This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Van Doren introduces Thompson, who talks about Churchill and his book "Assignment Churchill."
Van Doren introduces Ritchie, who talks about her childhood in Kentucky, music, and her book "Singing Family of the Cumberlands." She also performs. She introduces each song, which she performs on a dulcimer. Performs "Barbry Ellen,"
an unnamed song, a short Baptist hymn, and "Hop Around, Skip Around Old Betty Larkin."
Van Doren introduces Taylor, who talks about the Fifth Amendment, the "know nothing" party, and his book "Grand Inquest: The Story of Congressional Investigations."
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71233
Municipal archives id: LT6612
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Our first speaker today. Is inspector Thompson. The life of Winston Churchill I think we would all agree is precious to the whole world. And for nineteen and a half years he's most active and in danger as the guarding of it was entrusted primarily to one man Scotland Yard assigned brother Henry Thompson to the task an exciting but certainly nothing easy one I'm happy to introduce to you inspect the world around him or a Thompson of Scotland enough to. Add I'm Chairman Ladies and gentleman. As just one point that the chairman has missed. She forgot to call him so when Mr Ritchie left it to me to do and I didn't want to do it. He ordered me here instead of me he could tell you quite a lot more than I can tell you about I'll give you a little of it while I can and the point about mentioning his name Mr Winston is this that I never knew him or so Winston at all that's rather foreign to me he used to be the old man thoughtfully. They were the names I used to use. But you know at the end of the War I when unfortunately he was thrown out of office in England his late majesty offered him the honor of the Garter which of course he now has but it is said that he turned round to his Majesty and said How can I accept the God of a million Majesty when your subjects have already given me the vote. Over all the urge is one of the most amazing men I've ever had to deal with. I've had many to deal with that he's the most amazing his character is so extreme in many ways on one side severe Stern ruthless if necessary on the other most kind most affectionate though sentimental as sentimentality shows itself so much with his man where you've got the enormous strength on one side and you get the sentimentality only other to see him dictate a speech my wife has to take to learn Incidentally he's never forgive me to this day when I take her from him I'm going to have be about it but he is. Anyway you can get a back that. He will start a speech walking up and down a room mattress and all a sudden the flow will start and if you come to a part which is sentimental to see the tears literally stream another man's face he'll come to another part where there's humor and he'll chuckle away suddenly enjoying himself. Come to another part where he wants force and determination and down to go is for you can you dance like this is he walked up and down just dictated deliberate every moment in that speech but you know he has not the slightest idea of time as regards work and if there are any ladies in this audience that have taken a shot at what I have been secretaries I'll get an idea what I'm going to tell them one night he started at quarter to ten I dictated to my wife. He finished at three o'clock in the morning. That was short and usually she took it straight on to the typewriter but this he did modest thoughts disturbed it wasn't continuous Of course I when I say that I don't mean to say he went out of the wrong but he will calm down and think in the flow and start and the three o'clock he turned round to her and said Well you needn't worry about that Michelin as long as I get it by eight o'clock in the morning. Five and a quarter hour shorter and five hours to type it and of course he had to have it and he had it as one thing about the staff around Winston he drives you to the limit but you can't let him down it's an impossibility it's something that he's not done he's only got to look at you and smile with that most mysterious smile of his and your do anything for him because you know he's the most devious individual level officers you know just do it with think he's not supposed to do send down by your late President Roosevelt to Miami where he was told he was perfectly free to do if he liked nobody would bother what happens I said are you going to swim here sir he said of course Thompson That's what I've come for but I seem to have a little question. Made money by private I'm told I can do as I like but I said you know citizen has a long there has ever been Oculus always by those whose eyes are they concealed when he said you know Thompson is that interested in me it serves him right all they see. And he didn't have to cost you. So I had to work out what into the sea with this great big ass towel around him like that a medium coming out but if you had seen the mystery was look on that man's face all the time. Mischief he was born with it and you'll die with it but it's a lovely side of that man that you can get the humor and this mysterious side of him come out even in the greatest danger I remember quite well in London where twenty seconds and then the nearest to a bomb dropping on us and we hear the bomb just as we got in the building he turned around mean he said that was an M. and M's mustn't I said yes to me and for me he had to come out and have a look there was this great hole in the road on the pavement we just walked over so he said that was put in there wasn't it I said just seconds only at that moment a water main burst and drenched the pair of us right through to the skin so I thought I'd get him for a change so I said Now you see what you've got something coming out your drenched always about who's laughing times in your eyes I wondered what was coming he said you know I'm going inside to have a nice change. Change my clothes he said What are you going to do I have not the facilities and you know it. I got it of course but all those things under those circumstances are enormous train times and yet you know that man in the afternoon could decide he wanted to sleep evoke into his bedroom as soon as he gets inside the door he starts taking off his clothes as he walks along the bedroom in that direction to the end of the bed up there by the time he's got there all his clothes are off dot com route. When he gets there he puts a set in band about that debt's which fits right over his head and they are every one of us carried one of those bands but never without one. Shot however you get into big I pick up those clothes pull the curtains fast asleep before I get out of the world through so concentration. And if we were on a ship on the train on an airplane and we did mostly by airplane again as he could get that sleep and he'd get up then as a question of days in go straight on to the early morning I wish I could have got it you should say usually when I'm sleeping that's when I have to say that never stopped him from sleeping. His day after seven in the morning to mostly three the next and you know you got to watch him every moment because he'd be gone OK shocked and he just loved if he could get away from me. He didn't. Tell you what he did one night. We had a very bad re going on and Mrs Churchill came along to me and said Inspector I'm going downstairs to sleep tonight and I've asked Mr Churchill to come down the fact was he lived all the way some of the war on top of the air raid shelter and underneath he would not go down there on this occasion I said Well. I'll do what I can madam she said you can get him down if you want to as I do when I can and really he was most amenable you know generally speaking as soon as I found it out and I had never had how to handle him which I did but to my amazement about how past two instead of three came out of his room and there was a grin on his face now I thought what mischief Europe you up to at half past two in the morning he said Thompson got my dressing gown and slippers I'm going downstairs to bed I looked at I couldn't believe it that he would go down like that so yes I mean it I'm going down so I got the movie went down I'm dressed got into bed I went to my room and waited I never underestimate it was something sure enough the bell rang back I went there he was out of bed with his dressing gown down going all over his face he said Well done. To pick up my clothes I've kept my promise I'm going downstairs to bed now I'm going upstairs to sleep. There are the type of things as managed to get up to we used to keep danger from him because a shore is the danger evoke straight out into it but the museum part about it was didn't during the war that were not amusing that's the wrong word the amazing part about it was that this man had faith from the beginning of the time he was made prime minister that he was going to carry on a mission much of the war and time after time he did something that usually he never did because he's a man of habit and every time it saved his life it was most amazing I want to cation getting in the wrong side of the car and sit in but instead sitting behind me on the other side we could be out of sight in England a bomb got cars nearly turned over I look to see him hanging on tight and when the count on it fall we always use it that was a near one THOMPSON It must have been my belief that kept it down. Little realizing when I got back I suggested but why did you set that sign he said I don't know comes something told me to sit there and he said I saw you got the door open the other side and you did these don't usually it's because I'm certain if you've been on the other side of the car we should none of that but we were travelling pretty fast at the time Little things like that occurred the same thought on that occasion when we were down at Miami we had been reported from the moment we got away from America our movements were reported to the Germans we got back to generalizing house headquarters still and movements reported we got into the plane to leave there was something wrong with the plane we could take off that night. The General and you must pardon me calling him General Eisenhower as with no disrespect. To but he he left us and he returned to his headquarters we eventually returned because Winston wouldn't go there was something wrong with one of the engines although they thought they could put it right we got back to find that we don't would have been reported as having lived and what happened that night Leslie out of the answer party was shot down you remember that and when I saw Winston next after he made his offer to inquire he said Thompson they lost their lives for us he was very very moved indeed about then suddenly his finger but don't forget Thompson he said that mission is going to be accomplished and right the way through continually when we had these near misses from death you turn around and come back with that same impression that this mission was going to be performed. But you know I also had difficulties with it with him with elections but he'd always got the answer immediately do anything. When he was in the jungle days and he got a moustache and he turned on the lady because she told him she didn't like his ideas and start. To turn around and said oh man i'm nobody about that because you're most unlikely to come in touch with either of them. A certain lady M.P. that. Whenever she met Winston there always seemed to be a friendly rivalry with each other rather as we term it in England pulling each other's leg and I was sitting having some coffee one day and this lady suddenly turned to Winston as if you know Winston if you were my husband I put poison in your coffee. So he looked at and he said would you he said yes I would when he said you know if I like your husband I'll drink it. I've never known a man Mr Johnson's that matter what he got up to it always got the answer but I would have liked to do you a little fair over the Brick Lane episode because he is the only prime minister that is a member of the Union and made a member without his own without his own wish or to question it because it was the outcome of. Making polls and waterfalls that charter a man to his country house now he and I made those waterfalls and they and the pulls and ever made me remember about him when I used to make up the mortar for him and he used to waste it. He was not satisfied with using the trout he wanted to use a shovel shovel on the time so you can imagine the amount of mortar that I used to have to make up I loved it it was fine its eyes for me kept me in good trim but from that he had this message from the bricklayer union making him a member and my word I've never seen a man more please in all my life but if you had seen his first effort eventually after they began to throw him out and he became a craftsman and he started to become one he made his first effort on the first floor of the cottage he went in at lunch the foreman Victor said to me look at that wall Mr Thompson if he puts another course on the top it'll fall over. So I said we'll pull it down and rebuild it while he's inside you see not make it but I sent you a billet if I put it down he said yes so I really I pulled it all down and here we built it rise it don't make it too straight. He came up the ladder after lunch smoking a cigar immediately as he'd come over the top state of that world when these archives Well he and I know each other very well he used to watch each other's faces and we used to tell each other off by looking at each other but no words it's quite enough to look at each other but I was watching his face I couldn't see I think but he gets out of my arm walks me straight to the wall and then we start looking I kept on looking sideways at him no impression whatever from his face all of a sudden he said Look at that wall THOMPSON Look at the beautiful and straight first time the farmer the big plastered alongside he was doubled up with laughter. So he turned to him and said What's the matter with you so the because you know I've got a bit of a painter. So when said you have a smile on my prick spine a chance here. And you know to this day I've asked him whether he knew that he was pulled down and he will not answer me. All he says is this Never you mind I'm somebody. That's on your side I like the way through when I rejoined him during the war and he will not tell me I'm still having to get him out and get it out in one day I don't believe he did know and he won't answer. Draco saying well I don't believe you did notice it now I I know my time is going there's other people to follow about. I would like to bring this point about Winston to your good is a point that I know is very much up a matter most in his mind. I believe myself that this man. Comes from two things the statesmanship of a starter in a fine statesman in England and the human brilliance of his mother you know he claims and rightly so too to be fifty percent American and he loves to talk about it and he does. So we'll give you fifty percent off we got him anyway. But. What I would like to bring to your notice is this. One of the greatest statesmen ever the greatest Anglo-American ever in my opinion and I believe myself that if we can produce men like that together what. If we stick together thank you very much. And. The book is simply some anecdotes and more and more amusing stories and it's a real picture of Churchill that I'm sure you wi