Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Author: Kytle, Calvin, interviewee
Interview conducted by Egerton, John
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 136 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-11, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Calvin Kytle, January 19, 1991. Interview A-0365. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0365)
Author: John Egerton
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Calvin Kytle, January 19, 1991. Interview A-0365. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0365)
Author: Calvin Kytle
Description: 144 Mb
Description: 40 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 19, 1991, by John Egerton; recorded in Cabin John, Maryland.
Note: Transcribed by Jackie Gorman.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with Calvin Kytle, January 19, 1991.
Interview A-0365. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Kytle, Calvin, interviewee


Interview Participants

    CALVIN KYTLE, interviewee
    ELIZABETH KYTLE, interviewee
    JOHN EGERTON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CALVIN KYTLE:
. . . the man who ran the Warm Springs Inn at the time when Roosevelt was in power. Frank used to tell me a little bit about Roosevelt and some of his father's experiences. His father, as a matter of fact, became fairly close to Roosevelt later on just before Roosevelt died.
I started playing around with the idea of, why did Frank come to Atlanta? And I tried to make a little mystery out of it. With my own mind I said the reason he was dispatched to Atlanta to live with his aunt and uncle was that his father was concerned that he was going to get exposed to the Lucy Mercer affair. As it turns out historically I was wrong because Lucy Mercer really didn't get to Warm Springs until sometime after this, so the whole idea went out [laughter] . . .
From that point on I started developing a really quite complicated plot. I hadn't really lost sight of the Warm Springs idea and so I began to read an awful lot about Roosevelt.
Are you familiar with Kenneth Davis?
JOHN EGERTON:
No.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He's done three books on Roosevelt and to my mind they are by all means the best.
JOHN EGERTON:
Is that right?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes. The biography which came out about two years ago goes through the New Deal period. He has one, I think, that deals with Roosevelt's childhood and takes him up through his

Page 2
career with the Navy as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Then he has another volume that deals with governorship of New York. The one I just finished reading deals with the New Deal period. I'm sure he has one more.
In volume three—at least you might want to dip in the index—he deals quite a lot with the Roosevelts' coming to warm Springs and the South, what being in warm Springs and being exposed to the South for the first time meant to him. I think that he talks about how Eleanor Roosevelt had one reaction and Franklin had quite another. Eleanor was so appalled at what she saw in white and black relations in Warm Springs. She pondered it and she really didn't want to go to Warm Springs. She wouldn't visit there.
JOHN EGERTON:
She didn't go all that much, did she?
CALVIN KYTLE:
No, she didn't. He was many times down there by himself. She was with him, of course, when he bought Warm Springs and during the early times.
JOHN EGERTON:
What's the biographer's name?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Kenneth C. Davis.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'll take a look at that.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I'm not too sure about this, but I think it was because of that exposure that Roosevelt commissioned that study on the South.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, I've got a fairly elaborate version of how that originated.
CALVIN KYTLE:
How did it originate?

Page 3
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, the best account that I can find is that it originated with some people like Joseph Gelders of Birmingham and Aubrey Williams and others who had Eleanor's ear and who got her interested in it. She's essentially the one who persuaded him.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Maybe she was more receptive having them down there. I don't know, but it would be worth exploring.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, it's worth looking at some more.
CALVIN KYTLE:
You know, the curious thing is that Warm Springs had originally been called Bullocksville and Bullock was a man who, I think, was Eleanor Roosevelt's great-grandfather.
JOHN EGERTON:
There is a real strong connection of FDR to Harlan County, Kentucky, in the mountains of Appalachia.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I didn't know that.
JOHN EGERTON:
Going back to some early days some of the Delanos' owned a big chunk of mineral rights in eastern Kentucky. That's a fascinating story, they owned a big chunk of Harlan County all the way up until recent years.
JOHN EGERTON:
You've obviously had an interest in all of this for a very long time. Were you born in Atlanta?
CALVIN KYTLE:
No, I was born in Columbia, South Carolina. My father was a travelling salesman and we moved from there when I was about six. I lived five years in North Carolina. I came to Atlanta when I was eleven.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you stay there pretty much?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I stayed there until I went into the Army in 1941. I was there almost ten years. I came back and was teaching at Emory. When I came back Elizabeth and I got married and we

Page 4
stayed there about two and a half years and then we moved to Ohio in 1949.
JOHN EGERTON:
How long were you gone? Did you ever go back?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Never for any length of time.
JOHN EGERTON:
You never went back to live after '49?
CALVIN KYTLE:
No.
JOHN EGERTON:
What year were you born?
CALVIN KYTLE:
1920.
JOHN EGERTON:
So, when the War broke out you were twenty-one years old. Had you been to college at that point?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I had finished Emory.
JOHN EGERTON:
You had just finished Emory?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Finished Emory in June of '41.
JOHN EGERTON:
Where is Elizabeth from?
CALVIN KYTLE:
She's from Charleston.
JOHN EGERTON:
When did you first meet her?
CALVIN KYTLE:
We met in the summer of '41 because I went to work for the National Youth Administration and she was there having come up from valdosta. She was director of a materials bureau in Atlanta.
The National Youth Administration in Georgia at the time I joined it was run by Boisfeuillet Jones. Have you heard of Boisfeuillet Jones?
JOHN EGERTON:
I don't know anything about him but I have heard of his name.

Page 5
CALVIN KYTLE:
He was an interesting character. John A. and he had a terribly unhappy experience together. I have always sided with John A.
Boisfeuillet and John A. were together at Emory as assistants to Goodrich White who was then president. Boisfeuillet's son in now general council to the Washington Post.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
His first name is John but when he went to the first grade he told his teacher his name was Boisfeuillet, which it wasn't. He didn't want to be called John Jones. He has been Boisfeuillet ever since then.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He's one of those quiet, scheming, political—you have a feeling there is something very tight inside Boisfeuillet. He's very ambitious, and very bright. Unfortunately, he had a lot of ambitions that never were realized including being Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and also being president of Emory. He ended up being Bob Woodruff's number one assistant.
The only reason I bring this up is because of your friendship with John A. Boisfeuillet, in his own kind of sinister way, somehow either turned, I don't think he had to really turn Goodrich White against John A. because John A. is too superior a person for anybody to be turned against, but he somehow convinced Goodrich White that John A. would not really be an effective administrator and as a consequence Boisfeuillet went up in the administration and John A. just stayed where he was. That's why John A. left Emory.

Page 6
When I went to NYA Boisfeuillet was running it. It really was a very unusual agency at that time. It had benefited from Mrs. Roosevelt's blessing and Aubrey williams was running it, had run it.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was he at that time running it?
CALVIN KYTLE:
No.
JOHN EGERTON:
He had already gone back to Montgomery?
CALVIN KYTLE:
To think of it, I think he was.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was he in '41?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
He was still there and it was about '45 that he went back.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He was still there and there were an awful lot of very interesting people. It was a great experience for us. That's how we met.
JOHN EGERTON:
What was the make-up of NYA from a racial perspective? Was everything segregated straight across? was there a Negro division of NYA? Was there much cross-fertilization between the two?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes, there were separate sections.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Tell John about your experience with Moss Kendrick.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
There are two things that I remember and one was that Mr. Shell was head of the Negro division—that was the polite word then—and there was one person in the state office who would not call him Mr. Shell and that was Chelsey Barker from Texas who was in charge of the shop program for the whole thing. He always addressed him as Shell. He just would not say Mr. Shell.

Page 7
The other thing I remember is that Moss Kendrick, who was some kind of syndicated news. . . . where is he now?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I don't know what he's doing now. He ended up as being the information officer for Liberia.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, anyhow, there was a book he wanted and he was not allowed in the Carnegie Library. He came in the office one day and asked me if I could get him a book from the library. That just bowled me over. I did it and I had to check it out in my name and pass it to him and he brought it back to me and I returned it. That was what it was like.
JOHN EGERTON:
You were in the service. When did you come out?
CALVIN KYTLE:
About December of '45.
JOHN EGERTON:
Elizabeth, were you in Atlanta when the war was over?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes, I had left Josephine wilkins and gone because I had found out that with the new tax raise I would have five dollars left over after I paid my board and keep. I went out to work at the Marietta at the Bell Bomber Plant in the public relations office.
JOHN EGERTON:
What do you mean you left Josephine wilkins?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, I worked with her at the Citizens Fact Finding Movement after the NYA and I left the NYA after I told Boisfeuillet Jones a monkey could do my job, and Calvin and Jack Tarver said, "you better go look for work." So, I went to work for Josephine whom I'm sure you know about.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, I do. I don't know much though about the Citizens Fact Finding Movement. Who started it?

Page 8
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, it was a wonderful thing that she invented and ran. It was a social-educational thing, I guess. She published pamphlets on all kinds of phases of Georgia, the penal system, the educational system, the tax system.
JOHN EGERTON:
This was just all on her own?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
No, she got together the heads of all the civic organizations in the state. She was really the moving spirit and she did it, but it was the heads of all the civic organizations over Georgia.
Each one of these pamphlets was done by an authority in his field. Ellis Arnall said that he used those things as a basis for Georgia's new constitution. They were used for that purpose.
She did a remarkable thing because nobody ever had a dime. Just never worked for anything until the bomber plant. Very worthy but poverty-ridden organizations including the Georgia State Women's College. I worked there after I finished in Valdosta . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you happen to remember the day the War ended? Any personal recollection of that day?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I remember when it started.
JOHN EGERTON:
It was August 14, 1945.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
No, I don't. What I remember is the day the atom bomb was dropped.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, that was about the eighth, I think.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
The public relations office was the first thing that was done away with because the War was over. I worked for six more months for Davis and Paxton doing a little teeny house organ

Page 9
thing. That was where I was working when Calvin came back in December of '45.
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you all have any particular reflections on Ellis Arnall's tenure as governor? I'm struck by the curious contrast of his national persona, primarily because of pieces under his byline in Collier's and Look and Saturday Review and different magazines and his reputation as the young liberal governor of Georgia and sort of the beacon of the future and his Georgia perspective which was somewhat more conservative than that. And yet, even so, compared to the Talmadges he must have seemed like a flaming liberal.
Does he hold up for you? Does history treat him pretty well, do you think, as a man who tried to lead Georgia into a new age?
CALVIN KYTLE:
John, I really don't know the answer to that because I was overseas the whole time he was governor so my impression of Ellis Arnall began with the kind of magazine articles that you were talking about. Incidentally, you might want to talk with Jamie Mackey if you haven't already. Jamie would have a much clearer idea about Ellis Arnall than [unclear] .
My impression is that after the Arnall-Talmadge business in 1948, Arnall was very bruised. So, he went to Newnan, Georgia, as the head of some insurance company. Dixie Insurance Company or something of this sort. He almost retired from politics but then when he started speaking again he spoke as a conservative—from our perspective a rather radical change. He was supposed to have turned around again. Is he dead now?

Page 10
JOHN EGERTON:
No, I talked to him not long ago. He's living in a nursing home, Wesley Woods.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Oh, yes, in Atlanta.
JOHN EGERTON:
He had a stroke and physically he's pretty badly impaired but mentally he is in decent shape.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That's terrible to have that combination.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, he seemed in pretty good spirits.
CALVIN KYTLE:
My recollection is that at some critical point in his career and in Georgian history there was a resurgence of the kind of sensibility that he had expressed before. I can't recall what that was but Jamie can recall it.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
You know, when you and Jamie did that thing he said to Jamie, "I'm riding this liberal horse right now." That shocked us.
JOHN EGERTON:
That's sort of the question I'm asking. Was he deliberately trying to ride a liberal horse?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Those were his words to Jamie and they just shocked us. We were naive, I guess.
CALVIN KYTLE:
John, I meant to ask you if this would be any help to you. Jamie and I had Rosenwald grants to study politics of Georgia. We did a report—it was never published—but it has the reputation of being the most famous unpublished report of Georgia politics because the Talmadge people stole it. [laughter]
JOHN EGERTON:
Under whose auspices did you write it?
CALVIN KYTLE:
It was under Rosenwald but the project was actually administered by a very interesting group that George Mitchell, the Southern Regional Council, and Josephine . . .

Page 11
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Rosenwald gave him the money but it was under their auspices.
JOHN EGERTON:
It was SRC auspices?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Not technically.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Secretly.
JOHN EGERTON:
Secretly.
CALVIN KYTLE:
To the extent that anybody was concerned about whether it was an official project with the Southern Regional Council or not, it was not on the record as an official project of the Southern Regional Council.
Jamie and I reported to a little team of liberals in Atlanta consisting of Josephine Wilkins, Grace Hamilton, and Alex Miller who was then running the Anti-Defamation League, George Mitchell and A. T. Walden.
JOHN EGERTON:
That was just a little informal group?
CALVIN KYTLE:
That's right, that's right.
JOHN EGERTON:
Always those five?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I can't recall if there were any more. There may have been. Oh, Mrs. Tilly was in that group, Grace [Dorothy] Tilly.
Jamie and I always thought that George Mitchell was the person we were accountable to.
JOHN EGERTON:
What year would this have been?
CALVIN KYTLE:
1947.
JOHN EGERTON:
Before the election.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
Before that '48 election. I saw the piece you wrote for Harper's in '48.

Page 12
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes and that was based on that report. If you would like and I think I can find for you a copy of the report. It includes interviews with all kinds of people including Ellis Arnall and Ralph McGill and Roy Harris and all that group. You may find this of some interest. I wouldn't suggest you read it all but you might want to dip into it.
JOHN EGERTON:
I've made note of the fact that you've got it and at some point I may want to call you and see if I can borrow it.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Sure. Give me a week, I can't find anything in less than a week.
JOHN EGERTON:
Then, as far as Arnall is concerned to the point of this premise that I suggested to you at the beginning, however much that period of time may appear now as a kind of a window of opportunity for liberals in the South to make reforms happen, it must not have seemed very much like that then. Reading your piece, that's a fairly pessimistic piece, it reads that way now. I don't think you intended it that way then. I thought, perhaps, it was more like a straw of hope that maybe a second party might come together, a coalition of labor, and blacks and urban middle-class whites. You really didn't hold out any false hope that that was something about to happen.
CALVIN KYTLE:
No, I didn't. I don't recall what my mood at the time was, but I think all of us were just terribly disappointed with the events that occurred after Gene Talmadge's death.
One of the things I have always thought, one of the things that impressed me during that period, was the real value of leadership and how much Georgia could change under the guise of,

Page 13
with different leadership. There was, I think, a feeling of hope under Arnall and feeling that things were being reformed and there was going to be this kind revolution perhaps that you were talking about.
Then when Talmadge comes in and starts appealing to the lowest values, the cheapest values in the state, the whole mood of the state changed. The whole conform movement stopped, I mean, these were the same people who had supported Arnall but now under Talmadge they were entirely different.
I think leadership is terribly important. I also think that if there had been anybody other than M. [unclear] Thompson in the picture in 1948 in opposition to Talmadge it might have been a somewhat different picture. Thompson really provided a very weak form of leadership, don't you think?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, you know they call him, "me too."
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, "me too, Thompson." He certainly didn't come across as a very strong person.
Did you know a man by the name of Dewitt Roberts? Did you know Dewitt?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you think it's possible he could have written The Shore Dimly Seen?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I know he did.
JOHN EGERTON:
He wrote it?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I'm pretty sure he did.
JOHN EGERTON:
I had been told that he did.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He would tell you he did.

Page 14
JOHN EGERTON:
He's dead, though.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I know, but I think he told me that he did.
JOHN EGERTON:
This makes me think he must have been an interesting character. That's a well-written book. I don't know if you have read it in recent years, but it says more even than I think Arnall would have wanted it to say and it says it so gracefully. It's really quite skillfully written. You can go back now and read this man's thinking between the lines and he got in a few licks that didn't get caught by the more conservative.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I know that Jamie and I interviewed Dewitt Roberts and it may be that I have a report of that and it would be in this material.
Roberts impressed me at the time as being a brilliant eccentric. Incidentally, this was something that dismayed me a great deal during that whole experience because here you had a man who really wrote, as you said, very well. He had an awful lot of good ideas and was in a sense liberal in a lot of ways, but was absolutely retarded on the subject of race. You just couldn't break through that. When we talked with him he was almost cynical about . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
That was the word I was going to use. His cynicism shows through in there in a way. I may be reading more into it than is warranted but it stopped me. When I was reading the book I thought this could not have been written by a sitting governor in the last year of his term. He wouldn't have had time to do that and maybe not the skill.

Page 15
CALVIN KYTLE:
Well, see, Roberts was responsible for most of his speeches, too. I think he had great influence on Arnall.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was he a former newspaperman in Atlanta?
CALVIN KYTLE:
He was a former newspaperman. I don't recall that he worked in Atlanta, did he?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I don't remember.
JOHN EGERTON:
Talking about leadership, just think about this for a minute. In Arkansas, in Tennessee, in Florida, in Alabama and maybe one or two other places in the South right after the war there emerged these new-wave politicians. I wouldn't call them new South politicians, but they were definitely different from what had been there before. What characterized the difference more than anything else was their willingness to thumb their noses at the machine politics that had run state governments since forever.
In Arkansas it was a guy named Sid McMath. He was a war hero and he was a pragmatic man who had no patience with all that hierarchical kind of feudal stuff. He had been fighting the war for democracy and he came home and he wanted some damn democracy. He wanted it right now, he was impatient. He ended up being pretty consistently liberal even on racial stuff, right on through. He came in the middle between—I can't remember exactly now how this worked—but Ben Laney was the governor right after him and may have been the governor just before him, too. Ben Laney was one of the Dixiecrats. So, you have this sort of roller coaster thing.

Page 16
Then you had Jim Folsom come into office in Alabama and nobody knew quite what to do with Folsom, but he definitely was not your garden-variety racist demagogue. Even Earl Long in Louisiana who was, I think, inaugurated about that same time had his inauguration party in the football stadium at LSU and served corn bread and buttermilk. It was this kind of populous explosion and yet there was Herman Talmadge, and Strom Thurmond, a couple of War heroes. They came from the same War, the same darn experience and they came back and they couldn't have been more reactionary and more backward focused.
What is it? Is it just personality? Or is it just the luck of the draw or is there something deeper working here that retarded leadership at this crucial time? Do you have any insight on what that was?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Well, anything I might say here I'm sure will sound like a cliche. I think the fact of the matter, as we all know, is that the South or the southern culture was probably the cause of slavery and the whole experience with race. You tend to see an expression of the kind of dualism that is in society and in the personality. You can call it good or evil or anything you like, but I think people are a mixtures of good and bad. They have good impulses and bad desires and they get scared and all mixed up. What happens, I think, is that some politicians will come along who will sense a kind of predominant fear of feeling. It can be a fear of a loss of a job or fear of loss of property or whatever and will capitalize on that.
JOHN EGERTON:
Or hope.

Page 17
CALVIN KYTLE:
They will capitalize on that. It sort of goes back and forth. I think, the best I can tell, is sometimes that fear and hope will be at the same time and depending upon the politician who comes along and appeals to which you have a stronger political.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Personality does form to personality or character They told us in Psychology 101, the same thing couldn't have happened to any two people.
JOHN EGERTON:
Then you end up having to say that we were rather unlucky in the batch of leaders we were delivered in that crucial time because with some better people we might have ended doing what we ended up doing anyway only we spent a quarter of a century and a lot of pain, agony and bloodshed to get there.
Let's get out of politics for a minute and think about some other aspects of leadership, the press, for example. It seems to me that some of the southern newspapers of the 30s and even the War years were more progressive or at least enlightened with respect to social issues than they ended up being in the late 40s and early 50s when the heat got turned up under all this.
In Virginia, for example, Virginius Dabney at the Times Dispatch wrote a book in 1932 called Liberalism in the South. Through the 30s he was very fond of saying what a friend he was of the Negro and yet by the time the Brown decision came along he had pretty much joined the reaction.
Whereas McGill on the other hand had begun at a much more conservative point and pretty much stayed there, it seems to me, through the 40s and all the way up to Brown. He was certainly no

Page 18
Talmadge as far as his conservatism went, but he was not leading any kind of liberal charge, was he, through the post war years? Where do you see him in your mind's eye having been in '47, '48, '49?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Do you want to speak, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
All I remember about that is that we always thought he was pretty nifty, but whenever you complained about something he did or didn't do somebody would say to him, "well, you know you can't get too far ahead of the people you're trying to influence." That's all I remember.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I worked at The Constitution part-time, which meant that I was paid by voucher. That's an interesting point because there would be on occasion when I would work a full week and therefore get paid equivalent to a week's salary. That would amount to $18.00 a week by voucher. This caused quite a bit of tension in the city room because the graduates of the University of Georgia were working there full-time and getting paid only $17.50. They made quite an issue of the fact that Calvin was getting $18.00 a week and he is not even out of school. [laughter]
JOHN EGERTON:
This was in when? About '40?
CALVIN KYTLE:
No, it was before that. It was when I was still at Emory. I went to Emory in '37 and '38 and it was during that period. When I was there at the beginning McGill was on the sport's desk and I think the thing that we always remembered about McGill—those of us who knew him—was that here was a guy who left the sport's desk, got a Rosenwald Grant, went to

Page 19
Scandinavia, came back, went back to the sport's desk—I think—and shortly thereafter he was transferred to the editorial department. Then he started writing a column that was a mixture of political thought and just general human interest. We thought it was a great step forward and I think all us were inclined to think well of Ralph McGill.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
He was a dear lifelong friend of Reb Gershon's and she was beyond reproach.
JOHN EGERTON:
He was a nice guy. The people who knew him personally really liked him. He was very warm.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He was a very sweet guy. During the War he came over—this is terrible but I can't remember where I was, I think I was in Sydney, I was in various places in Australia—on one of these tours, and he had with him the guy who was then the head of the School of Journalism at Columbia whom he could not stand. I can't remember this man's name. I knew McGill was coming and I left him a note at the hotel and asked him if I could see him. I got a call and he told me to come on up. I got there and it was terribly hot in the afternoon and he had the window open. He was lying there on the bed with salt in his navel and he had celery which he was dipping in the salt. [laughter] This is one of my fondest memories of McGill.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That must have been a habit he had when he was in his cups then.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Why, you heard that story before?
JOHN EGERTON:
Eating celery.

Page 20
CALVIN KYTLE:
I guess what I'm trying to say is that for a long time during the period that you are talking about my impression was that McGill had a very uneven career, his attitudes were somewhat uneven. It was very hard sometimes to predict how he might land. He was under an awful lot of pressure from Howell and God knows who.
JOHN EGERTON:
When did Howell die? The Constitution and The Journal merged after the War. Was Clark Howell still alive then?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
Was he alive and therefore the godfather of both the newspapers at the time they merged?
CALVIN KYTLE:
When they merged I think Clark Howell sort of backed out.
JOHN EGERTON:
That's when the Coxes took it over, right?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Right.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, giving him every benefit of the doubt maybe McGill, when he was working for Clark Howell, felt he never could really venture very far out on a liberal limb because Howell was not a liberal man at all.
But going back and reading his columns, now he comes across as a man who—and not just because of prudence but because of his basic feelings—really thought that segregation itself was not so much a problem. The problem was the way whites took advantage of blacks under segregation. If you could get the white people to act a little bit more decently segregation would be okay.

Page 21
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
It's strange though that if he felt that back when he could have maintained like this with Rebecca because she was not one to put up with any of that kind of stuff.
JOHN EGERTON:
Rebecca who?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Rebecca Greshon. They knew each other when they were children in Chattanooga.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh, yes. I recall, for example, a column he wrote after that terrible lynching in walton County in '48. Do you remember that pretty well? This was four young people who were lynched, taken out and shot. Two couples, a soldier and his cousin and their two wives. They were all in their young twenties. Nobody was ever arrested, nobody was ever charged. That incident so enraged Harry Truman that he appointed the civil rights committee in anger over that.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That was when a lot of people came to Atlanta from New York and all over. I remember people talking to Josephine about it.
JOHN EGERTON:
It went on for a long time. It went on all the way into '47 and it finally came to nought. Tom Clark, the attorney general, went down there. It was really something, but it came to nothing.
McGill's response through all that was that he was horrified, outraged, he was embarrassed, but he couldn't bring himself to say, "we need a federal anti-lynching law." He was still saying, "if we let the federal government, we let Congress start passing laws on our social condition down here we will

Page 22
never ever get out from under it. It will be like inviting reconstruction again."
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That's straight civil war stuff.
JOHN EGERTON:
I know, and it's hard to deal with it when you read that because I have this image of McGill as a real knight in armor. When the chips finally came down with the Brown decision he was true blue against the worst kind of threat and everything else from then on. He said, "this is the law and we've got to enforce the law." His reputation as a liberal really begins with Brown.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, that's character again, isn't it?
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
More than anything else there's one person, one person and one person.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Have you read Harold Martin's book?
JOHN EGERTON:
Martin adored him and so I think in many ways he was too close to him.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That might be true because Rebecca had said she would never be pleased with whoever wrote it but she did like that.
JOHN EGERTON:
Because the people who liked Ralph McGill had this absolutely intense loyalty and love for him. He could do no wrong in their eyes.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I think it would be interesting to know what McGill's private views were about race and segregation during that period. There were an awful lot of people who really had a public persona and they had to carry out this public role but who really felt quite differently. They lived with great anxiety that they might

Page 23
express themselves a little bit more forthrightly or get angry and say something that they really believed and therefore lose their effectiveness or lose their status or lose their power.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Or they or their children or their wives might be shocked.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, there were all kinds of constraints.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I would hate to be tested that way.
CALVIN KYTLE:
And it was really very difficult for a lot of us during that period because some were better able to restrain themselves than others.
JOHN EGERTON:
It seems to me the ones who were unrestrained were unaffiliated. They had no institutional constraints on them. They didn't work for newspapers or universities or the church.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, certainly not the church.
JOHN EGERTON:
Because the church was really not much help through this time.
Did you know a man named Ashby Jones?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Knew of him.
JOHN EGERTON:
He was pretty much gone by this time but he had been the pastor at one of the big Baptist churches in Atlanta.
CALVIN KYTLE:
The Baptist Tabernacle?
JOHN EGERTON:
No. I think it was maybe Druid Hills or somewhere. He was on the interracial commission from year one and he's a good example of the kind of person who, if you look at him in the 20s and 30s, stands out as a quote "good white person." He was kind, he was generous, he had great empathy and feeling and a paternalistic protective view of blacks. He stayed in that

Page 24
commission all the way until it folded into SRC, and when the argument broke out in SRC, which it did in the very first meeting they had in December of '44, it was over segregation. "Are we for it or are we against it?"
Ashby Jones was so outraged that the question would even be raised that he just stormed out. The people raising the question were Benjamin Mays and [Rufus Clement], the president of Atlanta University, I can't think of his name right now. The old line black academic and religious leaders who had been a part of the commission and a part of the middle ground through this period were the ones who, quite prophetically looking back on it, were saying in 1944, "now is time."
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
You don't mean Benjamin Mays was against integration?
JOHN EGERTON:
No, just the opposite.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Oh, because I remember him at a meeting when he got up and said, "please, let's just do the honorable thing."
JOHN EGERTON:
Benjamin Mays was one of those saying, "now's the time for us to deal with segregation. This organization ought to be against segregation."
Ashby Jones and Virginius Dabney and several others said, "this is ridiculous, we just cannot talk about this."
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
You know, it's easy to be nice to somebody who's still downtrodden. It is awful hard when they get up on the same level for some of us.
JOHN EGERTON:
What about Lillian Smith? Did you all know her?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Jamie and I interviewed her.

Page 25
JOHN EGERTON:
What impression do you have about her as regards to these issues, race and social change at that time?
CALVIN KYTLE:
The time Jamie and I talked with her she was really very bitter about the Atlanta Constitution for one thing and Time magazine for another, because they had been vicious . . .
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Ralph McGill wrote a column about her once and it started off, "Lillian Smith is a zealot."
CALVIN KYTLE:
The one she really hated was a man named William Howland who was with Time. He had said something to her about, "you've used all the other four-lettered words, why don't you use this one," or something like that.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
He was rude to her.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Terribly rude to her. So, I don't know that any impression I have would of her would be very reliable. I ought to dig out some of these interviews for the sake of my own memory.
She told Jamie and me about her experiences with the fathers of some of the children that were in her care. And her main point was that a lot of these men themselves were segregationists, racists, reactionary, but they didn't want their daughters to be that way. So, they deliberately sent their daughters to her knowing that she was of a liberal mind.
JOHN EGERTON:
That's interesting.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That's queer, isn't it? I mean, even if they sent their sons', but their daughters? who might marry one?
JOHN EGERTON:
That's so interesting to me and I must say a little bit suspect. Not that she would say it but that she really could

Page 26
support it with facts because of the very reason you say. If it's true then there was a deeper undercurrent of conscience here than we were lead to believe, then or now. If it was not true I think it maybe says more about her wish or aspirations as a consequence of what she was doing then.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
If it had been true couldn't they have taught them that at home instead of sending them to Miss Lillian?
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, it does seem so.
CALVIN KYTLE:
She mentioned a man who had been attorney general in Georgia. He had the reputation of being a very outspoken segregationist. He had sent his daughter there and told Miss Lillian that he was doing it for this reason. I'm trying to remember his family's name.
You know, that's interesting because I remember there was a family named yount in Atlanta that had several daughters. The youngest of these went to Miss Lillian—whatever the name of her camp was—and I remember Mrs. Yount telling me and several others, "it just absolutely ruined Boopsie, just ruined Boopsie. Boopsie would never be the same again. It was just terrible what Lillian Smith had done to Boopsie."
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, Ben Carmichael's mother said that about Emory.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I know. Well, Brvadus lost his religion at Emory. But, what she was convinced of and complained of about Lillian Smith was that she had given Boopsie all these awful ideas about sex.
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, that's an interesting point, too. Do you think it was generally known that Lillian Smith was a lesbian?

Page 27
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I don't think we thought about that very much.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did anybody think about that at all? In a way for two women to live together then was not all that uncommon, but nobody ever raised a question what sexual consequences there were.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, that's because it used to be purely economic. Nobody I grew up with could afford to live by themselves. I lived in half a room in one house.
JOHN EGERTON:
So, this was really just a question that nobody would ever discuss. I raise it only because of what you said.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
. . . Paula Snelling was just so fiercely and unnecessarily protective. I don't know what we were doing there, but you went there for some reason, just you and me, and you hadn't really asked if you could see Miss Lillian. She was immediately explaining that Miss Lillian could not see us because she was not around or she was terribly busy and she was closeted somewhere with something she had to get done. When we left, which was a matter of a few minutes, we ran into Miss Lillian on the path.
You had not even asked to see her.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I was leaving her something, wasn't I?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes, leaving something for her and Paula Snelling, before you could say a word, she was all over us about how she couldn't be seen.
JOHN EGERTON:
Just didn't want you there.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes and that was the day—I don't know what I said to provoke this—but you said, "well, Miss Lillian is not the first person in her family to do something like this," I mean, the race thing. She said, "well, that's right, my brother Frank had worked a long time before I did against racism."
JOHN EGERTON:
There's a wonderful story in a book she wrote called, Memories of Christmas—I think—. Have you heard of it?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I've heard of it.
JOHN EGERTON:
It's a lovely little story about Christmas at her house and one of the tales she tells is about one Christmas when her

Page 29
father goes out to a chain gang that was billeted somewhere near where they lived—this might have been in Florida where the family was from—and making arrangements to bring these convicts to their house for Christmas dinner. She tells the whole thing about when they came down the road and they came up on the porch and how they dealt with all this. It's quite a lovely story and it gives you the feeling that her father was a man of some sensitivity.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
And that she didn't just spring full grown from somebody's . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
Right, it didn't just pop out of her head. These were apparently white and black—maybe the guards were white and the convicts were black.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
But still, she was so indoctrinated . . . This is not in any thing I read but she told us one time. Maybe Calvin joined the American Veteran's Committee for the same reason others did, it was the only interracial veteran's group in the country. She came one night and I don't whether that was when she told them or not, but the first time she ever sat at the table that wasn't a kitchen table with a black person and ate she went outside and threw up.
JOHN EGERTON:
She told you that?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'll be.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
It wasn't because of any feeling she had then it was because she had broken a taboo. Who knows, you might die if you

Page 30
break a taboo. It's alright in a kitchen, but it's not alright in a dining room with a cloth on the table.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you all think of her then or even later as someone whose views on race were, different as they were from the prevailing views, were correct in any way?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I thought she was wonderful.
JOHN EGERTON:
You did?
CALVIN KYTLE:
Yes. We admired her because she was outspoken and that she had presented this view to the nation.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
We admired her because she had a chance to speak out, I mean, who cared what any of us thought.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, she sort of made her own forum to do that and yet it was a forum where she was pretty secure. She was not under threat of losing her job. Now, she might have lost her clientele at the camp, but they seemed somehow to come regardless of what she did.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Another thing, she felt very secure in that community in Clayton. The people there felt she was kind of crazy, but they indulged her. [laughter]
JOHN EGERTON:
Can you think of anybody else white from that period of time who seems now to you to have been somewhat visionary on this issue and who spoke out directly and openly against segregation?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Most people don't get a chance to speak up publicly because they are not public people.
CALVIN KYTLE:
There's a man in Atlanta named Robert Eleazer.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, who worked for the interracial commission.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
But, there was those women.

Page 31
JOHN EGERTON:
Mrs. Tilly?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Beside Mrs. M.E. Tilly, and Mrs. Turman. was it Mrs. Turman?.
JOHN EGERTON:
Of course, Josephine Wilkins and Lucy Mason. The women seemed to do better by and large. Jessie Daniel Ames.
What about among blacks, who comes to your mind as having articulated a perspective on race at that time?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
You don't mean who was out loud anti-segregation, do you?
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, can you think of anybody who would say that out loud then?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, not out loud publicly. I don't know that anybody could. The Urban League would have destroyed itself, wouldn't it? I mean, I think what you say publicly and what you say privately . . . That was a time when, I won't mention her name now, but when somebody who has since become very fine about race said to me because I knew Grace Hamilton, "you call her Grace and she calls you Elizabeth?" That was in 1944 and '45. But then, she has developed just right straight along the way you said McGill didn't do—up and down.
Daisy Bates is the first black person I ever saw who spoke out loud against segregation.
JOHN EGERTON:
That was in '57.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Yes, that was later.
JOHN EGERTON:
What about Benjamin Mays in this time? What perspective did you have on Benjamin Mays and Rufus Clement?

Page 32
CALVIN KYTLE:
It's sad to say, but we didn't have an awful lot of contact with blacks. I knew Clement and Benjamin Mays by reputation and I admired them as I did Mr. walden. Mr. Walden used to come to these meetings. He would sort of sit there and smile and be sweet. He would very rarely say anything. I just don't have any thoughts.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I remember one thing about Benjamin Mays when he was in that meeting that Josephine was in on and I was there for some reason, not to take part, I was just there. He stood up and said,—I don't remember now what the issue was,—but just pled, "Let's do the honorable thing." I didn't know anything really about him.
CALVIN KYTLE:
In visits to Atlanta University it was almost like excursions, it was very exotic country, I remember sometime right after the War Elizabeth and I went out to Atlanta U. to see the "Barracks of Wimpole Street." It was the first time I had ever seen a white play done with a black cast. I remember how wonderful it was because after about thirty seconds we lost complete sight of the fact that the cast was black.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I think it was good that they were all black. It would have interfered with the drama if there were some black and some white.
CALVIN KYTLE:
They were very good and then I realized that there were things happening on that campus that were interesting to me but were never reported in the Atlanta Press.
For instance, they brought down Eimer Rice who wrote The Adding Machine and Street Scenes. He came down and he was sort

Page 33
of a visiting lecturer there for about a quarter. There was not even an interview with Elmer Rice in The Atlanta Constitution. I would never have heard about it except through maybe somebody like Grace. I remember going out and listening to him and just being absolutely thrilled that somebody like that was in Atlanta and available to me. I kept wondering what else is available to these black folks—why don't they come to Emory? [laughter]
JOHN EGERTON:
Elizabeth, what was your maiden name?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I had a perfectly fine Irish name, Larisey, when I married somebody with a German name.
JOHN EGERTON:
You grew up in Charleston?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Until I twelve and a half. It's a funny age because I was nearly laughed out of the high seventh grade in Valdosta because of the way I talked. I didn't talk the way they did. By the time you are twelve and a half you have formed some speech patterns that you keep, but you're still plastic enough that you change some of them. I was in Valdosta until I moved to Atlanta.
JOHN EGERTON:
What year did you all marry?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
'46.
JOHN EGERTON:
You mentioned a minute ago the American Veterans Committee. Is that the group that is now called AMVETS?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I don't think so.
JOHN EGERTON:
That's a different group.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I think the American Veterans Committee is gone.
JOHN EGERTON:
They are still in the phone book here.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
The American Veterans Committee? Really?

Page 34
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes. They have a national headquarters down on Massachusetts Avenue. I'm going to make contact with them because they were truly the only interracial organization.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
That's the only reason people like Harold Fleming and Calvin joined a veterans group.
JOHN EGERTON:
They were all over the South. There were quite a few of them. There was one in Nashville.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
They had chapters in Valdosta named the Jose Gonzalez Chapter and they were everywhere.
JOHN EGERTON:
I've got to find somebody who can tell me more of the history.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Is Les Percells in Atlanta?
JOHN EGERTON:
He's there and I talked to him.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
He was so funny. We lived five miles beyond Oglethorpe in Dunway. We lived in Piney Woods and that was full of highrise apartments. I used to work three days a week at the Americans Veterans Committee doing clerical work. They had a meeting one night and they waited on by a visitation of klansmen. I remember saying the next to Les, "what did they look like?" And he said, "Elizabeth, you would be surprised, they look just like people."
JOHN EGERTON:
It was all around and there was a chapter in Chapel Hill that George Tindall belonged to.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I can't remember his name but when he went to other places trying to organize it he had a very hard time.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, when you get out of the cities it would be pretty hard.

Page 35
Speaking of Chapel Hill, that university really stands out like a beacon through the 30s and 40s, all through Frank Porter Graham's tenure there. It was so exceptional in so many ways and when Graham left, that vision seemed to go with it. Of course, it still has a wonderful reputation and I'm sure deservedly so, but it was different without Frank Graham. His personality added a lot to character of that place.
I don't think there is any other university in the South that, again, thinking of an institutional pillar that helps to shape the attitudes and beliefs of people. No other university in the South that I have been able to find really did much to help the South reach a higher vision in those years. Can you think of any?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, weren't they scared too?
JOHN EGERTON:
Well, if they were, why wasn't Chapel Hill?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I don't know.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I think it has something to do with the difference between North Carolina and other states in the South.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'm not sure I completely believe that difference exists, even today.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, when Edith Irby went to the medical school at Arkansas the head of that school said, "If we publicize this it will destroy the whole experiment." He said, "we cannot give anybody a medical education segregated, it's physically impossible." So, that was sort of accepted. But, I had the feeling they were very glad to do it.

Page 36
I did write something for Harper's and then they say they wouldn't use it because it showed no philosophical change. This president said to me, "if this is what you are talking I could have been destroyed, the whole experiment." I think they were scared and maybe it would have destroyed it.
JOHN EGERTON:
But, what it comes down to though, again, and we have the wonderful advantage of half a century of hindsight to analyze all of this, is that the South, though it may have had an opportunity to make social change at that time, failed to do so because its institutions and its leaders failed to take it there.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I think that's right. The thing about people like Frank Graham is that the establishment in the South could sometimes tolerate people like Frank Graham who would somehow be in a position to negotiate and they would tolerate Graham and as long as Graham was around things could appear to be moving. All the time, however, the establishment would be sort of unhappy with people like Frank Graham.
JOHN EGERTON:
He was so popular and he had such an image among all kinds of people that, I guess, he was almost beyond attack from any serious political segment until he got into the Senate and they got him then.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Usually in situations like that with the prototype of a Graham there would be somebody very important, a powerful economic figure above who kept him secure and protected.
In Atlanta, for instance, Robert Woodruff was always seen as that person and he later became very important as a protector even of Ralph McGill. But, at the time you are talking about he

Page 37
was the big factor at Emory as he continued to be. Goodrich White, as I remember, was a member of the Southern Regional Council, but you had no expression from Goodrich white comparable to anything that came out of Frank Graham.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
Well, maybe he didn't have a protector.
CALVIN KYTLE:
That's what I'm saying, because Bob Woodruff was different from whomever was protecting Graham.
JOHN EGERTON:
I'm not sure who that was in North Carolina.
CALVIN KYTLE:
The economic thing was diffuse. It wasn't as it was in Atlanta or in Georgia concentrated in a few people like [unknown] and Robert Woodruff.
JOHN EGERTON:
It was quite remarkable to think that Frank Graham and Mrs. Tilly were the two southerners on the President's Committee on Civil Rights that in November 1947, issued the first federal government policy statement on segregation saying that it has to go, it's ruining the country.
Do you all think, speaking personally, that when you think back to '48, '50 and '52, did you see the Brown decision coming? Did you see the federal government getting ready to change the policies?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I didn't.
JOHN EGERTON:
And if you didn't then it would be safe to say, wouldn't it, that the vast majority of the people didn't, white or black? It was an unthinkable thought almost, wasn't it, that it would actually come to that?
CALVIN KYTLE:
I think at that time what we hoped, of course, there would be equal opportunity.

Page 38
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
You mean, you hoped that's what would really happen. What you wanted and what you thought would happen.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I'm sure Harold [Fleming] would have a much better idea of this than I. I wasn't really studying policy at that time. Harold was.
JOHN EGERTON:
Do you think now if the South had gotten what it was asking for essentially, "leave us alone and we will work this out, we will make separate equal, we will treat people right." Do you think it ever would have happened?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I don't, but that's personality again. I don't think anybody has ever done anything when they were let alone. Nobody has ever done anything as long as people were nice about it. I don't think anybody has made any progress at all as long they were oppressed or quiet.
JOHN EGERTON:
So, what it really comes down to is this notion that I began our conversation with, that this was a time when voluntary social change was possible, that's a naive view, isn't it? It really wasn't possible in any practical sense. The South was not truly going to make social change in any major way voluntarily. As we look back on the period of '45 and '50 it seems it might have had a great opportunity. Practically speaking it didn't really, did it?
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
I wouldn't dare answer that because I've lived—my health has been rotten—shut in and I haven't been out in the real world much. I just don't believe that anybody behaves better until they have to. You know, it wasn't nice people who started the American Revolution, it was a bunch of waterfront

Page 39
toughs. I think we have to be grateful to the rude people who would do that. I don't think anybody has made any advance as long as they were quiet about being mistreated.
You were talking about leadership. Maybe if there had been that they would have gone along with it. I don't know.
CALVIN KYTLE:
Here's an interesting question. I'm just wondering if there could have been any changes in the economics of the South that would have been conducive to voluntary change? I've always been impressed by the difference between Atlanta and Birmingham in the 50s. I think in contrasting the Coca Cola Company and U.S. Steel there is a lesson in that somewhere because Coca Cola got to be more and more concerned about the black market. I think it had to have to some kind of solution.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
If it had worked out it would have been a lot easier and pleasanter. I very often think that we let things get so bad that we can't fix it, ever.
JOHN EGERTON:
That often seems to be the case.
CALVIN KYTLE:
I do think that Harry Ashmore is right that there was always a great deal more receptivity among whites than generally acknowledged. Without that receptivity the change would have been more painful.
JOHN EGERTON:
But, another conclusion you could draw from that is that if the receptivity was indeed there then the leadership really defaulted even worse, didn't it? Because the leadership would have said, in fact, still would say, we didn't do it because people wouldn't go with us and we would not have been able to hold the line. The suspicion here is that maybe the

Page 40
people would have gone. They certainly went later on. All the way into the 60s people were saying, "oh, no, we will never do this," but we turned around and did it. Even now we are in better shape, I think, than most other parts of the country.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
By leaders, you mean politicians. You know what I said about people who used to sit up here and complain about Ralph McGill, you can't get too far ahead of the people he's trying to influence. They also wanted to get elected or reelected.
JOHN EGERTON:
Calvin, you mentioned in that Harper's piece, without naming the individual, the chief political officer of the Georgia Power Company, who was that?
CALVIN KYTLE:
A guy named Fred Wilson.
JOHN EGERTON:
He must have packed a lot of influence at that time.
CALVIN KYTLE:
He was very powerful in the Georgia State Legislature. I don't think Jamie and I were ever able to interview him.
ELIZABETH KYTLE:
At the power company didn't people come to work and find little notes on their desks telling them who to vote for?
JOHN EGERTON:
Yes, he pretty much owned that whole bunch.
You both have certainly been very helpful to this process for me and given the circumstances with the flooding and all the other problems I really feel a special debt to you.
END OF INTERVIEW