James F. Wolfe was born on November 14th, 1925. His interest and experience in journalism and writing go back to his boyhood, and continued during his college years at Warrensburg, Missouri. Subsequently he worked for the Kansas City Star, from 1944 to 1965. From 1955 to 1975, Mr. Wolfe also operated various Jackson County newspapers. Following this period he became more involved with covering state political news in Jefferson City, first for two suburban St. Louis newspapers, and then the Joplin Globe. At the time of the interview Mr. Wolfe continued to report for the Joplin Globe as well as issue his long running political newsletter.I met Mr. Wolfe at his newspaper office in the state capitol building in Jefferson City. The room displayed many accoutrements reflecting Mr. Wolfes trade, including fourteen file drawers, dozens if not hundreds of back issues of Keeping Up, the usual telephone and fax machine, and a full set of Blue Books. Among the many wall decorations was a framed copy of Mr. Wolfes obituary column remembering Senator Richard M. Webster, a 1944 ballot depicting votes cast in a Republican district during the Dewey-Roosevelt race, honorary colonel and honorary naval captain awards, and a needlepoint banner with words attributed to Bob Griffin, reading, . . . no sleaze is beneath Jim Wolfe, which Mr. Wolfe explains in the following transcript. Mr. Wolfe related his memories with a great deal of humor, and the interview atmosphere was quite congenial and relaxed.
An Interview withJames F. Wolfeat his office inJefferson City, Missouri10 November 1997interviewed by Will SarvisOral History ProgramThe State Historical Society of Missouri 1997Collection C3929 Politics in Missouri a.c. 200, 201 NOTICE1) This material is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). It may not be cited without acknowledgment to The Oral History Program of the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, a Joint Collection of the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri.Citations should include: [name of interviewee], [name of the interviewer], [date and place of interview], [audio recording or transcript], and [where it can be found, for example, The Oral History Program of the State Historical Society of Missouri, Politics in Missouri Oral History Project].2) Reproductions of this transcript are available for reference use only and cannot be reproduced or published in any form (including digital formats) without written permission from the Western Historical Manuscript Collection.3) Use of information or quotations from any Politics in Missouri Oral History Project transcript indicates agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Missouri, the State Historical Society of Missouri, their officers, employees, and agents, and the interviewee from and against all claims and actions arising out of the use of this material.For further information, contact:Western Historical Manuscript Collection23 Ellis LibraryUniversity of MissouriColumbia, MO 65201-5149PREFACEJames F. Wolfe was born on November 14th, 1925. His interest and experience in journalism and writing go back to his boyhood, and continued during his college years at Warrensburg, Missouri. Subsequently he worked for the Kansas City Star, from 1944 to 1965. From 1955 to 1975, Mr. Wolfe also operated various Jackson County newspapers. Following this period he became more involved with covering state political news in Jefferson City, first for two suburban St. Louis newspapers, and then the Joplin Globe. At the time of the interview Mr. Wolfe continued to report for the Joplin Globe as well as issue his long running political newsletter.I met Mr. Wolfe at his newspaper office in the state capitol building in Jefferson City. The room displayed many accoutrements reflecting Mr. Wolfes trade, including fourteen file drawers, dozens if not hundreds of back issues of Keeping Up, the usual telephone and fax machine, and a full set of Blue Books. Among the many wall decorations was a framed copy of Mr. Wolfes obituary column remembering Senator Richard M. Webster, a 1944 ballot depicting votes cast in a Republican district during the Dewey-Roosevelt race, honorary colonel and honorary naval captain awards, and a needlepoint banner with words attributed to Bob Griffin, reading, . . . no sleaze is beneath Jim Wolfe, which Mr. Wolfe explains in the following transcript. Mr. Wolfe related his memories with a great deal of humor, and the interview atmosphere was quite congenial and relaxed.The interview was recorded on 3M AVX60 audio cassettes (normal bias), using a Marantz PMD-222 manual recorder (set on automatic recording level) and a Shure VP64 omnidirectional microphone attached to a floor stand. No interference compromises the good audio quality.The following transcript represents a faithful rendering of the entire oral history interview. Minor stylistic alterations--none of factual consequence--have been made as part of a general transcription policy. Any use of brackets [ ] indicates editorial insertions not found on the original audio recordings. Parentheses () are used to indicate laughter or a spoken aside evident from the speaker's intonation. Quotation marks [ ] indicate speech depicting dialogue, words highlighted for the usual special purposes (such as indicating irony). Double dashes [--] and ellipses [ . . . ] are also used as a stylistic method in an attempt to capture nuances of dialogue or speech patterns. Words are italicized when emphasized in speech. In an effort to avoid cluttering the transcript with brackets, details surrounding complete proper names are not always found in the transcript itself, though the index contains, when possible, their fullest spelling. And although substantial care has been taken to render this transcript as accurately as possible, any remaining errors are the responsibility of the editor, Will Sarvis. JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 1Will Sarvis (WS): Im in Jefferson City, Missouri, here in the Capitol Building with Mr. James F. Wolfe, who has done a lot more of this kind of interviewing that I have. But were going to talk about politics here today. I thought, just to get started, maybe we could go over your brief biography; just give us a biographical sketch, if you could.James Wolfe (JW): Of me?WS: Yes sir.JW: All right. I was born in Independence, November 14th, 1925. Both of my parents were eastern Jackson countians, but my father was a high school vocational agriculture teacher at Leeton, which is in Johnson County. Thats where I grew up. I got into journalism because when I was a Boy Scout I won a merit badge in printing. Leeton had the Leeton Times, which had a press run of 250. I could talk about the Leeton Times, but you want to talk politics. Anyway, George Washington Kenney was the publisher, and in that insensitive time he was generally regarded as the laziest white man in Missouri. I learned to set type out of the case and did chores there, and then when I went to college at Warrensburg (where I went two years) I was co-editor of the campus publication. At Warrensburg I had a great English teacher, Elijah Jacobs. Probably between my mother--from her I got some appreciation for the language; she had taught also--and Jacobs, I probably got the basis of whatever skills I have.After going to Warrensburg for about two years, where I learned mainly to drink beer, I went to the Kansas City Star; cub reporter, first day, September the 3rd, 1944. I could tell some Kansas City Star stories, too. In any case, after a year or so I got myself on the copy desk, which is not a usual ambition for young reporters. Im a good copy 2 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarviseditor. I dont believe that Im an extraordinarily good writer. Im a good enough copy editor that it bothers me to read most of the things I read now with grammatical errors, punctuation errors, small and large errors of fact. I think Ive found typographical errors in every book Ive [read], some of them egregious and some not.Anyway, I met Lois Lauer, who was from Kansas; graduate of the KU journalism school. She was ahead of her time, I suppose. She had bought a little one-horse weekly at Buckner; the Jackson County Democrat. It has a history that could well be gone into, because it was originally founded as a party organ by Otto P. Higgins, who was Pendergasts police director in Kansas City (among other things). But at that time it was not really a Buckner paper, and it wasnt a party paper anymore. It purported to cover several of the small communities in eastern Jackson County, from east of Independence to include Buckner, Levasy, Sibley, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove. And we were married in 1955.For about the next ten years, I stayed at the Star, but I did some work on the paper, which we moved to Blue Springs, as the community that was going to grow more.[tape meter, 50]We changed the name to the Jackson County Sentinel because we bought the publication rights for the old Independence Sentinel, which was the oldest newspaper in Jackson County. It went back to the Southern family, which also is connected with the Independence Examiner. And then in 65, we bought the Raytown News. I quit the Star. We ran both of those until, I believe, 1974. There was a recession. We sold out to Townsend Communications north of the river. I worked for Townsend a year or so. It JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 3was not a happy experience. I got Townsend to buy out my employment contract, and I infiltrated Jefferson City, at first just coming down here and spending a day or two a week.My first client was the two suburban chains in St. Louis, which were then locally owned by the Donnelly family and the Bick family. They sold out two or three years later. I was dropped. The new owners didnt even know who I was. But by then Id picked up the Joplin Globe, and Ive been the Globes correspondent ever since. Of course, I stopped commuting, so to speak. I guess I actually moved to Jeff City about 1980. Ive been the Globes correspondent ever since. For a while I did similar work for the St. Joseph News-Press, and I may do some little side lines. But essentially Im the Joplin Globes correspondent.WS: Has politics always interested you as a journalist, or did that come gradually?JW: I think it always interested me. My parents werent political, but my dad was a slight acquaintance of Harry Truman, for example. My mothers stepmother (who raised her) was a Chiles. They were an old Democratic family in Jackson County. My step-great-grandfather, who was a Confederate veteran, was county marshal. Other members of the family were in politics in Kansas City, Independence--that area. I was interested. Probably more on the personalities, then, than on issues. I cant even remember what the issues were back then.WS: When did you start to become acquainted with the personalities in state politics? Was that before you came to Jefferson City? 4 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will SarvisJW: Oh, to some extent. Of course I knew the state senators and state reps. When we had the Blue Springs and Raytown papers, I would do things like do interviews or have interviews done with candidates. I remember that late Bill Morris, who was lieutenant governor, who was something of a friend. I remember Ed Dowd coming into the office at Raytown for an interview. I knew the late Bill Sermon, who was mayor of Independence and a big player on the state political scene.[tape meter, 100]I was something of a friend of Harry Gallagher--not the Harry Gallagher who is here as a lobbyist now, and is a former state representative--but Harry Gallagher who was the last leader of the old rabbit faction in Jackson County; the rabbit faction being descendent from the Shannon faction. I think the formal name was the First Regular Democratic Club. And there were remnants of rabbit strength when we were in the weekly newspaper business. They were still around. Harry Gallagher was county clerk. Nathan Scarritt was (I believe) recorder of deeds. The Scarritt family, of course, was a very old family. I believe the original Scarritt was a Methodist missionary who came to Kansas City when there were still fur traders.I knew state representative Bill Royster, who could have been a story in himself. Bill Royster was a descendant of the Scarritts. He started out as something of a reformer against the machine, and then he fell into bad odor with the Star, and with what might be called the elitist establishment. He continued to live in the Scarritt mansion out northeast. He was a state rep. I think Bill Royster probably combined an aristocratic background JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 5with empathy with dead, center middle class to an unusual degree--which offended a lot of people.WS: Such as?JW: (laughs) It offended what might be called the establishment. Bill Royster, for example, objected to the school board. Now the school board was actually far better then than it is now, as was the school system. Back then there was a six-member board elected at large, and the Democratic and Republican parties would cross-endorse. So there was no real election. It was once said that five of the six members at one time could holler at each other from their homes. They were all in the Country Club district south of the plaza. Bill Royster felt that Northeast, with its working class constituency, was neglected. Northeast High School. And it was he who had at least a big hand in going to the subdistrict system that they have now. I believe it has turned out to work very poorly. But his intentions were good. He died young. He died of cancer. Mary Gant, who became a state senator, was a protg of Bill Royster. His organization was called the Democratic Good Government Association which, in northeast, previously, had been a rabbit bastion. Ben Nordberg, who was Gallaghers predecessor as county clerk, I believe lived out Northeast and certainly had strength out northeast.[tape meter, 150]So I knew political people.WS: How did Alex Presta fit into the Kansas City area politics?JW: (chuckles) Oh, I knew Alex. He had the old North Side Democratic club, which was the descendent of--who was it? Johnny [Lazia]. Back in the Pendergast days. Then there 6 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarviswas [Charles] Binaggio, who was killed on 15th Street, in a political club. I dont know. I never was much into this mafia myth myself. Im sure there was a mafia. Im sure there was something of that culture. I think it had pretty well waned then. It was a great thing for the do-gooders to campaign against.WS: Ive often heard how Senator Jasper Brancato was very much beholden to Mr. Presta, and sort of did what he was told to do in Jefferson City.JW: That may be. It wouldnt surprise me. But I dont know. I knew Brancato slightly. I could never see the evidence of wealth with Presta.I had a friend, Sam Doutt. I knew him; hes deceased now. Sam and I knew each other long before either of us had an idea that either of us would be in Jefferson City. Sam was from Independence. His father was a vocational-something teacher in the Kansas City district and had, I don t know; eight, ten children. And they had Doutts Lake on Noland Road, which no longer exists. It was sort of a little resort. Youd fish or swim. I dont know that I was ever there. But Sam was a high school coach. When I knew him he was at Fort Osage High School. And I think he taught some college classes too. Sam ran for county clerk.Now Prestas strength was in the extreme north part of Kansas City, south of the river; the old North Side. But he himself lived way out south; lets say 115th Street, in one of those fairly expensive, tasteless subdivisions. But Sam ran for county clerk in the primary. He lost. And somebody said, Well, you ought to talk to Alex Presta. So he called up Alex. Alex said, Yeah. This afternoon (or tomorrow afternoon) Ill be (and he gave an address; lets say) on Missouri Avenue. JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 7[tape meter, 200]And Sam remarked to somebody, Yeah, Im going to see Alex Presta tomorrow. And the person made some joke about, Well, watch out you dont end up in concrete. And Sam went to see Alex Presta, and what was he doing? He was mixing concrete for (laughing) a sidewalk, or something. But he was doing it himself. I mean, if Presta was making big bucks out of vice and corruption, it was not apparent. But I dont know. Im sure there was something to it.WS: I bet you remember the advent of that organization called Freedom, Incorporated, in Kansas City.JW: Yes. I wasnt close to it. It was an outgrowth of the awakening of black power, civil rights. I remember Harry Gallagher, when he was county clerk, expressing wonderment that the blacks were wanting not just jobs, but good jobs. (Laughs) It was a change.WS: Did you ever happen to be acquainted with Mr. Jordan, Leon Jordan?JW: Im sure I met him or saw him somewhere, but no, I did not know him.WS: Do you remember any leaders of the black caucus based in Kansas City, that were particularly effective, or stand out in your memory in any way?JW: After I came down here; Mrs. Jordan was here as a state representative here for a while. Senator Curls, whos here now. Im not well advised in the premises on black politics. My feeling about the black politicians pretty much is that there is a lot of . . . oh; I hate to use the word corruption, but it could be said--among them. But, what the heck? The Irish, Germans, the Italians all had their turn. Now its their turn! Its only fair! (Laughs) 8 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will SarvisWS: I wonder; ending up with the Joplin Globe, in a part of the state thats heavily Republican--does that affect the things that you write in any way? Do they care?JW: I get very little--you might say no--direction. However, I myself am a conservative. I dont call myself a Republican. But Im a conservative. Thats conservative territory. The readers, I believe, are interested in issues like abortion, gun control, taxes--that coincide with my interests, so I write about those things.WS: Ill bet you remember the remarkable campaign of 1964, when Governor Hearnes upset the so-called Establishment. Now you were probably in Kansas City at that time, werent you?JW: Blue Springs, yes. Lets see; thats the year he beat Hilary Bush in the primary. About everybody in Jackson County, the vast majority, were, of course, for Hilary. I knew Hilary; not well, but knew him. I had no big dislike for him. Id met Hearnes. I liked him. Our newspaper, which at that time was called the Jackson County Democrat, endorsed Hearnes. I dont know what effect that had in the county among our readers, but it gave Warren something that he could distribute elsewhere, that a newspaper in Jackson County named the Jackson County Democrat was supporting him. And, Ive always admired Warren Hearnes. I think that, retrospectively, he was a transition governor between the old style governors--like John Dalton, whom I knew also--and before that then politicians like Phil Donnelly, whom I admire from what I know of him. Back then they were either rural, courthouse Democrats or, maybe, machine Democrats. And Warren was sort of a transition between that and the Kit Bonds, John Ashcrofts. Kit JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 9came in as, well; a bit juvenile. I think he matured well. And I think his second term was far more successful than his first.But Hearnes understood people well. As I recall, when Medicare was invented, he even said it would go broke way back then about the time it was started. I still dont know why he was hounded by the feds. I dont know.WS: Ive heard some say they suspected political motivations.JW: Well, sure, its political--but what political?[tape meter, 300]WS: Do you remember the major contention he had with Senator Blackwell? Earl Blackwell?JW: I read about it and heard about it, but no, I wasnt here then.WS: Did you ever happen to be acquainted with Mr. Nacy? Richard Nacy?JW: No, sir.WS: Well, after you got here to Jefferson City and started observing things first hand, I wonder--if you could, possibly--list certain legislators that you thought were particularly effective?JW: At the forefront, and I hope we come back to him, of course was Richard Webster. I doubt there was ever anybody like him before, and there never will be again. Others in the Senate were William Baxter Waters, from Liberty; literally a gentleman and scholar. Bill Cason, from Clinton. Cliffie Jones, of course. Al Spradling, from Cape. Maurice Schechter, from St. Louis County. Incidentally, he was reputed to have some connection with whatever the Jewish mafia is. I know of no evidence, myself, at all. I thought he 10 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarviswas very erudite. He was Jewish. I believe he may still be living. If so, hes very old and frail. Have you talked to him?WS: Yes. And he is old and frail. His health has declined.JW: I think back on the House. Kenny Rothman, in the House, and later as lieutenant governor. I have a high respect for Kenny Rothman. When he was running for governor, I think Emory Melton told the story--and I think I saw the clipping--some newspaper in McDonald County in a news account said that Mr. Rothman was an outstanding Christian gentleman. (Laughs) And he was an outstanding gentleman.WS: I understand Robert Ellis Young was quite an orator.JW: Yes, he was the old time orator.[tape meter, 350]He started out every speech in the House: Mr. Speaker! Mr. Speaker! I rise to--whatever. Every speech like that. I think hed worked in radio. He had a good voice. And he was intelligent and was well informed, but he didnt have the depth of a Dick Webster or some of the other people I mentioned.[end of side 1, tape I; tape meter, 360]WS: It sounds like maybe you focused more on the Senate during your observation.JW: Probably did. Its easier to keep track of thirty-four people than 163. In the House a reporter has to go up to the press gallery. In the Senate, why, you can sit at a table on the floor. It was just easier. The Senate lends itself more (it did then; still does, I guess) to flights of oratory and whimsy than in the House. There was not nearly as much of that in the House. Partly because theres just more House members. Partly, maybe, there wasnt JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 11that much talent. Now and then in the House youd see a facetious amendment or real wit in debate, but not nearly as much as in the Senate.For example, our friend Bud Barnes, he had a tongue in cheek--it was well grounded--but a tongue in cheek complaint that the state flag had been altered. Im sure youve heard about that. The bears had moved and they had gained weight over the years. This story is not about that, though I think it might be noted that Jimmy Kirkpatrick took offense at Buds campaign (if you will call it that) because the secretary of state is, I believe, constitutionally the guardian of the great seal. While Bud didnt allege that this transformation had taken place during Jimmys guardianship, why, he sort of felt he was being impugned.Anyway. Somebody had a bill. I believe it was Pete Page from Lebanon. To put the word Missouri on the Missouri flag. He did this because there had been, I believe, an American Legion baseball tournament. Anyway, a youth baseball tournament at Lebanon. They had various state flags, and some of them had the name of the state on the flag. Many people were unable to recognize the Missouri flag. So he had this bill to put Missouri on the flag. Bud and some others regarded this as desecration, and opposed it. The bill said the letters should be sans serif letters. Bud had an amendment to make them serif letters. If were going to do this, lets do it fancy. Someone--I believe Van Donley--had an amendment to the amendment to make them deputy serifs. (Laughs) And then someone else--it might have been Marvin Proffer, but Im not sure--had a remark about seraphim and whatever it is, angelic characters in the Bible. Those were good light moments, but they occurred rarely in the House. 12 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will SarvisWS: And you saw this a lot more in the Senate?JW: A lot more in the Senate.WS: A moment ago you mentioned Senator Webster as particularly outstanding, and I wonder what kind of attributes he had that would lead you to say that.JW: Dick accomplished the almost impossible. He was a Republican who was the most powerful member of a Democratic Senate. Dicks explanation to me for that was that it really wasnt difficult. All you had to do was assess what other people wanted and how much they wanted it.[tape meter, 50]That was it. Now this didnt mean that everybody was going to get what they wanted, or that he would help them get what they wanted. But he understood what it was they really wanted. Not what they said they wanted. A rather simple example of that--and somewhere Ive even got, I believe, an article I wrote. Anyway.When he was in the House, there was a representative from St. Louis or St. Louis County named Tommy Walsh. His grandson Tim Green is in the House now. If I remember the story correctly, Walsh was interested in a bill to raise the salaries of deputy constables; like a dollar a day. Remember, this was a half century ago. They were getting, like, $6 and would get $7, or $7 and get $8. But whatever it was, it was a fair percentage increase--far more than state employees, others, were getting. In the nature of things, many of the rural members just opposed the precedent of awarding that kind of a salary increase, even though it was paid out of the city treasury or--at least not by JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 13them. Dick was the deciding vote for it. It was no skin off his nose. It didnt hurt his constituents in Jasper County.And he became a good friend of Walsh. Walsh would help him on other things. Im sure they continued to scratch each others backs. But this was the signal. I am a pragmatic man who will be pragmatic as long as it doesnt violate somebodys principle. By the same token, Dick would always vote with labor. Not always vote with labor, but he was friendly with labor. He would even vote for collective bargaining for public employees. But of course he knew the bills werent going to pass anyhow. (Laughs)He worked hard. Success doesnt come to many people, no matter how brilliant they are, unless they work. He knew the state constitution backwards and forwards. He knew the statutes well. He knew the Senate and House rules. And, as they said, if there wasnt a precedent, hed make up a precedent. He was good at, if need be, just dreaming up historical anecdotes to make his point. Nobody objected even if they suspected that this was happening, because he was so entertaining about it. (Laughs)WS: Can you think of any examples?JW: Not of a historical one. There was the famous hammers debate. The Senate was revising the criminal code. These things are cyclical. They have to occupy themselves doing something. One year, for some reason, theyll be revising the criminal code. And a year or two later the probate code. Then insurance will be the big issue. Whatever. That year it was the criminal code.[tape meter, 100] 14 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will SarvisAnd as I recall there was a black senator from St. Louis. A one-term senator. It may have been Ray Howard. Im not sure. But anyway, he had a very stringent amendment on guns. It was an amendment that would have failed if nobody had said a word. It wouldnt have gotten over one or two votes. But Webster had this cooked up with Senator Don Gralike, who is and was an official of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; a Democrat from St. Louis County. So, Webster offered an amendment that everywhere there was a reference to guns, firearms, handguns, whatever, to insert thereafter the words and hammers. Youre smiling as if youve heard this story before.WS: It sounds amusing. Please continue.JW: (laughs) Gralike arose to inquire of the senator from Jasper. He said, Senator, I can understand why youre doing this. I understand where youre coming from. But still, arent you going too far? Ill admit, Gralike says, that hammers arent really needed daily as they were in pioneer days when people were building rail fences and doing barn raisings. But arent you going too far? Wont you admit there are occasions, rare as they may be, when a citizen might have a need to use a hammer in his everyday life.Webster said, Senator, you do not comprehend the gravity of this situation. Last year in Chicago alone, 183 people were killed with hammers. Let me explain how this comes about typically. I mean no offense to any socio-economic groups. But mostly this happens in households of modest income.[brief telephone interruption; tape recorder momentarily off] JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 15Typically a young wife will say, George, we need shelves in the pantry. And George, instead of going out and hiring a qualified union carpenter with a licensed hammer, will go to some storefront establishment and buy an inferior, foreign-made hammer. Inferior because the head is improperly tempered and the handle poorly-grained.[tape meter, 150]And he takes this cheap, shoddy, imported hammer from Thailand or Hong Kong or worse, to their apartment. And he attempts to do the work himself, very likely, even on the Sabbath when he should be worshiping his maker. But instead he takes this inferior hammer and starts to put in the shelves. And because of the poor temper in the head and the poor grain in the handle, instead of striking a nail, he strikes a thumb or finger. And in a paroxysm of rage and pain he tosses aside this hammer! Killing or maiming a loved one! We call these the Sunday morning specials.(Laughter)WS: This was Senator Webster.JW: Senator Webster.WS: How were the other senators reacting to this story?JW: Oh, they were amused, of course.WS: How about the senator who offered the amendment?JW: I dont really recall.WS: Did you observe factions within the Republican Party?JW: I probably didnt observe them as much as they existed. But of course, one thing that tends to enhance solidarity is being in the minority. The minority party cant afford the 16 JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvisluxury of open factionalism that the majority party can. Incidentally, then I think there was less party discipline, consciousness of party, than there is now. The Senate still has a pretense, Were all one happy family. Were senators. Were brothers. Its probably even true now in the Senate more nearly than it is in the House. But I think there really was more camaraderie, collegiality, then. Frankly, you had probably a higher quality of senator. And Im not demeaning any of the incumbents. But when you had a William Baxter Waters, Dick Webster, Al Spradling, many of the others--certainly Emory Melton.A year or two ago Ed Quick was on the floor talking about something--and hes by no means the worst senator there is--but another member of the press nudged me; said, Just think, a few years ago we had Phil Snowden, and before that we had Bill Waters, from that district.WS: And his meaning was pretty much what you just said.JW: Yes. Real estate assessment was a major issue in those early days when I was here. Once Senator Waters made a speech about reassessment. He talked for, like, twenty, thirty minutes. Every senator was listening.[tape meter, 200]There was no whispering. There was no leaving, being at the back of the chamber. Everybody was listening. He explained the principles involved with the history with clarity and cogency. Then, at the end, he said, Of course, you realize were talking about imaginary numbers. (Laughs) JW = James Wolfe; WS = Will Sarvis 17But that brings me to a Webster-Melton story. And I witnessed this. There is frequently a bill for what is called a certificate of value, which is an affidavit by the buyer or seller or both of real estate about what the price is. There is such a statute, I believe, that affects one or both of the metropolitan areas. But it never got enacted statewide. Or, if its not a statute, it may be done by ordinance. Anyway, it was violently opposed by rural legislators, and by nobody more than senators Melton and Webster. Frank Bild, former Senator Bild, was the sponsor of the bill or a sponsor of the bill.[Mr. Wolfe looks through his papers in search of a column]I wrote a column about this which Im trying to dig up, but I guess Ill rely on my memory. The only difference will be, of course, itll vary from the column a bit in case any real historian digs into this. Ive got the year. I think it was in the