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Oral history interview with Debbs Potts

This oral history interview with Debbs Potts was conducted by James Strassmaier in a Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass, Oregon, and at an ExecuLodge in Salem, Oregon, from April 15, 1991, to May 28, 1991. In the interview, Potts discusses his family background and early life in Eastern Oregon, including his family's religious life, his education in one-room schools, and working various jobs as a young teenager. He also talks about the sawmill business, including owning and operating various sawmills. He then discusses his marriage to Bobbye Irene Michael, including their attempts to adopt children. Potts talks about his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including his training and life on a ship. He also discusses his time as mayor of Grants Pass from 1958 to 1960.

Potts then discusses serving in the state Senate from 1961 to 1984. He talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party; several prominent Democrats, including Harry Boivin and Jason Boe; and his early committee assignments, particularly the Ways and Means Committee. He discusses his campaigns, legislative procedure, and interpersonal politics. He also talks about legislation that came up during his tenure, including on taxes, reapportionment, and education. He discusses working with other legislators, including Monte Montgomery, Ben Musa, Lynn Newbry, and Ed Fadeley. Potts talks about serving as president of the Senate from 1967 to 1970, including the process of getting elected to that position, having Cecil Edwards as his secretary, and the duties of the president. He also discusses working with different governors' administrations, the Senate presidency of Jason Boe, and partisan politics. Potts talks briefly about his faith and his adopted children. He closes the interview with a discussion on his activities after serving in the Legislature, including running the Oregon Lottery.

Potts, Debbs (Eugene Debbs), 1908-2003

Oral history interview with Harry D. Boivin

This oral history interview with Harry Boivin was conducted by Clark Hansen in Boivin's office in Medford, Oregon, from July 25, 1991, to June 6, 1992. In this interview, Boivin discusses his family history and early life in Klamath Falls, Oregon, as well as his education at Santa Clara University in California. He then discusses getting started in his law career, including working for the district attorney in Dorris, California, and then working with Claude McColloch in Klamath Falls.

Boivin then talks about serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1935 to 1942, including serving as speaker of the House in 1937. He discusses partisan politics and coalition building; the old Capitol building and conditions after it burned down in 1937; his support of the New Deal; and his time as speaker. He discusses some of the legislators he worked with in the House, including Grace Peck. He also talks briefly about his activities after leaving the House, including trying to enlist during World War II, as well as serving on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Board of Education.

Boivin goes on to discuss serving in the Oregon Senate from 1955 to 1972, including as Senate president from 1961 to 1966. Some of the issues he discusses include reapportionment, logging and forestry, taxation, and agriculture. He also talks about campaigning, committee assignments, and the duties of the Senate president. Boivin talks often about the Oregon Institute of Technology and his role in its formation. He also discusses his working relationship with the many governors that served during his political career. He discusses his fellow senators, including Monte Montgomery, Al Ullman, Wayne Morse, and Debbs Potts.

He closes the interview by discussing the changes in the Democratic and Republican parties, and politics in general, over the second half of the 20th century.

Boivin, Harry D. (Harry Dolan), 1904-1999

Oral history interview with William L. Dickson

This oral history interview with William L. Dickson was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Dickson's apartment in San Diego, California, from September 25-26, 1991. In this interview, Dickson discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon, including contracting polio while in high school and his early interest in politics, including his admiration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fellow polio survivor. He then discusses attending Northwestern Law School and many of his professors; clerking at the probate court in Portland; his family's religious faith; and getting started in a law practice in Portland. He talks about his experience as a debt collector during the Depression; his first run for the Oregon Legislature in 1930; and meeting his wife, Dorothy Adelaide Unk, in 1931.

Dickson goes on to discuss his time in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1933 to 1936, and in the Oregon Senate from 1937 to 1939, including his desire to help people burdened by debt; coordinating with his uncle, Ashby Dickson, to pass a constitutional amendment making judges nonpartisan positions; and legislation he worked on, particularly on the probate and guardianship code. He also talks about the role of lobbyists; the pay scale for legislators; and many of the legislators he served with, including Nan Wood Honeyman, Monroe Sweetland, and Frank Lonergan. He discusses his involvement with the Democratic Party; the impact of the Depression on his politics and career; and New Deal legislation.

Dickson then discusses his career after leaving the Legislature. He talks about working for the federal Department of Justice during World War II, particularly his work on cases involving land condemnation for military use, and arguing before Judge James Alger Fee. He then talks about serving as a judge on the Circuit Court of Multnomah County from 1954 to 1973. He discusses cases involving mental health and guardianship. He then talks about the lives and careers of his children. Dickson closes the interview with a discussion of national politics in the 1990s.

Dickson, William L. (William Lucas), 1907-2002

Oral history interview with Bill Hedlund

  • SR 1113
  • Collection
  • 1988-06-19

This oral history interview with Bill Hedlund was conducted by Richard McConnell on June 19, 1988. An unidentified woman was also present. In this interview, Hedlund discusses his experience in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1941 to 1942, and his experiences as a lobbyist. He discusses legislators and lobbyists he worked with, rules regarding lobbying activities, his involvement with the Democratic Party, and governors he served under while in the Legislature. He then looks at photographs and discusses them, his family history, and his early life in Portland. He discusses how he got interested in politics after he graduated from law school in 1935, and his jobs before running for the Legislature in 1940, including working for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Hedlund, Bill (William Hancock), 1910-1994

Oral history interview with Betty Roberts

This oral history interview of Betty Roberts was conducted by Clark Hansen from March 24, 1992, to September 19, 1994, at Roberts' home in Portland, Oregon. In the interview, Roberts describes her early life and family background, including growing up in Texas during the Depression and her father's alcohol poisoning. She also discusses meeting her first husband, John Willard "Bill" Rice, as well as their marriage and starting a family in Oregon. Roberts discusses attending Portland State College and the strain it put on her marriage to Rice; discrimination she encountered as an older woman student; and pursuing a master's degree at the University of Oregon. She also talks about her divorce from Rice due to his objection to her working outside the home, the divorce's effect on her children, and her subsequent marriage to Frank L. Roberts. She also discusses her divorce from Frank Roberts in 1965.

Roberts discusses her career as an educator, including teaching at high schools in East Portland; serving on school boards; and her activity in the Oregon Education Association. She talks about meeting her third husband, Keith Skelton; civil liberties; her involvement in the Democratic Party; and practicing law. She then talks about her experiences in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1965 to 1968, including campaigning, sexist media coverage, and teaching high school and attending law school at Northwestern College of Law while in the Legislature. Roberts discusses legislation she worked on during her time in the House, primarily on education, including sick leave for teachers and universal kindergarten.

Roberts also discusses her 1968 campaign for the Oregon Senate against Tom Mahoney, as well as the 1968 presidential campaign, including the debate around the Vietnam War and her attendance at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, with U.S. Senator Wayne Morse. She then discusses her experience in the Oregon Senate from 1969 to 1977, including legislation on taxes, particularly sales taxes; women's rights; abortion; environmental issues; rape shield laws; and child custody. She discusses working with Debbs Potts, John D. Burns, and Gracie Peck, and and talks about running for governor against Bob Straub in 1974. She also discusses her run for the U.S. Senate against Bob Packwood the same year. She talks about the various forms of sexism she encountered while in the Senate, the formation of the Women's Caucus in 1973, and support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Roberts talks about her time as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals from 1977 to 1982, and about working alongside judges Herbert Schwabe and W. Michael Gillette. She describes being appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Governor Vic Atiyeh and the encouragement she received from Norma Paulus. She discusses several cases from the years 1982 to 1986, including cases regarding sex discrimination and misuse of taxpayer monies. She also talks about her law clerk, Maureen Leonard, and about working alongside judges Jacob Tanzer and Mercedes Deiz. Roberts relates her opinion on the efficacy and procedures of the judicial system in Oregon. She discusses her activities after resigning from the court, including her involvement with Oregon Women Lawyers and the Bob Packwood sexual harassment scandal.

Roberts, Betty, 1923-2011

Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland

This oral history interview with Monroe Mark Sweetland was conducted by Richard Harmon from November 16, 1984, to October 26, 1987, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon. In this interview, Sweetland discusses his family background and early life, including his childhood in rural Michigan; his early involvement in Democratic politics; and his experiences at Wittenberg University and Cornell University. He discusses his political activism during college, including his involvement with the Student League for Industrial Democracy and his political activism on behalf of Socialist candidates. Sweetland also discusses his political activities after his return to Oregon in 1935, including his work with the Oregon Commonwealth Federation and his decision to leave the Socialist Party and join the Democratic Party. Also discussed is his work with labor unions; the New Deal programs; and his work with the Oregon Democratic Party. He briefly talks about World War II and its effect on Oregon politics, particularly the effect the Hitler-Stalin pact had on American communists and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation; internment of Japanese-Americans; and his own pacifism. Sweetland goes on to talk about his involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon after the war as national committeeman; the factions within the party; and mobilizing women and black voters. He also discusses his ownership of several Oregon newspapers (the Molalla Pioneer, the Newport News, and the Milwaukie Review) and about running them with the help of his wife, Lillie Sweetland. In addition, he describes his experiences as a legislator in the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate during the 1950s and early 1960s. Topics include: education; attempts to pass a sales tax; campaign finance; and Wayne Morse's switch to the Democratic Party. He also discusses working closely with Howard Morgan, the national chairman of the Democratic Party; U.S. Senator Dick Neuberger; and U.S. Representative Edith Green. Sweetland talks about his relationship with Mark Hatfield and running for secretary of state against him in 1956; the 1962 presidential election and his support of John F. Kennedy; and his campaign for secretary of state in 1964. Finally, he discusses his activities after leaving the Legislature, including his interest in Indonesia and continued advocacy for education as a lobbyist for the National Education Association.

Sweetland, Monroe, 1910-2006

Oral history interview with Don Clark

  • SR 1166
  • Collection
  • 1994 August 30 - 1998 March 27

Clark discusses family heritage, education, and career beginnings in the criminal justice system; experiences as Multnomah County sheriff; campaign for the Multnomah County Commission; modernization of county government in Oregon; Mt. Hood freeway and regional transportation planning, Burnside Consortium, Columbia Villa, single-payer health care, and numerous other subjects of policy and politics of city and county in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

Clark, Donald Edward, 1933-

Oral history interview with Vern Cook

This oral history interview with Robert Vernon "Vern" Cook was conducted by Clark Hansen at Cook's law office in Gresham, Oregon, and Cook's home in Troutdale, Oregon, from December 15, 1994, to October 15, 1995. In the interview, Cook discusses his family background and early life during the Depression in Las Animas, Colorado, and in Gresham. He also describes being a young man during World War II; being denied enlistment in the Navy due to polio; and his rehabilitation from polio. Cook discusses studying political science at Reed College and law at the University of Oregon, all while working concessions at various businesses in California with his brother. He talks about practicing law in Gresham; his involvement with the Democratic Party; and his first campaign for the Oregon House of Representatives in 1956. Cook discusses the legislation he worked on while serving in the House, including taxation, education, and worker's compensation. He also talks about serving on the judicial committee and related issues. He discusses some of the legislators he worked with, including Pat Dooley and Monroe Sweetland, as well as Governor Mark Hatfield.

Cook then describes his experience in the Oregon Senate, including serving on the judiciary committee and legislation on taxation, particularly sales taxes, as well as health insurance, education, land use, agriculture, domestic violence, and labor. He also talks about working with senators Tom Mahoney, Edith Green, Walter Pearson, Debbs Potts, Monte Montgomery, Alice Corbett, Ted Hallock, Jason Boe, and Vic Atiyeh. Cook also discusses party politics and its influence on the effectiveness of the Legislature during his tenure; the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and working with Governor Tom McCall and Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt. He also talks about his unsuccessful campaigns for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate; his involvement in Frank Church's campaign in the Democratic presidential primary in 1976; and the financial difficulties he faced as a legislator. He closes the interview by discussing his career as a lawyer since leaving the Legislature in 1980.

Cook, Vern (Robert Vernon), 1925-2008