Oral History Interview with
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Opened June, 1983
November 9, 1982
by Niel Johnson
JOHNSON: I want to begin, Mr. Kayle, by asking you when and where you were born, and what your parents' names were.
KAYLE: I was born in Utica, New York on July 17, 1922. My mother was Emma Wineburgh Kowalsky, and my father was Harry S. Kowalsky.
JOHNSON: That is Polish?
KAYLE: No, that's a Jewish name; it's not Polish. My parents were Russian Jews.
JOHNSON: What schools did you attend?
KAYLE: I went to public schools in Utica, New York.
That led to my going to Hamilton College for my undergraduate degree, since the college was about 12 miles from Utica, and I had a scholarship there.
JOHNSON: So you graduated from high school in Utica?
KAYLE: In 1939; the Utica Free Academy. Then I started at Hamilton in the fall of 1939.
JOHNSON: But the Free Academy was the public...
KAYLE: Yes, it was the public high school in Utica.
JOHNSON: How big a city is Utica?
KAYLE: Well, Utica is about 90 to 100 thousand. It's probably one of the few cities today that's losing population all the while. It was a knitting mill city and lost a lot of the industry to the South.
JOHNSON: Could I ask you what your father's occupation was?
KAYLE: Yes, my father at his death was an insurance salesman. Prior to that he had been in a number
of businesses, including the scrap iron and steel business, where he was very successful, but he lost a great deal of his wealth before he died. He died at a young age; he was just 49 and I was about 14 years old. He died in 1937.
JOHNSON: You lived through a good part of the Depression, didn't you?
KAYLE: Yes. I was too young to remember the good years, but I would say that in the bulk of my time with my parents we weren't poor. However, money was not easily available, and I remember working on weekends and doing things of that nature to get my own allowance money, pretty early in the game.
JOHNSON: Did you commute from home to college?
KAYLE: In my first semester at Hamilton College I commuted. They made an exception for me because my father had died, and my mother was not well; she was ill. I really had to be home with my sister to take care of my mother. So the college
stretched their rules. It was a small liberal arts college -- there were about 450 students in the whole college -- and they stressed life on campus. But they made that exception for me for a half year. I lived on campus for the balance of 3 Ĺ years.
JOHNSON: So that allowed you to take more of a part in extracurricular activities?
KAYLE: Oh yes. It's a great school. Also, it was a wealthy school and if you wanted to get work you could find it. There's a direct correlation between Hamilton College, and my experience and what happened there, and my later career. I can almost trace a path directly to the job on the White House staff.
JOHNSON: Well, we want to be sure and get to that. How about your experience of the Depression? Did that have something to do with it?
KAYLE: Well, no. I would say that my experience
required me to be "on my own" from an early age. When I went to school it was up to me to get the most out of my education, and, indeed, to see that my education would be available. Then there was my subsequent time in service, and in law school on the G1 bill of rights. I think I had to work so hard to get my formal education that it gave me an attitude about life which made a great deal of sense in my ending up on Truman's staff.
Again some things happened on the way which are interesting about that point, and how things have changed from my day on Truman's staff and what's happening in Washington today. But my attitude about what was worthwhile in life was conditioned by my having had to "get where I got" on my own, so to speak.
JOHNSON: Was your father involved at all with local politics?
JOHNSON: What was his attitude towards President Roosevelt?
KAYLE: Well, you know, that's interesting. I hadn't thought much about that. I don't have any definite impressions, other than to know that we were a part of that class that felt the Depression very much and we had to be oriented towards a liberal philosophy. But politics was not discussed a great deal in my home. I wouldn't say that my family influenced me that much on politics. It's interesting; when the family had money, in the scrap iron and steel business, I would say because they had money, they were probably Republicans in their attitude --that is the moneyed part of the family. Even when my dad had money I imagine he probably felt that the Republican Party was where the moneyed people ought to be going.
JOHNSON: Hamilton College -- was that more or less Republican?
KAYLE: Oh yes, a bastion of conservatism, no question about it.
JOHNSON: So you didn't learn liberalism necessarily at Hamilton?
KAYLE: Not necessarily at Hamilton. However, it is a liberal school in terms of its faculty selection. I can think of a couple of professors who were helpful in giving me a broad approach to things; there was no provincial attitude imposed by the school. Michael Halperin was an international figure in economics and Michael gave me the feeling that there was a lot more in the world than what I knew in Utica. Tom LeDuc, my history professor, who's been out to the Library here and is at Oberlin now, also was helpful in giving me a much broader viewpoint. I knew from Hamilton that my eventual career would not be spent in Utica, or in the local scene. I aspired to do something more.
JOHNSON: What was your major at Hamilton?
KAYLE: Political science and economics. It was interesting. My first year I started out as a pre-dental student. Why? Because I had one uncle who was a professional man, a dentist, in Chicago. Actually he didn't encourage me to go into dentistry. I don't think he was happy with it, but he was "Uncle Doc" Sam. But after the difficulties I had with chemistry and biology in maintaining an A average, since I knew I had to do as well as I could, I didn't like it. I had to work too hard at it. But I loved debating. Public speaking was a great thing at Hamilton. I was on the debating team, et cetera, and I was at home in history and political science and economics. So I became pre-law. I never regretted that because that's where my talents lay.
JOHNSON: Did they have political clubs?
KAYLE: Not political clubs, but we did have mock
assemblies. I remember going to a number of other campuses. The United Nations was not in being then, you know, but there were the League of Nations concepts and training in terms of international cooperative efforts. I was very active in that. Politics -- not really. We didn't have political clubs because I was in a haven of conservatism. And as a scholarship student and as one working his way through, in my day you were just damn glad to be there. You weren't about to rock any boats.
JOHNSON: But there was an international mindfulness, at least among the faculty...
JOHNSON: ...and some of the students, especially in the political science and history majors, suppose.
KAYLE: Absolutely. I mean good free thinking, but not a great deal of good liberal thinking.
JOHNSON: At least they were anti-isolationists?
KAYLE: Oh, yes, definitely. That's true. I have warm feelings about Hamilton. I just finished a four-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees, which to me was a most gratifying experience. And I am still very close to the college. I think of the fact that I could start as a commuter, on a scholarship, and being Jewish -- which was not easy from a social standpoint -- and finally to be on the Board. Incidentally, on that whole social problem of being Jewish, it was like having a "yellow ticket." You weren't invited into the fraternities which were key elements in campus life. I became the president of a number of student organizations, and I was Phi Beta Kappa my junior year, so I had a record they would like to have associated with a member of the fraternities. But at that point I would not have considered joining a fraternity, were I to be asked. The point that I want to make is that after the
war, that whole framework changed, and the anti-Semitism, which still does exist, I suppose, to some extent is no longer a major factor. A couple of the Jewish kids are presidents of their fraternities, et cetera. Had that situation not changed, I would not have devoted my time or efforts to the College in later years, as I have.
JOHNSON: Is this a denominationally affiliated...
KAYLE: Well, we had compulsory chapel. It was Episcopalian services, I believe, which I had to attend and I enjoyed. I think it's one of the reasons I became reformed in my Judaism. The conducting of services primarily in English made more sense to me.
JOHNSON: Social attitudes liberalized as a result of World War II?
KAYLE: I think so, because the student body changed. It was not the alumni body; they wouldn't have done it. They loved what they had, but that is
entirely a different story.
JOHNSON: What year did you graduate?
KAYLE: I graduated in 1943, in January. The war of course was on and we had an accelerated program, so we attended school all summer of '42 and we got our degrees in January of '43. That's where my tie with Hamilton led to Washington. There was a former Hamilton faculty member, Senator Frederick Davenport, a very wealthy man. I think he married into wealth -- the Andruss family, I believe. They used to call him the "strap hanger millionaire;" he had a lot of money and he used to use the subway in New York. Anyway, Senator Davenport started a program called the National Institute of Public Affairs. I think Elmer Staats may have been involved in that, too. It was backed, I think, by the Rockefeller Foundation. They would bring seniors from 50 different colleges in the country to Washington for an internship program, to give them a taste
of Washington, with the hope of getting young men and women to go into public service. Dr. Davenport had been looking for a Hamilton man that could fit the ticket, and apparently I did. It presented me with an early dilemma, because tied to it was a deferment, with the idea that we would end up in administrative work in the Army. I believe it was the Adjutant Generals office that they were talking about. As a result of taking that assignment in Washington in January of '43, I passed up cryptography in the Signal Corps and the Navy Japanese course out in Boulder, where you would have had an ensignship once you learned the language. I opted to go to Washington, and there's no question that that decision led eventually to my being in the Army, in the Infantry, in combat overseas. So I had a military experience which was quite different from most of my peers. I had moments of anguish about that I must admit, in terms of being able to meet the challenge that infantry life entailed.
JOHNSON: Well, it sounds like it could be, of course, rather dangerous.
KAYLE: Yes, it was. I'm glad to be sitting here, and in retrospect it probably was damn good for me, but at the time...
JOHNSON: Was it a kind of internship, and did you get graduate credit?
KAYLE: No credit was attached to it, but it was an opportunity to see how the Government functioned, and what entry-level qualifications were required. We lived at the Brookings Institution and there was a wonderful opportunity to meet my fellow men and women who were interested in, and who were oriented towards, the things I thought were worthwhile.
JOHNSON: How many were there?
KAYLE: Well, there were about fifty or sixty as I recall. There may have been a few married and
they, of course, had to got their own apartment facilities. I remember being invited to the White House to meet with Eleanor Roosevelt. I remember a lecture that was given us by Eugene Meyer, then the Washington Post owner, and similar figures like that. It helped make you realize that these were human beings; they put on their pants like everybody else, et cetera. That deglamorization was very helpful. We did take some courses, some formal study sessions at George Washington that we were expected to attend, and we did. But then we were assigned to particular agencies, and I was assigned to the CAA [Civil Aeronautics Administration], and I found that terribly boring. I was able to get switched over to the War Labor Board, which I was very interested in. That really hit a spot with me. As a result I was given a four month employment stint -- maybe it was longer -- at the Wax Labor Board in Washington before I went into service. I was the Executive Secretary of the Appeals
Committee, and that meant working with judges and professors on the special panels that were hearing appeals from regional decisions.
I recall Governor Knaus of Colorado, William Lee Knaus, a wonderful guy who was one of the men I worked with. There was E. Wight Bakke of Yale, and A. Cecil Snyder, then a Justice on the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. As the Appeals Secretary I really functioned like a law clerk. I had to synthesize the various decisions. That convinced me that I liked the labor field, but it also convinced me that I wanted to go back to law school someday to get my law degree. Being just on the undergraduate level was not adequate in terms of the kind of preparation I wanted. It also brought me in contact with the Board itself -- with Wayne Morse who was one of the public members, William H. Davis, and Frank Graham, the wonderful little man from North Carolina University, a great arbitrator. There was George Meany -- I saw him in action. On the public side -- maybe it's indicative of my
feelings but I can't remember too many of the public members. The experience with the tripartite process was invaluable, and very, very helpful before I went in service.
JOHNSON: Was that a choice that you made, to get into the labor field? Did you have other options?
KAYLE: It was my choice. I was looking for another agency, which we could do because when we were assigned as interns, we werenít paid. Either we were pains in the neck or helpful -- but I think we were helpful. I know I was helpful. with the War Labor Board, because they asked me to stay on.
JOHNSON: Do you recall what made you interested in labor?
KAYLE: Well, yes. I felt that through the labor movement, at that time, you might become
effective in working toward a better society. It was very helpful to me in that I believed that I perhaps could be part of the labor movement. However, that experience at the War Labor Board, my subsequent experience on the White House staff, as well as my work in the Executive Office where I was involved in labor problems, convinced me that my disposition and my feelings were such that I couldn't become the partisan advocate of labor that one had to be if he was to be in the labor movement per se. If there was a spot for me at all in labor, it was in the arbitration area, in the field of trying to get these two giants to live with each other. In my War Labor Board experience, there was another man, a William Simkin, a tower of strength in the labor arbitration area, and I enjoyed working with him. One day I thought maybe it would be great to work into that kind of area. So it was very helpful to let me know early where I didn't belong and where I did belong in terms of labor.
JOHNSON: Was that your first acquaintance with unions?
KAYLE: This was my first acquaintance with unions since I would work with labor members on our panels, our tripartite panels. I got to know labor people, and I liked them. If you didn't have their confidence you couldn't do an effective job even as an Appeals Secretary. They had to feel you would give them an honest shake at least.
JOHNSON: If there was a dispute that they were arbitrating, or working on, would that mean that sometimes the top people in labor would be brought in? They would testify, or they would advocate positions of labor?
KAYLE: Well, we had regional War Labor Boards throughout the country ruling on wage settlements, There was an appellate procedure to bring decisions up to the National Board if either party felt aggrieved. Our mandate as the Appeals Committee was to process these appeals and make recommendations to the major
board itself. So there were times when if we didn't get the issues resolved in our committee, we'd end up having the matters heard at the national level. In the final analysis, the effectiveness of our procedures depended upon the public member. As I recall we had just a public member, a labor member, and an industry member on our particular panels. Many cases were resolved before they had to go to the National Board, but on some we weren't able to do our job that well.
JOHNSON: Did you sit in on those hearings in Washington at the national level?
KAYLE: Yes, at the national level, when our particular matters were before the Board. I never advocated a position; that wasn't my function. I mean, I was not that significant.
JOHNSON: But you were secretary to this appeals...
KAYLE: To the Appeals Committee, and I really was
kind of a law clerk to the particular public member.
JOHNSON: So you did research.
KAYLE: Yes, did research on those particular matters, and wrote up the cases for them. I was complimented enough by Judge Knaus, who was Governor of Colorado then, and Judge Snyder, so that it encouraged me to want to go into law.
JOHNSON: Do you remember any particular episode, or case that stands out in all those hearings?
KAYLE: No. That is interesting. I really can't. We had some real crises of course, but I remember how impressed I was with William H. Davis in terms of his stature. And Wayne Morse -- I also recall...
JOHNSON: Wayne Morse from Oregon?
KAYLE: Yes, Senator Morse from Oregon, who I think was a good friend of the Trumans. I remember the egotism of the man though. The order was
that anything that had his name on it, printed anywhere, went into a special file. I mean his ego was unbelievable. Then, Frank Graham -- he was a lovely man and he always was trying to find a solution. He had great respect for labor. He went on to have problems later on as a liberal, I gather, in his home state.
JOHNSON: Well, let's say that labor and management were on opposite sides on some of those disputes. Do you recall what the final decisions tended to be? Did they tend to favor labor's position, or management's?
KAYLE: No, really it's hard for me to say. Being somewhat on the liberal side my predilection would be to say labor would win more, but I can't say that. I think the War Labor Board worked, and if there had been too much of a slant on either side, it would not have worked.
JOHNSON: They were acceptable decisions.
KAYLE: That's right. Otherwise labor would not have gone along, and on the other hand there was a point where industry would not have gone along.
JOHNSON: John L. Lewis took mine workers out, didn't he in '43?
KAYLE: Yes, and that ought to have been under the War Labor Board jurisdiction, but I just had nothing to do with that whole fracas at that time.
JOHNSON: Did you ever meet John L. Lewis?
KAYLE: No. I do remember a hearing we had; maybe I went for the entertainment of seeing James Petrillo, if you remember, from the AFM (American Federation of Musicians).
KAYLE: He was a very colorful character in the American Federation of Musicians and made a lot of history, but I never ran into John L. Lewis.
JOHNSON: I don't think we have much information on this Institute of Public Affairs, so Iím glad to have it.
KAYLE: Yes, and I think really that that's the predecessor of all of the internship programs that came later under the White House internship program and which many colleges run. I don't think there was anything like it, and this was 1943. It had been on since maybe '36 or Ď37. Elmer Staats would know a lot about it, it seems to me, because it's the public administration kind of thing that Elmer would have been involved with. A man by the name of Carl Stromsen was Davenport's son-in-law, a professor of political science; he ran it. And there's a professor out in California, Refiner comes to mind, who may still be alive, who was instrumental in the success of the program. I think he's in the political science field at one of the universities around Los Angeles. I'm sure Louis Brownlow
was involved; and Murray Seasongood. I mean we had these "greats" who would come talk to us, and it laid the groundwork for our career decisions. I know there were studies made subsequently to see how many of these boys and girls actually went into the Government. I think a fair number did.
I remember working in the Budget Bureau with Harry McKittrick. Harry was in the budget side of the Bureau, and eventually, I think in the Nixon administration, he became an Assistant Secretary of Interior after he had retired from the Budget Bureau. Wolf Rommel was an NIPA graduate. I think you will find in the background of some of these other people, the NIPA experience, so it did pay off, at least in that sense.
JOHNSON: How long did that program continue?
KAYLE: My guess is that it ended maybe in the late forties. I think it ran out of funding, and it was taken over by the Civil Service Commission.
So it's interesting that you had not run into this before, because to me it was the key agent to get this whole process started. It made a lot of sense. It surely affected my life.
JOHNSON: It started you on your career.
KAYLE: Absolutely, no question about it. I mean from that point on I knew one thing: I wanted to come back to Washington.
JOHNSON: As a lawyer.
KAYLE: As a lawyer, and interestingly enough, not necessarily, in the Government as such. I wanted to wait and see what it all meant.
JOHNSON: But you did want to specialize in labor?
KAYLE: And I also wanted to specialize in labor, yes.
JOHNSON: Was Goldberg...
KAYLE: I got involved with Arthur Goldberg later on. He was counsel to the steel worker's union. I
don't recall having worked with him on War Labor Board matters. I did work with lawyers from the union side, but his name doesn't ring a bell.
JOHNSON: What were your conclusions about the role of the War Labor Board?
KAYLE: I came away convinced that the tripartite approach made all the sense in the world. It was a device to give each side a chance to be heard. There was a conciliatory process, you know, a human relations approach. I would like to see it used more. Of course, we did later on. In the Korean war, the tripartite approach came back. But I thought it made a great deal of sense.
JOHNSON: It entailed Government involvement directly in labor-management relations?
KAYLE: It had to. Right, but rather than leave the decision to the cold, heavy hand of a court, we had this process. Some of these things were
appealable to the courts eventually. It made a lot of sense.
JOHNSON: The National Labor Relations Board was maybe a precedent already set?
KAYLE: Yes. It was established under the original Wagner Act, so you had that precedent of Government involvement, right.
JOHNSON: Then you got drafted into the Army?
KAYLE: I was drafted into the Army and I was sent overseas. Again, it's interesting. The Army had an ASTP program, Army Specialized Training Program. I don't know whether when I was drafted I had signed up for it ahead of time, but it was another attempt of the Army to kind of keep "the brains" together and use them in a specialized way. That program was dissolved, because they needed bodies for fighting the war. I was sent to Fort Benning for my infantry training, and that's when we were part of ASTP. Then they
dissolved ASTP, and I was assigned to a unit, the 63rd Infantry Division in Mississippi, Camp Van Dorn. I would say that we went overseas in November of '44, about a year after I was drafted. Again, it's an interesting observation. I was probably the only college-trained man in Company H of the 253rd Infantry Division. The master sergeant got to know me and he asked me to read and interpret the T & E papers that came down, information and education. Why are we fighting? You know, anything to make my mind work a little bit; I enjoyed doing that. I got to know the master sergeant well.
Now, this has a bearing because when we landed in Marsailles, France, it was in safe hands since the landing in June at Normandy was all history. So we didn't have any problems in landing there and grouping. But that was the time of the Battle of the Bulge and Bastogne, and the order came down -- and I was a private
first class -- to have all privates and privates first class shipped up as replacements in that Bulge, because they needed bodies. My master sergeant, Joseph Falkenstein, did not put me on that list, and I'm convinced that if he had, whether I would be sitting here now is very questionable really.
Many years later, a couple of years ago as a matter of fact, Falkie who had kept in touch with me, came to see me in my home. I said, "Falkie, I've always told people I'm alive because of what you did." I said, "Do you remember?"
And he said, "Of course I remember.''
I said, "Well, how could you do this?"
He said, "When you're a master sergeant in combat in infantry, you can do anything." And that was true. I mean, he ran the company, I stayed with the unit. We lost quite a few people. I was fortunate in heavy weapons not
to have been injured at all, and we survived it.
JOHNSON: You went through Southern France...
KAYLE: Went through Southern France, through Saarbrucken...
KAYLE: Yes, Strasbourg. Our division "took" Heidelberg, and that was one of the cities that they had. agreed ahead of time not to destroy. It was a beautiful spot. I was with the 63rd Division, but then for occupational purposes I was assigned to the 36th Division. We were in Ulm and not too far from Stuutgart. Then the Army looked through the records; they found my background, and I was assigned to the Provost Marshals office where we ran civilian detainee camps. I became a "buck sergeant" working for a captain, who spent most of his time living with a German girl half the week and a French girl the other half. So I ran the operation much of the time.
JOHNSON: What year was that?
KAYLE: I got out in April of 1946, and I would say that I was in that job from December of '45, because there was a two-month period, before I was assigned to Heidelberg, when I went to Shrivenham American University in Swindon, England about 60 miles north of London. GIs who were assigned to occupation duty could go if they were qualified.
JOHNSON: Again, what college?
KAYLE: Well, it was called Shrivenham American University. It was what once was an Army barracks in England. Of course, I had my degree at Hamilton, so when I went there I went to the registrar and said, "I don't care about the substantive field at all. I'm not worrying about the credit here; tell me the name of the two best professors you have. I don't care whatever field it is." One was J. Frank Dobie, from Texas, and I took his course in American history, The other was a fellow named Hoenig in economics
from Cincinnati University, not of the same stature as Dobie, but a good mind, and I enjoyed the work that I did with him. But J. Frank Dobie was a revelation. Wonderful human being. I became his good friend and we met afterwards in Europe when he was coming through. At that time he was the American history professor at Cambridge and he wrote a book called A Texan in England. You know, he went on to have a fight with the regents at Texas. He had this wonderful expression -- he wouldn't get his doctorate; he said, "A dissertation is the transfer of bones from one graveyard to another."
JOHNSON: I've heard that before.
KAYLE: Right. He was an inspiration of a man, I remember one class we had where he read John Adams' letters to his son as a youngster; I'll tell you he had tears in his eyes. And this man was so disappointed when he found out I was going to law school. He felt that I was a
lost cause. Then later on when I wrote about the White House assignment he was thrilled that I had gone into public service. The interesting thing is that when Lyndon Johnson became President there was an article in Life magazine, a story about his early visitors, and J. Frank Dobie was shown as one of the early friends, very early visitors, in a photograph with his white mane of hair. I wrote him, and he wrote me back a note and said, "If you ever want to go back into Government, I have a few friends up there now." He died within months afterwards, though. A wonderful guy.
JOHNSON: When was it that you attended Shrivenham?
KAYLE: That would be, I would say, October and November of '45.
JOHNSON: Okay, we'll back up a little bit now to April 12, 1945, the day that President
KAYLE: Yes. I think the Rhine had already been crossed and I believe our troops were going over another Army bridge. That hit us like a bolt; I mean I remember that vividly.
JOHNSON: What division were you with?
KAYLE: This was the 63rd Infantry Division, 253rd Infantry Regiment, Company H, Heavy Weapons. I was in the mortar platoon; I couldn't get any more definite. My responsibility with the mortars was to operate a radio, We'd be about 1,000 yards behind the line, and get our firing instructions from our observers who were up in front. We had the 80mm mortars, with the plate and the tube in our jeeps, plus radios. I remember Roosevelt's death happened at a time when we had just been through a terrible experience. Our captain read a map wrong and we took a right instead of a left on a farm road and we ended up in crossfire. There were 15 jeeps, and we were in a crossfire with the
Germans. I remember I saw a figure standing out in the field, and you know Germans didn't farm their land. I said, "My God, there's a farmer." Farmer! It was a German soldier; he was shocked. We hit the dirt obviously. I remember this -- you know you were trained that you never should stay alongside of a road in a ditch because if anybody is coming down to strafe, that's where they fire. But I was in that ditch because I wanted to get below the line of fire. And all of a sudden they said, "There are tanks coming." Someone yelled, "Tanks!" and someone else said, "They're Krauts." Well, I could just feel those bullets down my back. But they were our tanks, not Krauts, and we jumped on those tanks, jumped on them in the face of this crossfire, and the tanks took us out. I remember looking in the peephole and I saw a Japanese face; they were the Nisei troops who had come out and did a fabulous job in the war.
But this had happened about two or three days before April 12th, and we were kind of still recovering, because we had lost a few men there. I mean these things happen in war. The captain was hit in the knee, and my lieutenant was shot in the neck. It was a devastating thing and when we heard about Roosevelt's death our morale was affected. But on the other hand, we were moving forward. I mean we were winning the war. Our problem was that we were bypassing little pockets of the Hitler Jugend, kids and old people, or drunken, doped-up soldiers, who were no longer effective. Yet if they could kill a few of us before they went, they were happy to do it. But we were moving so quickly we had very little opposition once that big push came through. We had a lot of opposition in November, but now we are talking about April.
JOHNSON: President Truman gave an address to the Armed Forces just two or three days after he
was sworn in. Do you remember when you first heard the words of President Truman?
KAYLE: No, I don't. I don't remember that. I will tell you this. You know in combat you sleep on floors in farmhouses; if you're lucky you sleep three or four hours at the most because you're pulling guard duty. Many times you sleep in snow in your snow bags. I mean you live like animals. I guess that's how wars are won. You don't want to die; all you can think about is surviving, and doing what you have to do. When the war ended in Europe we were assigned to homes; we started to live like human beings. We had a fairly decent mess arrangement; otherwise you were eating out of your mess kit and K-rations. However, after "V.E. Day," our General Louis Hibbs -- we called him "Mess Kit Louis' -- had us out in the field living in tents and eating out of mess kits for one reason. We were going to Japan and he couldn't wait. So you can imagine
how we felt after V-E Day, If you survive with the infantry, my God, the Lord has been good to you, and we had to anticipate transfer to another combat zone. So all I'm telling you is that when that bomb was dropped, "God Bless Harry Truman." That's what all of us were saying, because war is the ultimate sacrifice.
So the initial impact of Harry Truman on life was the dropping of that bomb, because I was absolutely destined to go. I only had six months of combat. I was destined to go to Japan and be a part of that, and your odds for survival were so small in combat infantry.
JOHNSON: Where were you stationed when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped?
KAYLE: The 6th of August. Well, we were still around -- that's very vague to me.
JOHNSON: But you were waiting orders?
KAYLE: We were waiting orders for the unit to be
transferred over. Wherever we were, we were in the field, living in tents in a combat organization. I mean, with the idea of not getting soft. It was around the Stuttgart-Ulm area.
JOHNSON: Did you ever get to Berlin?
KAYLE: I never got to Berlin. I did get down to Darmstadt. I was thinking of an excursion, you know, a sightseeing thing: Darmstadt and Stuttgart, and we saw the devastation. We got to Frankfurt. I did take a two week GI tour into Switzerland, which was nice. When I became attached to the Provost Marshal's office, we were assigned to the 7th Army Headquarters in Heidelberg, and then life became pretty decent and regular.
JOHNSON: Just when was that?
KAYLE: I would say from December of Ď45 through April, I was in that assignment. And being part of the 7th Army Headquarters, I was now part of "the
brass." The minute I was eligible point wise to come home, I came home.
JOHNSON: So you were part of the occupation army while you were there?
KAYLE: Yes, I was. We ran a civilian detainee camp. In one camp we had as a prisoner Ilse Koch, that infamous gal who made lampshades out of human skin. She was impregnated by a DP guard in one of our camps; I remember that. But it was an interesting administrative assignment. We had to confine that group, and we held witnesses, who later were tried at Nuremberg. These were all people that we had to put under lock and key, because of something in their background that required them to be held.
JOHNSON: Any other comment on your Army experience?
KAYLE: It's an interesting thing. I was a product of the educational system, and I never was a Cub Scout much less an outdoor kind of guy. So my
assignment, you know, through fate and the various incidents, ending with the combat infantry in Europe, led me to understand that what's needed in order to win a war are people sufficiently disciplined to be able to do what has to be done in times of combat. If you don't have the mental discipline to do these things, then you don't get things done. What I'm saying is that this idea of having all the brains behind the lines in safe jobs, so to speak -- well, what you need are disciplined men, and what I did in the war, now that I'm able to talk about it, was so much more important than what I could have done "using my superior intellectual talents" such as they were. I've learned that lesson, and I think that now that I can talk about it, because I came through all right, it was probably the best thing for me. And if we're going to win wars, that's how they are won.
JOHNSON: Well, you didn't exactly use your college
experience but you felt, of course, this was a very important role in winning the war.
KAYLE: Yes, but it was the discipline of doing what had to be done. The tough sergeants that I had in the United States, who were the drill men and the guys that we thought were going to be "gung-ho," when we got overseas, a couple of them went "Section 8." They could not take the strain of what it is to be in a war when you know you can be killed the next second. It's not courage. It's just a matter of accepting what fate has to offer. If this is the way I've got to go, I'm going to go the right way. You're not a hero. You do what you have to do though.
JOHNSON: It's that sense of teamwork, or esprit de corps?
KAYLE: Absolutely, definitely. Oh boy, and how. I had a gap education wise, with my fellow
infantrymen in Company H, but we loved each other in the right sense, and if one guy would let the other guy down, he knew it. There was a very interesting chemistry, which died when the war ended. Our interests weren't the same. I went to a reunion of my old company, my old division a couple of years ago and I was lost. I said, "How could I even come back?"
JOHNSON: I guess what we've established is that you were not involved in any of the programs for the occupation.
KAYLE: Not really, in terms of governing the German people.
JOHNSON: Do you speak any German?
KAYLE: I didn't speak German but my pigeon Yiddish helped a little bit. It also let the Germans know fast they were talking to a Jew.
JOHNSON: It must have been a real learning experience
KAYLE: Yes, I think so,
JOHNSON: Then you got your discharge...
KAYLE: In April of 1946.
I had always intended to go to law school and I applied while I was an enlisted man overseas in service and I was accepted at Harvard Law School and went there in June of 1946.
JOHNSON: How did you decide to go to Harvard?
KAYLE: Well, I knew I wanted to go to law school, and you know the reputation of being the best is enjoyed by Harvard and Yale. I wrote to both. Harvard had a very enlightened program for war veterans, as did Yale. They both asked me to send my transcript from Hamilton. Warren Seavey, who was then involved in admissions at the Harvard Law School, wrote me a letter saying, "Come whenever you're ready." And Wesley Sturgis, who
was the Dean of Admissions at Yale, said, "We'd love to have you, but we have a small class and there must be a personal interview first. We'd love to see you, but we can't say for sure until you come back." I remember as a GI overseas I said, "Boy, no question in my mind; I'm going to Harvard."
JOHNSON: You have two or three years of law school at Harvard. Did you do any service with Government, or get involved with Government in that period?
KAYLE: Not really, but what they did at Harvard, which was great, was to adopt the accelerated program. You went summers, as well, so that our class started in June of '46 and we graduated in September of '48. We did it in two years and a quarter, which was a way of catching up for the time we had spent in service. A good number of my classmates were married. I was married at the time. I had been married in 1943. About six
months after I graduated from Hamilton, and when I had finished my internship at NIPA and was going into the interim employment, I was married. Dottie came down and joined me in Washington and so we had a few months together before I went in service. So, of course, when I came back we were reunited after about nineteen months separation.
JOHNSON: What was her name again?
KAYLE: Dorothy Slater. She was also from Utica, New York, and I had known her since we were freshmen in high school.
JOHNSON: And your marriage date?
KAYLE: We got married June 13, 1943. It will be forty years, the good Lord willing, next year.
JOHNSON: Well, I might as well ask you right now, any children?
KAYLE: Oh yes, two daughters. One, Jennifer, who has three children. Her husband is an executive
with General Foods and she lives in Trumball, Connecticut. She is 33. The other daughter, Hilary, is 29 and single. She lives in New York City, and is on the staff of the "Today Show." She has a very interesting job in communications.
JOHNSON: As soon as you graduated from Harvard did you enter Government service?
KAYLE: Well, what happened there, I wanted to go back to Washington, but I wasn't terribly happy with Truman, actually, in terms of some of the Supreme Court appointments he had made. Remember he hadn't run on his own yet in '48; I graduated in September, and the election came a few months later. I was interviewed by some people on campus, a New York law firm, which I didn't want. Then I was given a lead to Judge Stephens on the Court of Appeals in Washington, and he verbally committed to me to be his motions clerk. I was to come to work for him in September of '48. I arrived with
my pregnant wife, and an apartment that I couldn't afford, only to be advised by the Judge in a telephone conversation that he was getting pressure from Georgetown Law School since he was hiring too many Harvard Law School men. He was a Harvard man himself, and he was very apologetic, but he didn't give me the job. He didn't have the job. That came as quite a blow. But it's interesting how that web of connections back to my own schools was still working.
I can't recall now exactly, but through some connection I got an interim employment with an organization called the Public Affairs Institute, which was a union-backed private organization. It was backed primarily by the railway unions. Dewey Anderson was the head of it, and he was one of the men who was involved in that TNEC study back in the early 1930s with Senator O'Mahoney. Dewey Anderson -- his name, I am sure -- must come up in some of the work you've seen here. He was the executive director of the
institute, and I was hired to do a study of the Taft-Hartley Act -- which is interesting. I guess I should point out that at Harvard Law School I continued my interest in labor. That was a course that I did very well with -- in terms of an A grade, of which there were a few. I was in the top 20 percent of my class at Harvard Law School, but that's not spectacular. I was not on any of the honorary organizations, Law Review, et cetera. But in that class I got an A with Archibald Cox. I enjoyed the labor aspects; I enjoyed all of my courses that dealt with national issues -- Federal jurisdiction, et cetera. So, having had that background, I was given this job with the Public Affairs Institute and I wrote the study on the workings of the Taft-Hartley Act up to that point in 1948. It was, of course, a very negative report based on the changes the Republicans had made, had caused to be made, and on the working of the Act itself.
That report, which, of course, was edited by other members of the staff, became the minority report of the Senate Labor Committee in 1948 on the Taft-Hartley Act. I mean that's what happened in those days.
JOHNSON: Does this have anything to do with the National Institute of Public Affairs?
KAYLE: None at all, none at all, completely separate. I remember one of my fellow workers at that time at the Public Affairs Institute was Bruce Catton, the authority on Civil War history. Bruce and I shared an office. What he was doing, in terms of that labor-backed organization, I don't recall, but I got to know Bruce Catton that way.
In any event, I let a few people know -- men from Hamilton, in particular, who were very nice to the alumni, the Harvard Law School men -- that I was looking for employment. Out of the blue I got a call from Elmer Staats, and he said that he had heard about me from someone connected, I
thought, with the National Institute of Public Affairs at one time, or maybe one of my resumes got to him. He asked if I would be interested in coming to work for the Budget Bureau. I never even thought about the Budget Bureau but, of course, I was looking for a job so I went up to be interviewed by Roger Jones. This would have been in January or February of '49. In this way I first heard about the Legislative Reference Division which at that time was coming into its own, and I learned about its functions. It sounded like a very challenging spot, especially to afford one an overall view of the Government, since the division was a coordinating agency between the White House, the Congress, and the agencies as well as between the Cabinet departments, on legislation. This program involved the relationship between the Hill and the Executive Branch with respect to enactment, enrollments, legislative veto messages, messages of approval, and the coordination of agency positions
on special projects. The whole thing sounded very intriguing, and a person with a legal background would be well-equipped to do the job.
JOHNSON: Was he acquainted with the report that you had done on the Taft-Hartley Act?
KAYLE: I don't think so. I really don't, but he knew what I had done before, what my general area of interests was.
JOHNSON: But your position on the Taft-Hartley Act did correspond pretty closely to the President's?
KAYLE: Oh yes. As I recall, we were tying to point out in our study the inadequacies of the national emergency provisions. We were trying to prove the Act's shortcomings, but not necessarily ending up saying that all aspects of the Taft-Hartley Act should be wiped out. That was the approach that the President was involved in, in trying to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, as the labor movement was advocating. In any event,
that training I had earlier was helping in being part of an effort with Dave Stowe, after I joined the presidents staff, to get the President off that hook of repealing the Act. There was no reason to be against the whole Act; there were just parts of the Act that should be changed.
JOHNSON: What were the major shortcomings of the Act?
KAYLE: I am trying to think whether I concentrated on the emergency provisions, as such, in that time. It stands to reason that a union-backed document would not have been happy with the Act, not that I was being paid to do a hack job. I had no problem in showing the Act's shortcomings, which again I am hard put to recall in detail. Did I have that in my resume about the Public Affairs Institute?
JOHNSON: Yes, in which you mention that you worked solely on legal aspects of the Taft-Hartley Act,
and the experience since its enactment.
KAYLE: It was a pejorative report; that's all I can say without being more specific.
JOHNSON: Now this 80-day cooling off period, for instance.
KAYLE: Well, again, I can't be more specific at this stage.
JOHNSON: Do you know where that report might be located?
KAYLE: Oh, dear. It would have been the Senate Labor Committee -- we're talking about 1948.
JOHNSON: This was a Senate committee.
KAYLE: A Senate committee. The Democrats won a majority in the Congress in 1948, and barely kept it in 1950. It would be the minority report in 1948, prior to the November election, so I recall the Democrats were having trouble. That study I made was to somehow find its way into the Senate Labor
Committee's report, whether word for word, I don't know, but most of it was taken over.
JOHNSON: Then published as part of the hearings of the committee?
KAYLE: Yes. Of course, there was no attribution. I mean it was just attributed to the minority position. But it involved the workings of the Taft-Hartley Act.
JOHNSON: Like you say, they weren't necessarily aware of your report, but...
KAYLE: I think Elmer was aware of my training. I think he was probably as much impressed with my internship at the National Institute of Public Affairs, because Elmer was oriented in that direction. Also, this assignment involved the willingness of a chap with a law degree background to take on something which did not entail 100 percent legal work as such. It was legislative work which
did involve the law but not exclusively.
JOHNSON: Very generalized.
KAYLE: Very generalized, but others like Charlie [Charles S. Murphy] had worked in this field in the Senate. But the work entailed drafting legislation, being on teams that were involved in drafting of legislation, and in that sense the legal background was absolutely essential. I was very much intrigued with the whole idea and didn't have too much difficulty in telling Elmer within a short time that I would be happy to take the job. So, I was assigned to Roger Jones in the Legislative Reference Division,
JOHNSON: There was a [Charles] Maylon and a [Joseph G.] Feeney.
KAYLE: They were on the White House staff when I joined the Budget Bureau. I may have had some contact with Feeney before I joined the White
House staff. I would say that from the day that I joined the Bureaus Legislative Reference Division my major contacts were with Dave Stowe and Charlie Murphy on the legislative, or substantive, side. I wasn't involved in the White House effort per se, with Congressional liaison. That would come later when I was actually on the staff. But I was put in that milieu, and I would say within two weeks one of my first assignments was to represent the Budget Bureau, along with Wilber Fritz, on a multi-agency project, Fritz wasn't a budget analyst; he was in the administrative-management side, I believe, or an economist. We were working on the interagency committee to recommend to the President proposals for the disposal of the synthetic rubber plants. The Budget Bureau position, that was my concern, involved the White House almost from the very beginning. So I began to make contacts with White House personnel, but primarily I worked with Dave Stowe on the domestic side. There was a fellow
from Steelman's office, Bob [Robert C.] Turner whom I recall but that may have been just a little later when the Korean war came on in 1950.
JOHNSON: Where was your office?
KAYLE: It was in the Executive Office Building. We had a huge office; I shared it with Dick [Richard Neustadt] and a couple of other guys, and then Roger Jones had his own separate office. We were on the same floor as the Director, so it was the second floor.
Eddie [Edward B.] Bowers was the assistant, really the number-two man to Roger. What happened was that the Legislative Reference Division had been given a new lease on life under Elmer, and then Elmer was moved up as Deputy Director, I believe, to Frank Pace, Then Roger took over, and Roger became the Assistant Director in Charge of Legislative Reference, and Eddie Bowers was
his number-one man. And there were three or four of us besides that worked in these areas.
JOHNSON: So you got involved with domestic legislation?
KAYLE: Domestic, primarily. My area would have been labor, then the Federal Security Agency which later became HEW, and is now Health and Human Services. Itís become the giant it is, but in those days it was the FSA. And I would be involved in legislation affecting the Labor Department and the Agriculture Department, to some extent.
JOHNSON: Oscar Ewing was head of Federal Security...
KAYLE: FSA right. Right.
JOHNSON: Did you deal with him?
KAYLE: I dealt with the agency, not with him so much. I remember in the labor areas there was [Michael J.] Galvin the Under Secretary, with
whom I had direct contact on a few occasions. But the Budget Bureau's job was to coordinate the Government's position. We had the responsibility of determining if a piece of legislation was in accord with the President's program. After polling all of the interested agencies, we would end up with advice on whether the legislation in question was in accord with the President's program, or was not. When it wasn't, or even when it was, it was a significant thing to say, and we had to be sure to be tied in with Charlie's office. Murphy, I think, was our main liaison, and we had to be certain that what we were saying was in fact correct. In many cases, unless we were told to the contrary, there was a history, there were "standbys" on certain pieces of legislation; we always knew that if bill such and such with a different number came back, it was "out" or it was "in."
JOHNSON: Were some of these bills initiated by
Congressmen without any consultation necessarily with the White House
KAYLE: Right. That's right,
JOHNSON: And these are the ones that you were particularly interested in, in staffing, or coordinating?
KAYLE: Well, what would happen is that the committees would ask the various agencies in the administration to comment, or to give their positions on proposed legislation. So their reports, theoretically, were supposed to be cleared through the Budget Bureau, the Legislative Reference Branch, before they went down to the Hill. The agency would state in its report that this particular bill. was, or was not, in accord with the President's program. In order for an agency to make this statement, we had to look at the report and the legislation to determine the status, and if there was a variance from the presidents program we'd take it upon ourselves, after checking with the proper people, to either bring the
matter to the attention of the agency, or it would become a substantive issue that had to be resolved by the White House or some specially designated official.
JOHNSON: You got to see this bill right after it was drafted, I mean the initial draft, the first draft?
KAYLE: No, it would be drought to our attention only when an agency would be requested by a committee to make its comment, At that point...
JOHNSON: At the committee hearing.?
KAYLE: Well, even before the committee hearing, before that report went back from the Agriculture Department, for example, that report would have come over to our office for our "look-see," If it involved five or six agencies we might very well have had to wait until we heard from the other agencies before we could take a coordinated
position on it. Now this was time consuming. This is not to say that prior to every hearing that was held on legislation, the committee members, or the chairman, had a letter back from the Budget Bureau or from the individual agencies saying this bill was or was not in accord with the President's program. When there was a significant piece of legislation the President's position would surely be known long in advance, and it wouldn't be done through our routine process, but we would be involved in the procedure. Charlie would be in touch, or Roger would be in touch at a very high level. ,And that would be cleared quickly, and Roger would be clearing with the top people.
My job in the beginning certainly was more involved in the routine things, or long-range problems, but on high level matters, there was a need to know the President's position promptly, That was done very quickly, and there were some very sensitive issues that were handled at the
JOHNSON: Now the draft of that bill, after you had reviewed it or after the agencies had reviewed it, if you had coordinated it, would go back to a Congressional committee for what, final hearing?
KAYLE: Yes, final hearing, and maybe incorporation of proposed amendments. We sometimes would suggest language for that purpose. You'll see that in various Congressional committee reports, where copies of letters from the agencies were reproduced, there was usually a line in the last paragraph that would advise that "this legislation is or is not in accord with the President's program," or "we've been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that subject to certain changes there was no objection to the legislation." It was standard language in most cases.
JOHNSON: Then when it came out in final form of the
bill, for the President's signature, it would be coordinated again?
JOHNSON: This I believe is what we have in our bill file, the White House bill file.
KAYLE: That's right. What would happen is that an enrolled bill would come back to our office, Legislative Reference in the Budget Bureau. Then our job was to poll each agency that could have any interest at all in that legislation. Their position might have been clear when we coordinated their reports earlier, but we still had to give them a shot at it; we still had to have their answer. And there were a number of cases where you would have three agencies for and two against. There were some very tight issues, particularly the natural gas bill -- I remember that one in particular. That was Senator [Robert] Kerr's attempt to eliminate the regulation of gas at the
wellhead, It was a very significant piece of legislation. I remember the fight in the Congress on this issue, and the jubilation in the Legislative Reference Division when the President vetoed the bill as the Bureau had recommended. Not that we were decisive, but the Bureau always would consolidate the opinions of the agencies and then at the end it would say, "We recommend such and such action by the President." Sometimes the Bureau would recommend certain actions even though the poll from the agencies was against them, 3-2 for example, three favoring and two against, and the Bureau would say were against it. That would happen. Again, this was a decision made by Roger or Elmer, or...
JOHNSON: Roger Jones was the one who usually signed the memos.
KAYLE: I think he did, yes, at Legislative Reference, right.
JOHNSON: The memos may have been prepared by you or [Richard] Neustadt?
KAYLE: Yes, or Dick. Yes, we did a lot of that work. And we took it very seriously. After all, we were the agency of last resort. We were the last place in the clearance process before something went across the street. Now that's not to say the agencies didn't have their direct contact with the White House on important issues.
JOHNSON: When you recommended passage, did the President always sign...
KAYLE: This I would not know. I imagine we had a pretty darn good record of being consistent with what the President wanted. Again, I can't speak for Roger, but I kind of felt he became an expert on knowing what to do in those areas.
JOHNSON: You can't remember the Presidents not accepting?
KAYLE: Oh, that I can't, but it might well have happened. It could well have happened.
JOHNSON: Price regulation of gas -- that's one that kind of stands out?
KAYLE: Yes, the Kerr gas bill stands out in my mind very much, because I remember it was close and there was a lot of political pressure, because Bob Kerr, Democrat from Oklahoma, was doing all he could to get that through. But the veto was certainly consumer-oriented and very important, and it was a victory.
JOHNSON: Now that remained in effect until '78?
KAYLE: Well, I think there have been some modifications of it, but some observers today point the finger back to Truman's veto. You know, the revisionists are now saying that Harry Truman was responsible for the maintenance of price controls on natural gas and that is why we're in this switch we are
now experiencing. My God, we had a terrible inflationary problem back in our day, even though at a much lower percentage level. If that control came off, gas prices would have zoomed. I mean in the full sweep of tune we're better off having kept the tempest down. So that action by the president then, I know was good for the consumer per se.
JOHNSON: Well, it's said that Harry Truman did not succeed very well in getting domestic legislation passed. He was much more successful with his foreign policy.
KAYLE: It's true. It took over 20 years to get the kind of legislation he wanted. I mean he had the vision in education and health, in housing, to know what was needed, but it was only when Lyndon Johnson came down the pike, or after we had lived with these problems long enough, that we got the kind of things that Harry saw as being important in '48.
I'm trying to think of any first visits to the Hill. I would accompany Roger to the Hill when he would testify. Sometimes the Bureau would be asked to testify on legislation, not monumental things, and I remember going up on the Hill a few times with, Roger when he testified before certain committees. I had the distinct feeling that the Congress was far from willing to follow Harry Truman on the glorious road that he had pictured for this country. And as the years went by and as I was in different roles in Government, it sometimes shocked me to find that the President, as such, didn't have the kind of support he should have had with the majority party still in control. That was apparent really early in the game.
JOHNSON: The 81st Congress, of course, succeeded the "do nothing, good for nothing 80th Congress," and it didn't do a great deal more.
KAYLE: No, they did not.
JOHNSON: The Southern Democrat conservatives tended to block legislation?
KAYLE: Absolutely, no question about it. I think many on the staff felt that we were, and Harry Truman himself must have realized he was, creating a record for history. Of course, I joined the staff only months before the President had decided not to run again. He told his staff in November '51 he wasnít going to run in '52. I had only been on the staff maybe three months. But I had been working so close to the White House from the beginning of my career. It was in January '49 roughly that I came into Government, and it was February to September 1951 that I was in the Office of Defense Mobilization. I was the Assistant General Counsel in charge of Legislation, stemming from the work I had done earlier in the Budget Bureau. Again, in that area, in that job I was entirely living with the Defense Production Act and the implementation of
the Economic Stabilization program, with Mike DeSalle, and Eric Johnston, and others, when Charles "GE" Wilson was the head of ODM. Much of what I did there likewise involved the White House people. That's how I came to know Charlie Murphy and Dave Stowe and Dave Bell so well. So even before I "came across the street," as we put it, I was a part of that team. I had chores that would take me on the Hill and give me some insights which were only reinforced when I did join the White House staff, as such.
JOHNSON: As Assistant General Counsel of the Office of Defense Mobilization, for those months from February to September, did you find this to be a notable change from what you had been doing?
KAYLE: No, it was really an extension, except that it became highly specialized in that I was living only with the mobilization program occasioned by the Korean war situation. You had, in a very small degree, something of the ferment that
existed during World War II in terms of war agencies being created, and jobs and responsibilities opening that normally wouldn't have been available. I moved from the bottom of the Civil Service compensation ranks to pretty close to the top, before those super grades which we didn't have in my time. I was promoted every six months, double-jump grades because there were jobs open, and the ODM was an example of it. I was qualified salary-wise to take on the title of Assistant General Counsel. I specialized in legislation and we had the amendments to the Defense Production Act coming up. That was the thing I lived with pretty much; it was my main responsibility, working with Herbert Bergson, who was the General Counsel of the Office of Defense Mobilization, under Charles "GE'' Wilson.
JOHNSON: Now did that involve any of this tax legislation, excess profits tax and...
KAYLE: No, I was not involved in that aspect of it
at all. It was the Defense Production Act per se, and the amendments to it.
JOHNSON: Sort of mobilizing industry?
KAYLE: It was the framework of our priorities for war materiel and the framework of the Economic Stabilization program. The Act was enacted in June of '50, originally, and these were the amendments to the Defense Production Act, the 1951 amendments. We had had a year of experience, a lot of discontent with what was happening. I was involved in working with Herb Bergson and briefing Charles "GE" Wilson for his appearances before the Congressional committees, with respect to the amendments of the Act. It was quite an interesting experience working with Wilson. He was a genius when it came to production, but he was just not equipped when it came to testifying before a. committee on the economic aspects of the stabilization program. It was an intricate area, and he was over his head, in contrast to an Eric
Johnston, for example. You could brief Eric Johnston in twenty minutes, and he knew exactly enough to be able to handle himself beautifully before a Congressional committee. Charles "GE" Wilson, in contrast, was just out of his element. He was a lovely, well-meaning man, but he just didn't have that oral dexterity when it came to committee appearances. He was a production genius, no doubt, and, in fairness to him, his background in industry left him less than enthusiastic on the Economic Stabilization aspects of the Korean war effort.
JOHNSON: They called him "Electric Charlie,"
KAYLE: Yes, Electric Charlie, that's right. I liked him, and I remember an interesting point. When I decided to come "across the street" and go to work with the White House staff, I went in to say good-bye to Mr. Wilson. He said, "Oh yes, I hear you're leaving us, Kayle, you're going across to work at the White House. Why would you do that?"
I thought, "the ego of the man!" Why would you go work for the president of the United States when you could work for me? I remember saying to him, "Well, you know, my work here has been pretty limited. I'm going to be given a broader responsibility in the economic stabilization program, and I thought it would be nice to let myself be exposed that way."
It's interesting. Many years later my firm that I'm now counsel to, Gilbert, Segall and Young in New York, just by happenstance became the firm that handled his personal estate. I wasn't involved in it, but when Charles "GE" Wilson came to the office, my partner saw to it that I came in to talk to him, and we reminisced a bit. He said he remembered me, and maybe he did. After all, I had just a few months contact with him at the time. But we talked about the Washington that we knew, and Charles "GB" Wilson told me that he was really the man that Roosevelt wanted instead of Truman to be his Vice President, You
know, Wilson resigned in great umbrage during the steel strike situation, and I don't know whether he and the President became friendly again later on. But his resignation was a great disservice at the time, as far as we on the White House staff were concerned.
JOHNSON: But he was sincerely under that impression?
KAYLE: Yes. I think that was part of his problem when he came to work in Washington; he kind of had this chip on his shoulder.
JOHNSON: Did he ever indicate that Roosevelt had ever said anything to him?
KAYLE: Well, that was the implication, yes.
JOHNSON: That Roosevelt had told him that personally?
KAYLE: For some reason. I never got down to why it was that he believed that. There were others, of course, who thought they should have had that
designation. I think [William O.] Douglas felt that he likewise should have been the nominee, and that Truman did something nefarious by being named against his own will, if you believe history. But it's interesting how that attitude has persisted.
JOHNSON: You are a member of the firm?
KAYLE: No, I'm "counsel to." I've been counsel since 1969, and it's really a relationship where I'm responsible for my own clients and we work jointly on some other matters. But I'm not a partner. I don't have the problems of administration or overhead, and I live or die on my own client income. The firm does share some work with me.
JOHNSON: The name of that firm again?
KAYLE: Gilbert, Segall, and Young, and we've been at 430 Park Avenue in New York City for a number of years.
JOHNSON: So you are gradually working toward the White House.
KAYLE: Yes. I believe it was in July of 1951 that Dave Stowe asked if I would come join the White House staff. I think I can remember when the idea came into his mind that he would want me on the White House staff. It was in the Budget Bureau days. As you know, the Budget Bureau Legislative Reference was a clearance point for various bills, et cetera, and there was a controversy involving a labor matter in which the Labor Department, with its constituency -- the labor movement -- had very strong concern. It was decided to bring the labor people -- the outside labor people -- in, along with the Labor Department, and, I think, Federal Security Agency representatives, to meet with the Budget Bureau. The purpose was to explain why it was that the President had taken a particular position on legislation which was not pleasing to organized labor. I don't know the substantive issue before it, but I know the meeting was conducted by Dave Stowe, I was asked to represent the Budget Bureau.
The meeting got started and Michael Calvin, Under Secretary of Labor, was there for the Labor Department. I don't remember the labor union people, but they were fairly important, and there was someone from BSA. Well, the meeting got started, and as we moved along there was the Labor Department, Calvin, and the FSA guy all pointing their fingers at the Bureau o£ the Budget because we had said we were against this proposal, based on the polling we had conducted. And I was sitting there chaffing at it all. I finally raised my hand and said, "Mr. Stowe, I would like to explain to the gentlemen from organized labor how we work on this Legislative Reference procedure." I explained the fact that everything the Bureau did, we did only after we had polled the various agencies who were interested and then established a coordinated position, and this was not the Budget Bureau acting out of its own fiat, but this was the way that we worked.
Well, Calvin looked at me -- he didn't know who the hell I was -- and said, "Young man, are you trying to alienate the Labor Department from our friends?"
I said, "Mr. Under Secretary, not in the slightest. I just think the Budget Bureau's position should be understood. We're not working out of a vacuum."
Well, Dave Stowe sat back and he had a look on his face; he was just eating it up. There was no reason to be silent. My attitude in the Bureau, and in all the things I did was that I thought it was silly "to be an empty chair." You believe in what you are doing, and there is no point in being there unless your work has some content.
From then on Dave was a good friend of mine, He asked me to join the White House staff in July of '51, and it was a very difficult thing for me to decide, because I liked the Government, It was still early in my career, and I was concerned
about getting too far afield from legal matters. And I had no idea what the President was going to do, if he was going to run again or what, The Democrats had been in for so long. I told Dave the first time around that I wasn't interested. Then about two or three weeks later, maybe a month later, in the summertime, he talked to me about it, and I told him that I was concerned about being too far removed from legal things. I wanted to keep my hand in those matters. He came back and said, "Well, we'd like you to come aboard, but you'll be assigned to Charlie Murphy as well as to me, and you will work on a lot of legal matters with Charlie. He needs help." That really appealed to me, and that's when I decided to go across.
Dave Stowe had been there for quite awhile. I would say David was an Administrative Assistant certainly before I left the Budget Bureau to go to ODM, Dave had been in the Budget Bureau before that.
JOHNSON: And Neustadt had already...
KAYLE: Neustadt had proceeded me by about a year I would say. Maybe about a year after I joined the Budget Bureau, Neustadt left to join the White House staff.
JOHNSON: Being Assistant General Counsel to ODM would be considered more or less temporary?
KAYLE: That was a temporary war agency, absolutely.
JOHNSON: And you were expecting then to go back to the Budget Bureau?
KAYLE: I suppose that was true. There was a better chance after having gone to ODM, to go back into the Government, right, though even going to ODM from the Budget Bureau was quite a step. I was told by Roger Jones at the time, and he meant very well, that if I left to go to OPM he couldn't "do anything for me," in the sense of making sure I would have continuous employ in the Government, and I understood that.
JOHNSON: Wasnít that still Civil Service?
KAYLE: Well, it's interesting, Somehow or other my appointment with ODM was not under the Civil Service cap, and I wasn't available for a pension until I went to the White House staff, which is funny, knowing I had a terminal assignment. I made a bit of a pension contribution then. It was just the idea that once you work on the White House staff you know very well that if a different administration comes in you're not going to end up in the Government, especially if your initial appointment is political. I knew that was one of the consequences.
JOHNSON: That's right; it would be terminal.
KAYLE: It is. You know its going to end in four years or eight at the most.
JOHNSON: So it was David Stowe that persuaded you to go across to the White House in September, as Special Assistant in the White House Office.
JOHNSON: What kind of work did you do there?
KAYLE: I think I was brought over primarily because of the work I had done within the economic stabilization program in terms of the wage stabilization program, which was being run by Eric Johnston. Well, the whole economic program was being run by Eric Johnston at that stage of the game, and by Mike DiSalle.
JOHNSON: This is a big subject, getting into the kind of work and the kind of procedures that were followed in the Office of the White House. A dissertation has been done on this, but I am sure there are things about it that haven't been put down in writing. I'd be glad to get your reminiscences.
KAYLE: Well, you see, as a Special Assistant in the White House Office, assigned to David Stowe, and Charles Murphy, I really would be occupied on
those assignments which would reflect something that Dave had to get done, or that Charlie wanted to be done. I wasn't part of the morning staff meetings with the president, and I was not at the outset given a particular area that was my responsibility. I would follow up on assignments that either Dave Stowe or Charlie Murphy would give me, so there was no definite pattern that I could say existed.
JOHNSON: Where was your office there?
KAYLE: I was still in the Executive Office Building. When I went from the Budget Bureau, the second floor, to ODM as Assistant General Counsel, my office was on a different floor of the Executive Office Building, When I went to the White House, I still remained in the Executive Office Building. The only difference was that I finally got a very lovely private office, in which I shared the lobby with Clayton Fritchey. Clayton Fritchey was on the other side with his office, and my secretary
and his secretary sat in the reception room together.
JOHNSON: This was on the second floor?
KAYLE: Yes, I think it was the second floor as well. I was not in the White House per se, physically. As a reflection of the fact of how small the staff was, from the day I joined it, I was given White House mess privileges so that I would eat there at lunch all the time, and could have guests there, which was a lovely thing to be able to do.
JOHNSON: Were Stowe and Neustadt still in the Executive Office Building?
KAYLE: Yes. They never had offices in the White House as I recall. I don't think Dave Bell ever got across; I'm not sure.
There were really two teams in the White House. There was the Murphy team, which was Murphy, Stowe, Dave Bell, Dave Lloyd, and Dick
Neustadt and myself. Then there was the Steelman group, with Harold Enarson, Russ Andrews, and a few people like that, with the responsibilities that they had. I wouldn't say that there was competition between the groups as such, but there were different areas of responsibility. Ken Hechler was part of Murphy's staff, and Ken would be more on the research and history side of things.
After I had been there maybe just two weeks, I met the president for the first time when we had some kind of a fracas, as always, between the GSA, Ewing's organization, and the Labor Department. Murphy was representing Labor's position, and Dave was representing the FSA position, and we went in to see the president about this particular problem. It wasn't an earthshaking matter. They said, "Come on along; we want you to meet the president." It was the first time I met him. I walked into the Oval office, and, of course, I was introduced. You know it was such a great moment in my life. I understood the problem we
had here, but I figured they asked me just to come along as an observer. Well, Dave presented the position of one agency and Charlie the other, and the President sat back and said, "Well, young man, what do you think about this?" Well, I didn't anticipate the President asking me.
JOHNSON: Put you on the spot.
KAYLB: What I was able to do was to be sufficiently circumlocutions. It was as if he wanted to pick the man to coordinate this. Then he said, "I don't care which way you go; whatever way you go, I'm with it." And that was the way it was resolved. But I thought many years later, can you picture an Eisenhower or a Nixon, or most Presidents, wanting to even hear what a young man had to say, whether he was putting me on the spot or not.
Maybe three or four weeks later -- I'm just trying to think of the consequences or the circumstances -- but as part of Murphy's team I sat
in on the first freezing session of a President's speech. I'm trying to think where it was. I remember we sat around the table -- it was in the Fish Room, I believe, It was the first time I had seen the President reading a draft, which I don't think he had seen before. What impressed me were the comments he made as he went along, alluding to certain historical references. I mean, there was depth of understanding. It may have been the first time he saw the speech and people were theoretically putting words in his mouth, but they were putting words in his mouth only with his absolute and complete understanding of what he was saying.
JOHNSON: This might have been the Gompers Square speech.
KAYLE: Absolutely, that's what it was. What date was that?
JOHNSON: October '51.
KAYLE: That's it; that was absolutely it, and I marked up a copy of that speech in my personal files. Well, that was the speech, and there was a reference to Fiorello LaGuardia in there someplace.
JOHNSON: Who made the first draft?
KAYLE: I was involved. I wasn't on the team that started that draft, so I don't know, but I was in on the freeze and maybe one or two sessions before, in terms of refining it further.
JOHNSON: One sentence that struck me was, "Gompers has never regarded organized labor as a pressure group concerned only with private selfish gains. On the contrary he thought of the cause of organized labor as the cause of human justice." Now was that more or less the attitude of you and Stowe...
KAYLE: Right, absolutely.
JOHNSON: ...and the staff in general?
KAYLE: Well, that particular wing of the staff, lets say, yes. We were not a "hard fire" radical group. I think our sympathies lay towards the labor movement, towards the consumer, the Roosevelt doctrines, you know, of what an understanding government could do.
JOHNSON: If you had to take one label or the other, I suppose you would take a pro-labor label.
KAYLE: Yes. I would say more I was consumer-oriented, people-oriented. I always have felt that there are enough brains fighting for the propertied, and the well-to-do in this country, and that it made sense for some of us to bring a little balance into it, It's interesting how in my day even, in '48, as a Harvard Law School graduate -- Dave Lloyd went to Harvard Law School too -- I was told by some of the "knowledgeable peoples" what a .great mistake I was making in going to work, number one, for the Government, and secondly for Harry Truman.
I also remember in the steel strike when we
went to the Supreme Court hearing, when [Philip B.] Perlman made the Government's argument, and Arthur Goldberg argued amicus curiae, and I met Roger Blough, who was general counsel of U.S. Steel. He later became president of the company. In some way or other we got onto the fact that we both had gone to Harvard Law School. I remember him saying, "How could a Harvard Law School man work for Harry Truman?" It was just like college guys talking. I said, "Mr. Blough," -- he was older than I -- don't you think the President's entitled to as much talent as he can get?" But today, the White House is a great stepping stone.
JOHNSON: Was there an attitude of superiority among corporate presidents as compared even to the United States President?
KAYLE: Oh, absolutely. Oh yes. I mean in terms of the power of money, it's way out of proportion.
JOHNSON: Kind of like J. P. Morgan telling Teddy
Roosevelt, "Send your man to meet my man!"?
KAYLE: Yes, that idea. There has always been this problem. One of the great things about Harry S. Truman was that he was not in awe of great wealth, and I think if you start from that base, not that wealth is your enemy, you are able to keep the proper perspective, in contrast to other Presidents who couldn't wait to get rich, or couldn't wait to be as rich as the ones whose lifestyles they envied.
JOHNSON: There was quite a bit of pressure certainly in '50 and '51. The Korean war is blamed for ending domestic reform and whatever liberal domestic programs would have been implemented. I think the housing program for instance just got started, and it got kind of wiped put. National health insurance didn't make it. They finally did raise the minimum wage, four years after he had asked for it. In the Social Security Acts, there was the extension of Social Security
to ten million more people in 1950.
KAYLE: As I say, we were making a record for the years to follow, in terms of most of what happened on legislative recommendations from the middle of his own last four years. I really feel the President was working for history and doing it in such a way that much of what he was asking for came true. recall one of the assignments I was given was the President's Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation. This was a project which really was set up to get the President off the hook of being in favor of "socialized medicine," with which he was being tarred and feathered. The president was really not that inured to socialized medicine, per se. He wanted to improve the health needs of the nation in terms of the doctor shortages, personnel, and the devastating effects of catastrophic illness, and the like. This assignment, again, was under Stowe, and I guess it would also involve Murphy,
but Stowe was given the major responsibility. I, in turn, worked with Dr. [Howard] Rusk and Mary Lasker to staff the commission, and get the research processes, going enabling us to develop recommendations. I think we had a budget of a million dollars and we did come up with a report at the end which pointed out that there was a need for certain kinds of personnel and doctors, dentists, nurses, et cetera. We directed our efforts towards a much broader concern for health than purely the aspect of having every doctor work for the Government, and all those so called "communistic" and "socialistic" programs that were being attributed to Harry Truman's position in the health field.
JOHNSON: You mentioned Rusk.
KAYLE: Yes, Dr. Howard Rusk. He was really a fine gentleman. I stayed friendly with him over the years. He was a professional medical entrepreneur in Washington. I am sure he continued with Republican administrations as well as Democratic to
advance causes in the health field, as did Mary Easker. I mean Mary spent much of her money advancing medical research, and when it took Government action she was in there with her people. There was a "Red" Doff, I believe, whom I worked with as well, when we set this commission up.
JOHNSON: They did favor the national health program?
KAYLE: Yes, they were in favor of getting it. We got Dr. Paul S. Magnuson, who was formerly with the Veteran's Administration. I guess at one time he had been at odds with the president, but he came back and headed up the commission. He was a very well-reputed gentleman, who could get men and women from a wide spectrum of the health profession to serve on the commission.
JOHNSON: That apparently occurred in December of 1951, the creation of the President's Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation.
KAYLE: Yes. It was one of the steps toward establishing a balanced health program in this country.
JOHNSON: Was this the first time we got into the health field
KAYLE: That was the first time. Well, based on what I had done in FSA, I suppose I was drawing upon some of the matters I worked with there. I had spent a lot of time with matters involving the vocational Rehabilitation Bureau, which may have been switched from FSA to the Labor Department. I worked with Mary Switzer.
JOHNSON: Is this from the days when you were...
KAYLE: In the Budget Bureau as well as in the White House staff. It was a continuation of those areas that I had been involved in.
JOHNSON: I know one of the objectives of President Truman apparently was to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act.
KAYLE: Right. Again, when I joined the staff of Dave Stowe -- one o£ those things that is covered somewhere in the file -- we had an occasion to issue a statement from the President on labor matters. I don't know what the occasion was, but the bottom line was the objective of moving the president away from the position of advocating repeal of the Act. Rather, our view was that whatever was good should be retained, and the bad features of it, the emergency provisions, in particular, were what needed legislative attention. Dave and I worked on that, and I don't think we were doing a disservice to the labor movement, They may have felt so, but I thought the President was hurting himself. You couldn't logically say you had to wipe the whole thing out, because theoretically you were saying to wipe out the Wagner Act, or start from scratch. But you've got to build on a base of some kind. So I think that came up in our discussions.
JOHNSON: Apparently they did get one change to it; they eliminated the need for elections for a union shop. That had been an expensive proposition. That was in '49.
KAYLE: That's the only substantive thing that we got, right, really during the whole period. Well, I agree that if you look back in the history of the administration, what happened in the foreign area was more significant. You know, when this President came in, the country was tired. We had gone through a war; then this unfortunate corruption issue came up and that didn't help the attitude too much, as well.
I had an interesting little thing happen. As I say, I didn't know the President; I was hired strictly by Murphy and Stowe. I don't know whether the President would even. get involved in saying, "Yes, take on one more person on the staff." I just don't know about that. What happened is that the President decided that everybody
who was on the staff would come down to the Little White House in Key West in November of '51. I had been on the staff just a little over two months although I had been around quite awhile working on assignments with everyone else when I was in other agencies. In any event, I went down on the plane with Neustadt and Hechler and Dallas Halverstadt, I believe.
Within a couple of days I was out sitting on the beach with the President at Key West, and it was in the middle of the deep freeze controversy. Harry Vaughan walked away with his shoulders kind of down. I was sitting next to the President, and he said, "Oh, Harry is taking an awful beating." Here I was; I had been on the staff just two months, a young whippersnapper. How does one handle a situation like that? I felt that you have to be like Caeser's wife around the president, and that if in fact there had been such bad judgment shown, that you "cut off the neck." This was the thinking of an inexperienced,
young idealistic guy, but I was not going to say that to the President, especially about Harry Vaughan who had been through so much with him. So I said, "Well, Mr. President, people are confused." I remember his looking over to me and he knew what I was implying. He said, "Well, young man, you read your history books. See what they did to Lincoln." He said, "They're trying to get at me through Harry Vaughan, and I'll be damned if I'll let then." You know, that was his attitude; at the moment the adverse publicity was devastating, but in the full sweep of time, Harry Vaughan in no way seriously hurt the President.
I know in my experience Harry Vaughan was never a person I was sent to on any substantive issues. In contrast, as I said when we were chatting this morning, Admiral Dennison, who was a tower of strength, was certainly important in the substantive area of maritime matters. He
was very instrumental, and given a lot of authority. Even in the Budget Bureau I remember working on maritime matters with Admiral Dennison, or people from his staff, So he was important. I am sure that General Vaughan was important in terms of his relationship on a personal side with the president, and the President knew what he was doing in that case. He decided just to ride it out,
JOHNSON: As I recall there were unsolicited deep-freezers.
KAYLE: That's right. I mean it was just a peripheral thing, but unfortunately it was the kind of thing that the press was picking up and making a big fuss about.
JOHNSON: Did you have any other occasions to speak to President Truman directly?
KAYLE: When I was alone with him, I never had that kind of an experience again. I do recall the
last dinner he gave for members of his staff, and that's an interesting point.
When I joined the staff, I found that there were two main groups, if I can put it that way. There was the intellectual group -- the speechwriting, substantive issue men -- which were Murphy and his people. And again there were Steelman and his people, with their respective areas of responsibility. Then, as another group you had Matt Connelly and Joe Feeney and those people who were very important in the daily running of the White House. And there was a kind of a difference between the two groups. If Matt Connelly didn't like you for any reason, there were a lot of the little perquisites around the White House, and you would suffer.
Well, I got along fine with Matt and I was invited to that dinner, I'm convinced, because Matt liked me. But if he didn't like you, you werenít asked. There was a beautiful little invitation, and it was a very exciting night when
everybody from Acheson and Marshall down to M.P. Kayle, who was really newly arrived on the staff comparatively speaking, participated in this wonderful dinner, It was a black-tie affair, with the Marine Band playing, and cocktails in the Red Room after meeting in the Blue Room, and then the State Dining Room all set up. As coincidence would have it, we sat at this rectangular table, and I was right across from the President. It wasn't protocol; it was just one of those things, and it was an exciting night.
There were speeches by Acheson and a few others. I do remember that Matt got drunk; he may have had a feeling that he was in for some problems, and that was a little embarrassing for all of us. But as we walked out, the President was standing at the door. I was young and it was an early time in my career, and I said to him, "No matter what happens to me the rest of my life, I'm sure that nothing I do will be
as gratifying or as challenging as what I've teen able to do with you."
He said, "Kayle, I wish I were your age." In all he had gone through, he would like to have done it all over again, at that age, which I think was a reflection of the kind of person he was.
I remember also the other thing about him was that when we'd sit around on some of the freeze sessions on speeches, or during the emergency with the steel strike, if we were there on a Saturday afternoon, more than once he would say he just left "the Boss" or Margaret at the Blair House, where they were living then, and tell us, "I know you gentlemen have left your children and your women or your wives and really appreciate your coming down." He did that; he was such a considerate kind of guy, while it is so hard to believe other men in that position would even bother to talk about such matters.
JOHNSON: You mentioned Steelman, who of course was involved in mediating labor disputes in the White House. Were you ever assigned to work for Steelman?
KAYLE: No, not directly. There was always a division of labor, but when we got involved in the steel strike issue, it was a double effort. I would say that they were all involved, the Steelman people as well as the Murphy people. It's interesting; Steelman would be the contact with industry and he had his own industry feelers, you know, and ways of getting their reaction to certain things, and I would not be involved in that side of it that much. Then, we on the Murphy side would more or less be in contact with labor. I remember sitting in a couple of meetings with Arthur Goldberg or whoever would be involved in terms of the problems that were going on, and I'm sure on the other side in the East Wing you'd have Steelman meeting with these industry
people. It broke down pretty much that way. The synthetic rubber program, with the Budget Bureau, was under Steelman's office I'm pretty sure. It was things of that nature. I knew John, but I didn't have that much dealings with him as I remember.
JOHNSON: You mentioned the steel strike, Do you want to explain your role in that
KAYLE: Well, again, I was assigned to some of the legal aspects of it, working with the Justice Department, and with Dave Stowe and Murphy. I made some analyses of the various proposals that came out of the Justice Department. I remember canvassing the Defense Department in terms of the emergency aspects of it, and being reassured that this in fact was the case, It turns out that that probably was the reason why we ended up the way we did, that the so called emergency shortages didn't exist, and the court wasn't convinced of that.
To get specific, and I'm sure the file will show some of the things I worked on, I recall being at the court session with the team that went down to the Supreme Court that day, and remember how brilliant Arthur Goldberg was in arguing from the amicus curiae brief and how deplorably weak Perlman was, in contrast, as the Solicitor General. But I didnít hear the [Holmes] Baldridge argument at the District Court level.
JOHNSON: Now Goldberg was arguing for...
KAYLE: For the union, but arguing as amicus curiae supporting the Government's position, a brilliant exposition.
JOHNSON: You mentioned that memorandum that you would like to find in the papers.
KAYLE: Well, what happened on that is that the day after the Supreme Court ruled against the Government's position, Murphy came in, or sent me a note, I forget which, and said that the President
was, going to have dinner at Justice [Hugo] Black's home that evening, and he, Charlie, would like me to put down on one piece of paper, preferably one paragraph, what was wrong with the Supreme Court decision. I remember taking a deep breath and as the bottom line I came up with a statement saying that in effect the Justices, the majority, substituted its judgment for the president's in terms of the degree of the emergency. In other words, there wasn't that shortage of steel that would threaten national security, based on the affidavits which had been submitted.
I don't know whether in fact the president got the memo from Charlie incorporating what I suggested, but I do recall that a day or two later, whether it was from Charlie or whether I heard the president say it, that he did go to the dinner and he stood those "sons of bitches" up against the wall and he told them what was wrong with their decision. I remember saying, "Here I am, three years out of law school and
it's a way of getting back at the Supreme Court." I know the dinner took place because in Justice Douglas' book Go East Young Man, he talks about Truman coming to dinner after the Supreme Court decision and railing at them or something to that affect.
JOHNSON: Wasn't it unusual for the President to socialize with Supreme Court justices?
KAYLE: Well, it's interesting. I donít know that it was an unusual thing -- I mean this problem we've recently had highlighted about the relationship with members sitting on the bench. I remember Judge [Fred M.] Vinson and Mrs. Vinson were guests of the president at the Little White House in November of '51 when I joined the staff, Of course, the seizure took place in '52, But they were very close, very close, I guess this had been going on for years. I have a difficulty in my own mind to be upset about it frankly.
JOHNSON: President Truman accepted their decision with. a certain amount of grace?
KAYLE: Oh absolutely. There was never any question in his mind, at least from what I can gather from Murphy and Stowe, that if he lost on that issue that he would for one second question the authority of the Court in that matter. He had a tremendous respect for the Constitutional processes. There is no analogy between the challenge that the President made, or the extension of Presidential authority under the Constitution that the President tried to exercise, in contrast to what Richard Nixon was doing in Watergate.
JOHNSON: Executive privilege?
KAYLE: Abuse of power, primarily. The point is that what Richard Nixon was doing, he was doing without the public being aware of it. He hid behind the greatest walls of secrecy. Harry
Truman said, in. effect, "Okay, if I stretch the Constitution, I do it openly, and I ask the Court to judge me, and if they judge against me, I'm not going to fight it." Well, Nixon is still fighting it, and also the kind of stretching he did was not the kind that the world was aware of. So the analogy which was alleged to have existed and was seen in the newspapers often during Watergate was absolutely ill-placed and wrong.
JOHNSON: It was back to work as usual after that?
KAYLE: Oh yes. Back to work as usual. That's when we got involved in the Democratic convention and later Dave Bell was assigned to work on the Stevenson campaign.
One little thing that was interesting that may not show up in the files concerns how the White House worked in my day. There was legislation to extend the Fair Trade Act, that allowed retail price control by manufacturers, fair trade
legislation. The contention was that the small businessman would be driven out of the business if he wasn't protected from the huge chains who were able to cut prices of drugs and things of that nature, There had been an extension bill in the Congress and it presented a problem because it pitted Hubert Humphrey, the druggist, and the small businessman, against Senator Herbert Lehman, with union backing for the consumer side. It was a difficult piece of legislation to judge, and I remember when it came up, and it was touch and go. I told Dave Bell or Charlie Murphy that my father-in-law was in the wholesale drug business and maybe it would be interesting to hear how important that fair trade legislation was to the average druggist.
So we arranged to have a druggist come down from New York State, I had nothing to do with the meeting; I didn't want to, because of the possible conflict of interest, but I wanted Dave to have the benefit of listening, not reading a report,
but talking to an actual druggist and men that were involved in this whole problem. The bottom line is that the President did come out and favor the extension, that is, the Hubert Humphrey position. It was interesting though that they went to this extreme to try to get information "in the flesh." You can say it's ex camera, in terms of having one side of the thing, but actually it was just a bit more information. It was an indication of how far we went on the White House staff to try to have all the information possible to balance the pros and cons in coming up with a recommendation to the President.
JOHNSON: All this time, for the remainder of his administration, you were working more or less under Stowe's tutelage?
KAYLE: Yes, really it was Stowe and Charlie Murphy. Then the elections came, and I would say that a good part of the last six months we were involved in the Stevenson campaign. I didn't
have too much to do with pre-convention matters, but once Stevenson was nominated then the whole White House routine was changed, because the President was out on the whistle stop trips. I joined the campaign train in October, I believe it was October 9, in Buffalo, on the last leg of the trip through New York State that ended in New York City on Columbus Day. I joined him in Buffalo. I flew up to Buffalo, and then I came down through New York. That was the time when I requested, and Charlie let me write the first draft of the speech in Utica, which was my home town, with nearby Hamilton College being my college. Phil Jessup was one of the illustrious alumni of the college, and he was then on the Court of International Justice, but he had been attacked by [Joseph] McCarthy whom Eisenhower had refused to repudiate. So we worked that in. I worked that in as part of the draft and the president did a great job on Ike's condoning
McCarthy's tactics. It was very exciting for me, and it was an interesting way of establishing the record.
I remember I had a note from Phil Jessup many months later thanking me for having played that role. He heard about how it happened. I mean that whole McCarthy thing was such a terrible experience for anybody who was at the other end of it.
JOHNSON: For the speech in Utica, New York, you were chiefly responsible?
KYLE: I was chiefly responsible for working in that aspect of it, right.
JOHNSON: I have a document out of your own collection here, involving the Detroit speech.
JOHNSON: And you have a couple of pages of comments.
KAYLE: That's interesting. This was the Detroit speech
in '52, the labor speech?
JOHNSON: Yes. Apparently he was going to bear down hard on the Taft-Hartley Act, I'm not sure that he finally did, but you were cautioning him, it looks like, to moderate the rhetoric, I guess a draft must have included the term "slave labor" and you apparently didn't favor that kind of rhetoric.
KAYLE: I thought he had been ill-advised to be so extreme. It couldn't all be "slave" -- there were still the basic rights of collective bargaining being recognized, and there was this massive history of the Act which was not at all that bad.
JOHNSON: Did the Taft-Hartley Act actually incorporate provisions of the Wagner Act?
KAYLE: It replaced the Wagner Act but it was a reaffirmation of it, adding different aspects to
it. You had the whole history of the Wagner Act behind you there. Taft-Hartley was management's way of having the pendulum swing to the right, but it was not all bad.
JOHNSON: But the Wagner Act has been called the Magna Carta of labor?
KAYLE: Absolutely, yes.
JOHNSON: But you still thought there were shortcomings in the Taft-Hartley law?
JOHNSON: And they mainly hinged on these emergency provisions?
KAYLE: Well, that was one of the serious aspects of it. The steel strike was a good example of how labor had stayed on the job much longer at the heeding of the president than would have been the case had Taft-Hartley been used at the outset, but then if he were to apply the Taft-Hartley Act.
it was just going to prolong the stalemate assuredly for 80 days more. He would be in the same spot again. I don't recall how successful I was in affecting the tone of that speech.
JOHNSON: Well,, I looked at the speech in Detroit and it seemed like he did not...
KAYLE: Use these strong things that I saw in the early versions.
JOHNSON: In fact, the thrust of the speech even seemed to be somewhat different in that he didn't focus on Taft-Hartley.
KAYLE: What happened when we were involved in certain substantive fields was that we would get maybe second or third drafts of speeches and then make contributions or comments, or sit in on the drafting of the speech, or working sessions. I remember working on the train, We worked on the Columbus Day speech until like 3 o'clock in the morning. We finally froze it the morning before he was
giving it. There were some difficult times on the campaign trip as such.
I remember one little thing, whether it's history or not, but on that trip in New York we ended up at the Williamsburg Bridge in a huge rally. That is a Jewish section, with the Williamsburg Bridge around it. George Jessel was the master of ceremonies, and I remember his introducing the President and saying, "Harry S. Truman." And he said, "You know what S. stands for? Schloma," which in Jewish is Sam. Well that wasn't his name at all, but the people went mad.
JOHNSON: I note this was draft three of the labor speech. So there could have been several more drafts.
JOHNSON: Do you have any idea how many drafts they usually went through
KAYLE: I really don't know,
JOHNSON: You say "freezing;" that was the final draft.
KAYLE: That was the time when the President would come in and see it. Except for the changes he would make, that would be it, as on the Gompers speech. But it could depend on the importance of the speech. If he felt it was important enough, he'd say, "I'11 take this home and work on it." Then you'd have another session.
JOHNSON: You apparently had a rather direct role in this Detroit speech, and you mentioned the one in Utica. Are there any other speeches in that campaign in which you were instrumental?
KAYLE: Well, the one that Ken Hechler writes about in the book. I did draft his last whistle stop speech at Granite City, Illinois. I took great pride in that because, again, I had the first draft and I saw the final, and he came out pretty
much following the outline that I had suggested. It reflected his political philosophy, through the '48 campaign and all of his life, which was basically that if you tell the people the truth, they will usually do what's right. It sounds Pollyannaish, but it really was what he felt, and he had confidence in these basic virtues. I asked the president, and he did autograph it for me, the draft of that speech which I have at home. That one, and then another speech, and I don't know that it was any historical contribution, but there is a speech that the President gave, after the election, to the medical profession. That's when Charlie Murphy said to me, "Well, you have a shot at the first draft," which was one of the first assignments I had had of that nature. I did come up with a draft which incorporated a fair number of things that survived through the subsequent drafts. I remember the one idea I had was that the President was supposed
to have the reputation of battling the medical profession; he was supposed to have been their enemy, which was a lot of baloney. I remember starting out by saying, "We really have a lot in common, because any man who gives his life to medicine for the buck alone is ridiculous. It's a demanding profession. You've got to believe in what you do, and that's my attitude about politics. Any man who is in politics for the dollar alone ought to be behind bars." I don't know that we used that expression, but that was the idea and it stayed in. He went on, you know, to indicate what he had done, and what he felt, about health needs.
JOHNSON: Did Dr. Wallace Graham ever express an opinion about national health programs?
KAYLE: I've never had any idea about that from him, no. I imagine that Harry would have talked to him about that -- the president. Anyway, I would rather say Harry; I've always said "the President."
You're just endowed with that feeling.
JOHNSON: Well, what degree of success would you consider that he was able to reach on things that you were especially involved in, such as the health plan and labor legislation? Did you feel frustrated at all with this?
KAYLE: Again, if I look upon it in terms of the total experience from the Budget Bureau to ODM, to the White House staff, which is some four and a half years, whatever, I think he carne at a time in history where there were some monumental things he had to do right, but that had happened earlier, I mean the Marshall plan, the veto of the McCarran Act, and other things, His instincts were so right on things that were important. He served at a time in history where, you know, we had gone through a war and then a second war, the Korean war, which was so less well supported. It was a frustrating war to have fought in, and
it was a difficult period for us as administrators. With due respects to all of us, the Government did not have the caliber of the first team that came down in World War II. We were tired and we couldn't get the best people to work in Government on an emergency basis. When they came down you had to take them on their terms, like Charles "GE" Wilson. He was doing us a favor in coming down. That whole attitude existed, which is a difficult thing. So it was a tired kind of time, and it was late in his administration as far as I was concerned. I would have loved to have been with the President in much earlier days.
I think he served his country wonderfully well in things that really counted. He was brought into the presidency with a lack of preparation that he should have had, based on his relationship to Roosevelt. It took him almost those three years to know what he believed in.
Then I think what he did from '48 on was to let the subsequent years or generations know what had to be done to make this a better country to live in. I think, yes, it was frustrating. I can't point with great pride to any special thing that I was a party to, except I think we did all we could to make sense out of that scrambled mobilization effort, and to keep labor's cooperation, and not to let this be a period where industry was raking in tremendous war profits.
JOHNSON: Since we brought this up, about the war creating certain problems that certainly were not foreseen -- the budgetary problems for instance -- and being able to pay for the war. I've read that President Truman believed in "pay as we go." That is, we should raise taxes if necessary to work towards a balanced budget, or keep a balanced budget. In other words, he put apparently more emphasis on a balanced budget than did Congress, because Congress did not appropriate as
much money as he had asked them to carry on the war. Were you involved in that?
KAYLE: You're moving into the fiscal considerations that were not in my ken, really. I didn't spend time on it, and I didn't work, for example, as Murphy's team did with the Council of Economic Advisors, with Leon Keyserling, or Bert Cross, who came over later. That would be Dave Bell and Neustadt. I just know that by his nature he would have been very much concerned about huge deficits. And I must confess that if you were to ask him if we had budget deficits -- well, the Truman budgets, my goodness, they were miniscule compared to what we're spending now. I couldn't tell you what the Truman budget figure was, but it's got to be nothing compared to what we have now. It's a different world. My Budget Bureau experience was so much on the legislative side that I really didn't spend that much time in that substantive area of monetary or fiscal policies.
Second Oral History Interview with Milton P. Kayle, by Niel M. Johnson, Harry S. Truman Library, on November 10, 1982, Independence, Missouri.
KAYLE: I was thinking overnight about the beginning of our interview yesterday, and you asked me the name of my parents. The family name was Kowalsky. I was 17, and my older brother was 21. This would be 1938, just before I left high school. My brother was finishing teacher's college in Albany, New York, and he was going to be a teacher in the secondary school system in the state. It was suggested to him that he would have an easier time getting a job without a foreign sounding or Jewish name. We talked about this with our family and my uncle who was kind of like the paternalistic figure of our family, and they agreed that we had enough problems, and that if it made sense, to go ahead and do it. So on the same court order changing our name legally, my brother being 21, we had the name changed to Kayle.
I've often reflected on this, whether that would have made a big difference, or any difference,
in my subsequent career, Then I remembered the time I was in the Budget Bureau, Drew Pearson had written the first of the Washington Merry Go Round books, and in that book he had written about the criticism that there were too many Jewish people working in the Federal Government. I have a recollection that Roger [Jones] who was awfully good to me, in terms of promotions within the time limits that they were available, and very appreciative of any good effort that a person made, that he said he had been criticized for pushing me a little bit, because I was Jewish. I must say that I never encountered any trace of anti-Semitism in my White House experience, or in the time that I worked in the Executive Office per se, but I'm inclined to think that the name Kowalsky would not have been a plus in the Washington of the '48 through '53 years, in contrast to today where I think you would have no thought of the name Kowalsky being a problem. I like
to feel that way, and I think it's so, but it's an interesting point about that aspect of what many of us went through in the earlier years to "have a shot" at getting the best break you could in making your way. It wasn't a matter of my rejecting my heritage certainly. I certainly made it clear about my religion when it was appropriate. But there is Charlie Wyzanski, who is a great judge on the Federal Court, and Sol Linowitz, who was one of our Hamilton alumni, and a good friend of mine now, and they made it. So you wonder, but it's an interesting point.
JOHNSON: Of course, there was Sam Rosenman.
KAYLE: Sam Rosenman, obviously, right, It is something we went through, and we'll never know whether it was a plus or a minus, but overall I thought that observation would be of some interest.
JOHNSON: That reminds me; did you ever meet Eddie Jacobson?
KAYLE: I never did. Knew of him, of course, in terms of history, but never had any occasion to meet him.
JOHNSON: Now your mothers maiden name?
KAYLE: Was Wineburgh.
JOHNSON: And you mentioned her brother; what was his name
KAYLE: Dr. Samuel Wineburgh in Chicago. There was one brother, and there were three sisters, besides my mother.
JOHNSON: Your siblings?
KAYLE: I have one brother, and one sister, an older brother and a sister. My brother's name is Leonard Kayle and he lives in New York City. My sister who was two years my senior, Esther Harr, lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
JOHNSON: I don't know if I asked you if you did any
work on Social Security legislation.
KAYLE: No, nothing that comes to mind.
JOHNSON: Now about transition planning for Eisenhower?
KAYEE: I don't recall having any contact with the new people coming in. I do recall one incident of the transition period when we were all pretty busy following up things that had to be done and also beginning to give some concern about our own career steps. Charlie called me in one day and said that Sam Rayburn had asked the President to look into the problem involving a Colonel Awtry who was being passed over for a promotion. The circumstances were very aggravating to him. He had been in the Inspector General's Department in the Army, and apparently had been a part of a team which uncovered corruption among high officials, high Army officers, and I think it was involved in that Congressman May situation. In any event, he was convinced that he was being done an injustice by the Army system. He was not
a West point graduate; he was Regular Army, but he had served a long time and was eligible for a pension. He was a lieutenant colonel and he felt that he was entitled to his "chicken bars" before he retired; he asked if we would look into the matter.
Well, Charlie put it to me. He said, "Milt, we're all so damn busy, but if you want to look into it, and take the time to do so, I'd be happy to follow through. Here is the file." Well, I looked at it and it looked to me like this was a guy being given short shrift. I said, "I'll take the time; have him come in and see me."
He came in, and I remember he had nitroglycerine tablets which he took in my presence. He had a heart condition. He showed me his personal wealth -- I mean his holdings, bonds and stocks -- and he wanted me to understand that the economic aspect was secondary to him. He just felt that he was getting a raw deal. Looking
into the whole thing, I took some extra time and it did look to me as though an injustice was being done. So I prepared a memorandum for the President, from the President to Frank Pace. It went out and I heard about it afterwards. I think Pace called me, I knew Frank Pace from the Budget Bureau days and he wanted me to under stand that this whole matter had not been carefully looked at by him and he felt that the President was right in what he was doing, But it was interesting that the promotion went through and I had a note of thanks from Awtry but that little bit of justice was done in the midst of all the things we were worrying about.
JOHNSON: It sounded like his case certainly needed review and apparently he had been in charge of inspecting the person who graded him.
JOHNSON: In Ken Hecklers book you are in a couple
of photographs, both taken apparently about the same time in Key West, Florida. I believe that was November of...
KAYLE: '51, right.
JOHNSON: That is also a time when President Truman announced apparently to his staff that he was not going to run again for reelection. No doubt, you were there at that time.
KAYLE: I was not. That was announced the evening before we came down, so that when we arrived we were advised of it by other members of the staff.
JOHNSON: What was your reaction
KAYLE: Well, it's interesting. When I joined the White House staff just two months earlier, had a feeling that it could very well be that the president wouldn't run again, or if he ran again, he might not be successful in, terms of the obvious popularity of Ike, and the problems
that the Democratic party was having on issues which really were, you know, small potatoes in the full scheme of things. But the corruption issue was getting a big play, the "White House mess," et cetera. I suppose to some extent that was in the back of my mind when I didn't accept the first invitation to join the staff. But then I realized, or I felt, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to work for the President. Also, I had strong feelings about what he had done, after I had been in the Bureau and came to understand well what the President stood for in the other areas. I felt that if they really wanted me and if I could make some kind of contribution, great, and I would take my chances. After all, if Stevenson or whoever the candidate would be, did win, we would certainly have been in a position to stay in the Government one way or another. So it didn't come as a terribly big surprise, but what it did do was to heighten the sense of frustration we would have in terms
of trying to get anything done over the next fourteen or fifteen months.
JOHNSON: That was kept secret.
KAYLE: Well, yes, it was kept secret before the President announced it officially in March.
JOHNSON: That was an accomplishment.
KAYLE: I guess it is, considering everything,
JOHNSON: Do you have any recollections of April 1957 when President Truman fired General [Douglas] MacArthur?
KAYLE: Well at that time I would have been with the Office of Defense Mobilization,
JOHNSON: Did that come as a surprise to you?
KAYLE: No, not at all, in terms of understanding what was going on and feeling that the President had to do something like this. MacArthur was undermining his image with the public, and he was
convinced -- and absolutely right as far as I was concerned -- that we were flirting with a land war of immense proportions. No, it increased my admiration for the man. As I said, when I came down in '48 from law school I certainly voted for Harry Truman, but I wasn't too excited about him. I had a feeling that he let things get out of hand. Again, all I knew was what I read in the papers.
JOHNSON: But you felt that he was limiting the war in Korea as he should.
KAYLE: Yes. Absolutely.
JOHNSON: Did you have a feeling at the time that General MacArthur had given the president poor advice about the possibilities of mainland China, the Communist Peoples Republic coming in, in a massive way?
KAYLE: Yes, I think so to that extent. But again,
a man's not infallible. The man's ego was just so great that he couldn't possibly conform to the limitations that Truman had in mind. If you asked if there was an element in the firing due to the president wishing to reprimand him for bad advice, certainly no. Of course, as a former GI, I had impressions of MacArthur, and had heard about him from other members who had been at various echelons in the staff, and he wasn't my favorite kind of guy. But I must say, reading later about the role he played in democratizing Japan, I think that achievement is very significant in assessing the manís total contribution. Certainly, there are more pluses than negatives in terms of MacArthur.
JOHNSON: You mentioned this farewell party you attended.
JOHNSON: Do we have a date on that?
KAYLE: The actual date is in Ken Hechler's book.
JOHNSON: Was that the only time you were in the living quarters of the White House?
KAYLE: The President's guest, et cetera?
KAYLE: I would say the only other time I was in the living quarters I was with my wife. When the renovation had been completed, the President invited the staff and his or her spouses to come see the new White House layout. We did tour the entire mansion as special guests; I don't recall whether there were any kind of festivities afterwards. But otherwise I had never been in the personal end of the White House. None of my assignments had brought me to the President's living quarters.
JOHNSON: You just went directly to the West Wing?
KAYLE: Yes, the West Wing. I would be always working
in the West Wing, mostly in Murphy's office, or in the Fish Room, or in the Cabinet Room. A few times we were in the Oval Office, but not a great deal. I'd see the President more when he'd come out into the working rooms as such.
JOHNSON: The only social function that you attended in the White House was the farewell party?
KAYLE: I would think so, yes.
JOHNSON: You had about three weeks after that to wrap things up?
KAYLE: That's right. It is a little embarrassing and interesting, the difference between working on the White House staff back in our days, and the significance of that today, in the sense that most of us had a difficult time to find new employment. You had a Republican President coming in with a Republican Congress and Senate, which is the last time that has happened; think about it.
We had been there twenty years, the Democratic Party, so that finding new work was not easy. At that time Washington law practice, on the legal side, was primarily in the lobbying area though there were the administrative agencies in existence -- the FCC, the NLRB, the Federal Power Administration, et cetera. But you didn't have the proliferation of agencies you since have had in energy and environmental law, et cetera, so we didn't land quickly in terms of employment. I had a call out of the clear blue sky from a friend of mine in New York City who was in the television world, a lawyer whom I'd known from prior years, and he asked me if I would be interested in coming to New York and getting into television. They owned children's programs, such as "Howdy Doody" which was a big show, with NBC. He was getting into the production end of television, which was a very exciting field. So I had a job after canvassing everything. I had a job in the early part of December. I remember throwing
a small party in my office, and it really was embarrassing because I was the only one that had a job at that stage of the game. Charlie Murphy, for example, went out and started his own practice and there were lean times.
JOHNSON: Clark Clifford was in practice.
KAYLE: He was long since gone, oh yes.
JOHNSON: He did not hire or invite any...
KAYLE: It's interesting; I never even thought about going there. I never met Clark Clifford in those days. The file will show that Charlie wrote a couple of letters recommending us for jobs. He was concerned about trying to help us get relocated.
JOHNSON: Now who was it that hired you?
KAYLE: This was Martin Stone. The corporation was Kagran Corporation which was owned 50 percent by NBC and 50 percent by Martin. That started me in
the merchandising-licensing field, which has become one of my main concerns and my field of expertness. In merchandise licensing, I participated in quite a bit of pioneering work.
JOHNSON: You remained in that field?
KAYLE: That's pretty much it. From 1953 to '69 I was in various corporate capacities in the television and motion picture production and syndication fields and in merchandise licensing, which, for example, is the licensing of proprietary rights in the children's field, such as "Howdy Doody," to various manufacturers. The field has expanded in my time. In the Whitney Communications Corporation, which is one of the companies I was with, we ran the licensing of the New York World's Fair, and then that led to my being hired as a consultant to the Canadian Government for their Expo '67 in Montreal. That led to my working as a consultant with the State of Texas, and mostly the City of San Antonio, on Hemisphere '68, where I was
involved with John Connally in a peripheral way in terms of the problems of Texas politics.
I suppose I have achieved a reputation in that area. We did pioneering work with the major league baseball players' association, with Marvin Miller, whom I know very well, in "group rights" licensing. I'm still very active in this arena with a couple of my clients; although I'm more or less semi-retired now. In 1969 I joined this law firm as counsel, and for the last thirteen years I've been primarily in the licensing and motion picture production side with a few clients, and also some estate work.
JOHNSON: Have you had any occasion to go back to the White House since you left?
KAYLE: Yes, we had one very lovely experience. Lady Byrd Johnson, I believe, was responsible for it, but I'm sure President Johnson agreed. They invited all members of the Truman White House staff to attend an afternoon ceremony, with a
lovely reception afterwards, in connection with the dedication of the portrait of Mrs. Truman. Dean Acheson made a little speech and Margaret was there with her four children, which was interesting. They were running around like mad, and poor Margaret had to excuse herself; they were just active little children. Chief Justice Warren was there; he happened to be sitting next to Dorothy and me with his wife. He was a lovely gentleman. It was a very exciting affair and that was the time that Hubert Humphrey came in a little late at the reception. Martin Friedman, who was on the staff at the time -- there's another Jewish chap for that matter -- brought me over to Hubert whom I had met before but my wife hadn't. Dottie said, "I'm delighted to shake the hand of the next President." Oh, his eyes lit up; he hadn't announced yet, but it was obvious he was going to be a candidate. But that was a lovely thing.
There were two other occasions on which I did visit the White House. In the early 1950's the company I worked with represented Jackie Robinson, the baseball star, in some of his post-career business ventures, one of which involved a possible tie-in with a public housing project entailing U.S. Government financing. I accompanied Jackie in a meeting with Maxwell Raab, then the first person to hold the job of Secretary to the Cabinet, at that tine in Eisenhower's administration. The interesting point is that Raab's office in the Executive Office Building was the same one I had occupied in my job on the Truman staff. That visit did not lead to Jack's immediate involvement in housing, that came later, but I did run into Raab a few more times in later years. He is now our ambassador to Italy.
The other time I visited the White House occurred in the early 1970ís when I had as a client Rebekah Harkness, :the patroness of the
ballet world, who had donated to the White House in Kennedy's days the portable stage which I believe is still used there. Rebekah's dance company performed on the south lawn of the White House on some special occasion for disadvantaged children, and I accompanied her at the event. As part of the visit we were escorted into the newly decorated Oval Office, and as I recall, Nixon was out of town. I do remember my taking some delight in advising our guide who expected us to be duly impressed that I was quite familiar with the setting, having worked for President Truman.
As far as the President is concerned, I made it a practice to write him every time on his birthday, and I would get a nice little note back, where we had a few exchanges. I remember he was to receive the Freedom Award and it was to be a big affair at the Waldorf Astoria. I remember going with Dottie and having a table where John Steelman and David Stowe and a few more of the White House people were present. We went up to the dais and said a few words to the President. It may have been at that time he was
staying in New York. I remember getting a call -- I don't remember who it was -- but someone called me and asked if I'd like to come by and spend a little time with the President. He would be happy to see us all, and I went down to the Waldorf. I remember Phil Regan the singer was there, for some reason. He seemed to be friendly with Truman after he left the White House. I had tremendous interest in all that he did and my regret in retrospect was that I'd only been on the staff a year and a half. There were rumors that Murphy wanted me to join the White House staff earlier but that he understood Roger Jones would be pretty upset if he tried to preempt me too early. So, it would have been a greater experience if I had had a few more months at it.
JOHNSON: Was that the last time that you got to see the President?
KAYLE: I think so, I don't think I saw him beyond the late fifties. This happened in the 1950's. We heard from him; when he was ill, I wrote him and got a nice note back. I kept all those letters.
JOHNSON: Do you remember the Harry Dexter White case that occurred a few months after he left the Presidency?
KAYLE: No. I never got involved with that. Another thing that is interesting with regard to Charlie Murphy was that two years after we left the White House staff, he did come up to New York to help Averell Harriman run his campaign for Governor. I did come into New York City a few times and gave Charlie a hand on that, but there was nothing of great moment in my efforts in this respect.
JOHNSON: Were you much involved with politics?
KAYLE: I'll tell you; I moved to New Rochelle in 1955, and when I got there, and met some local people, they heard about my background, and asked me to join the local Democratic Committee, which I did. But I found that I was spending so much time in trying to create a career in New York, with late hours and commuting et cetera, that I really couldn't do it justice. I didn't want to lend my name to
a local operation that didn't have that much meaning for me, so I resigned. Well, there were two other times. Charlie did contact me because I told him I was interested in coming back to Washington. He did contact me in 1956 when Eisenhower had won the second time, when they wire developing the Democratic Advisory Committee, and Charlie was counsel to it. [Paul] Butler was then the Democratic National Committee Chairman. Charlie asked me if I would be interested in coming down to be his deputy. I did come down to Washington and was terribly intrigued with the idea of doing this, but it was just a matter of economics. The salary was about a third of what I was making then, and my children were still in school. I was very close to going, even though my oldest daughter had an asthma condition that was going to be aggravated more at that stage in Washington if we went back. Weighing everything, I didn't come back. It would have been a very interesting job. Charlie said it would only be for a year for sure.
So that didn't come through, but it would have been a great assignment, because if you remember, John Kennedy, Averell Harriman, Dean Acheson, Charlie Brannan, and others were all on the council as such, and I would have been working with some very great minds. But that never worked out.
After Kennedy was elected in 1960, Charlie and I had been talking over the years, and I was surprised to learn that Charlie went back as Under Secretary of Agriculture. Of course, he had worked with Lyndon Johnson in the Vice Presidential campaign. I've always had this great interest in Washington. I did get a call from Fenn, Larry Fenn, who was the "headhunter" for the Kennedy administration. I came down and they offered me the job as Deputy General Counsel in the USIA [United States Information Agency] when Ed Murrow was the head of it. I was interviewed by the chap who was the General Counsel and it just wouldn't
have been the spot for me, It should have been the other way around, really, and he almost said as much. They needed help in legislation, they really did at that time. Of course, I didn't know Murrow was that close to resigning, and Carl Rowan took over. So that didn't materialize.
I'd always let my interest in Government be known to Elmer Staats and Charlie Murphy and Roger Jones, and I had heard rumors that my name had been thrown in the hopper for the FCC as a possible' commissioner at the FCC. I was interviewed in Washington by Minnow's administrative assistant, but there was no chemistry at all between us in our one meeting, and it never got any further. That might have been an interesting assignment. I had the background in communications all those years, and I think I would have brought some pretty independent thinking to it. But I never knew early enough my name was in the hopper to try to marshal some support. Whether or not it would have happened I don't know. I think Lee
Lovinger got the appointment. I would have liked that, but...
JOHNSON: In earlier, off-tape conversation, you made some comparisons with the White House staff as compared to later administrations and particularly the Nixon administration. I don't know that we developed that, or pursued it as far as we could. You were paying rather close attention of course to what was going on in the White House in the early seventies and the Watergate situation. Would you comment on the contrast?
KAYLE: You know, what triggered it all for me was the testimony of this fellow Strachan at the Watergate hearings. He was a bright young lawyer apparently, and he had a very interesting career up to that point. He was on the White House staff. Senator Montoya asked him what he would tell young people about coming to Washington, and he said, "I'd tell them to stay away," and he did this with tears in
his eyes. It was a very poignant moment and I remember being very much taken with that and saying, "How awful; there but for the grace of God maybe went I when I at a fairly tender age had gone into Government," I hope I would have had the values and the sense of what was proper not to have gotten into that morass. Be that as it may, it caused me to reflect on the people I was associated with in the White House and in the whole Executive Branch effort. There wasn't the slightest question about the propriety of what we did or the standards we followed. I remember the Budget Bureau even enjoined us from going out to dinner or lunch with people, the Bureau being an especially sensitive agency in teams of its impact on legislation. There was a deep sense of ethical propriety that went with the territory, so I had no problems of that nature whatsoever.
I always had, and still have, a strong feeling about the role o£ the public servant, the
role that he can play in making a difference if he's the right man in the right spot. I think when you get to the top policymaking positions, it's probably best not to need the job. The way to go back to Government is to go back with independence, financially, so that if you donít see things are going the way you really believe in, you are free to leave. When you need the job, that's sometimes unfortunate. Professional people like Elmer Staats and Roger Jones, whom I admire greatly and I'm sure their types are repeated through all structures in Government, were an inspiration to me. I still feel that this is the goal we have to keep ahead of us, to get the right caliber of people in public service, those appointed as well as those elected.
JOHNSON: You were involved in the '52 campaign, of course.
KAYLE: Very much so.
JOHNSON: Were there any intimations that they should try any dirty tricks?
KAYLE: You obviously make the most of whatever statements the opposition has made in the past that help your case, and you milk that particular idea to the nth degree, but nothing in the way of going out and creating pejorative material, or pulling anything of that nature. I think we would be aghast at it. It was just beyond our ken in terms of what would make sense; it would demean the whole political process. At least I never ran across it, never.
JOHNSON: Was it understood at that time you could use strong rhetoric and some rather harsh labels even about the opposition, but it was all in the open?
JOHNSON: That never should there be any undercover...
KAYLE: Nothing of that nature at all. I mean what's
happened is there's been such inroads over the years that unfortunately it begins to be accepted. It's begun to be accepted as part of the gate, and that itself is ridiculous. I mean, to let that underlying feeling even exist. We've got to create a much different attitude. It's not to be accepted.
JOHNSON: Did you research the opposition, the Republican record, in 1952?
KAYLE: In terms of their background and things? I didn't get into that kind of study. I think we would have looked to Ken Hechler and his operation or maybe to the Democratic National Committee. What is interesting -- this is an aside with Nixon -- when I was in that internship program that I told you about, in 1943, I moonlighted. We were allowed to do that. This was before I was assigned to an agency, CAA and then War Labor Board. I picked up a little extra money working at nights for a
Congressman from California by the name of Jerry Voorhis. My job was to collate the questionnaires that he had sent out, even in those days, asking his constituents about twenty questions on key issues. Now this is the man that Nixon in a contest for Voorhis' seat in 1946 accused of being a Communist; Jerry Voorhis was no more a Communist than the man in the moon. So I had had an early experience with Richard Nixon then. I mean, I could carry it through in terms of what one would expect from a man who had conducted himself that way. The irony of it is that this district in Orange County was going conservative anyhow. Nixon would have beaten him without the need for that whole approach.
JOHNSON: Sounds like '72.
KAYEE: Well, that's the bottom line; that's absolutely true. I mean the man was in a certain groove. I had encountered it early in my day and even in the days when we were at the Budget Bureau;
Nixon was not our favorite guy. But listen, that's history; that's his way of doing things.
JOHNSON: If there is nothing else that comes to mind right now, we'll conclude, and I want to thank you very much for all this information.
KAYLE: I've enjoyed it very much. If there's anything that I've been able to contribute in a helpful way, I'm pleased to have done so.
JOHNSON: I'm sure you have.