Bruce Ferguson and Miriam (Mimie) Pacheco

Recorded May 30, 2008 Archived May 30, 2008 41:17 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX003926


Bruce Ferguson talks with his daughter, Mimie Pacheco about his love of history, farming, and serving in a public service office for over 20 years.

Subject Log / Time Code

Bruce was born in 1929. Since there were few country roads his parents made arrangements to have him at the hospital in Covington, KY. His mom framed the bill for $35.00.
Bruce talks about how his great-grandmother, Bessie Baker became “land poor” in the depression because she was left with 700 acres of beautiful farmland but no money to farm.
Bessie used to invite family over for dinner and mention “after-the fact” that the fried chicken came from a chicken on the side of the road. She always used to say, “the chicken was warm when she picked it up”.
Bruce loved high school and played on the state champion football team at Holmes High School. His junior year he bought a 1924 Model T and he still has this car today.
Bruce served as the County Judge Executive for Boon County for over twenty years.


  • Bruce Ferguson
  • Miriam (Mimie) Pacheco

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:05 Okay, my name is Miriam Ferguson Pacheco. And I go by the nickname many my age is 51 the date is May 30th, 2008 and the location is in the Museum Center at Cincinnati, Ohio and my relationship to the one I'm interviewing is I am the third daughter of five children. This is my father and my name is Bruce Stuart Ferguson born in 1929. That's 2 years after Lindbergh flew the Atlantic. So puts it in perspective. And let's see y'all Calvin Coolidge. I think was President of the United States at that time.

00:49 I think he was there just before Hoover means that I'm 79 years old at the moment and here on this May 30th of 2008 with my daughter Mimi and the what was called Union Station when I was a kid growing up and noticing this place was built in 1931. So it was a tremendous memories to me as a young person. So my daughter Mimi is ready to fire away and best to you meme.

01:22 Well data was thinking about how different the world is today from your time growing up and you love history so much. You know you record so many things. I just want to hear some stories about what it was like being a depression baby growing up my born like you said 1929. So what was that childhood like for you my parents took me to the big city of Covington for my birth because they're there were no roads out in the country to speak of the new highway us 42 is being built about the time of my birth and wasn't completed until about 19 31 or 32. So I was born in the city of Covington house that my mom and dad by my mother's father was in the real estate business and he had a vacant house. He was trying to run so they moved into

02:21 And the interesting part about my birth is that when the moment of my arrival is imminent? They called the doctor, but the South was on the other side of the tracks. The train was coming. He couldn't get across the tracks. So I would my father delivered me after my delivery took me to the hospital in Covington and we kept the bill from the hospital for the 3 days that my mother spent in the hospital after my recovery. My mother frame that $35 that was the charge to the hospital for 3 days if my mother stay there after my birth before I was just amazing, but they did that sound like a lot of money to them or they were farmers, right?

03:22 And my mother's parents to pay the hospital bills and then went back out to the country. Now. I had a brother Walter who is born in 1927. So there is 60 months difference in our age. So here they were out on the farm that had belonged to my mother's great-grandfather.

03:44 During this. Of time during the twenties. A lot of people don't realize that this was the Roaring Twenties but farming was very difficult during the 20s headband good before World War 1 after World War 1 was over but farming went into a great declined. So Depression started really on the farms of the United States before the stock market crash which happened the year. I was born. So that was always dramatic than the 1929 was when they were jumping off buildings in New York City, but could you tell me the benefit of living on a farm was that you actually had food to eat and you know, right but we sure ate a lot of pork. The only time we got beef was in the fall of the year when we have because there weren't any deep freezes or ways to preserve beef.

04:44 So where did beef hamburger and steaks like crazy for about a month and November and then after that it was back to eating pork which you could cure cure hams and cured are bacon and Mom would can the pork loin and sausage my God, wait, sausage and bacon jowl bacon all year long as a youngster the in the summertime the great treat for me was to get a hamburger because that are that was just glory to have heard of that be that isn't me? Yeah, all the food came off for the farm. We always had a tremendous Garden at my mother came and everything my God, and she had a pressure cooker to add a canning machine and everything people from the city back in my youth of mom and dad's friends both of them my mother and father grew up in the city of Covington. My dad was a Covington boy my mother.

05:44 With her parents most of the time but in the Summer she lived on the farm with her grandmother, lady. That's right. Bessie Baker was my great-grandmother. Her husband was Charles Philip Baker and Charles Philip Baker's ambition in life was to buy all the land around him. So when he died in 1929 4 days before I was born he had seven hundred acres of land right in the midst of a depression. We were my great-grandmother would have qualified for what we used to be called land poor. She had all this land and two colored families that lived on the farm that tended to the farm and distinctly enough but last name of this family's Baker the same as my great grandfather in his father and his father which probably went back to the days of slavery. All the month of farming was done with mules and horses.

06:44 You didn't have tractors back then.

06:48 And so went on her husband Charles Baker died my great-grandmother, Bessie Baker was left with 700 Acres of beautiful Farmland, but no market for the product and no money to pay to go with that.

07:07 And he had $5,000 in the Erlanger Deposit Bank $5,000.

07:16 That bank folded Ono said he got nothing and there was no Federal Deposit Insurance at that. My great-grandmother was left threadbare. You might say with the two colored Families my mom and dad to try to feed No Cap. I don't know money to buy much with and so those were very difficult Economic Times, but I guess we didn't realize how miserable we were supposed to be because everybody else seemed to be in the same state.

07:58 So that that's the important things about youth growing up on the farm and like I say experiences them where I remember when I was about three years old. Maybe it's for that's about as far back as I can remember and I even sketchy then I remember when they first put Electric in the house. So I grew up when we first lived in the old farmhouse, which was a log house.

08:28 Basically log that have been clapped forwarded over the house was built in 1823 is Ono the rest of your funny school and there weren't

08:53 There was no Central High School in Boone County and there were I think for different high schools scattered around the Moon.

09:00 But almost all the kids were Farm kids, I mean

09:06 There weren't any City kids soda speaker kids whose parents weren't Farmers everybody Boone County was a farming Community more involved with each other's work or everybody would you look at it in terms of community compared to the day and hardly keep in mind. We had a dairy herd. So we had all the milk and butter we made butter butter butter butter milk that you would share with the community or what we sold milk until I finally got the electric in the barn when we got electric milkers, but

09:58 The like I said, we had all the eggs and chickens and hating you got to eat a lot of fried chicken with you pretty good, but you're still you didn't want to kill the chickens too often and you've heard me talk about it might she would invite us down to her house for which was just down the road and stars a house that her husband had built in 1880.

10:27 And she wouldn't write this down. She call my mother on the party line and say surely come on down here. I got I got chicken. We're going to have I got to check if I can cook for the family and we get down there. That would be the chicken in a roasted chicken on the table. And she said Aunt Shirley was killed on the road by car, but it was still warm when I got a joke about that. My great-grandmother died in 1940 Betsy Baker shoes. Just such a baker from The McConnell line of wonderful line. I'm so proud of and your middle name as my middle name. That part of the family. I find people her mother.

11:27 Mary Stuart McConnell my middle name Stewart had gone to Nazareth Academy in Boyle County. She was orphaned you might say it's a child the father went off to the War of 1812 and there came back and I don't know whether he was killed or just decided pastors look better in Texas or something, but be that as it may she was adopted by a prominent family without children and they sent her to pay for a tremendous education at Nazareth Academy, which was a Catholic Convent down in Boyle County.

12:11 Which is some people always wonder why our family prayer in the family. She was educated married into the McConnell. Now what she educated in a profession or I didn't know about the play the piano beautifully put was the classical education you received their. Well, that's who married John Calvin McConnell.

12:57 And came back to Boone County. He was from the Boyle County area, but she assisted in buying it laying down on East Ben bottoms Boone County beautiful wonderful farmland. And that's for the McDonald's established themselves. That farm now has the power plan for a Pirate's Landing Winfield, Greystone or something in there because they were going to tear everything up to build a beautiful. Is that why you're so close to the Dinsmore Homestead? Is that right up the river they were in the same category of River Plantation. So I know you're real fond of that. Okay.

13:57 Well, I mean when your talk about your memories of your relatives, did you have a favorite relative that you felt like men toward you or inspired you or or build your values your mom and dad or your grandparents or do you think she she inherited much from Mary Stuart and from Bessie McConnell right arm tradition with Farm life and but an appreciation of Education her parents sent her to the private Catholic School La Salette Academy in Covington when she was living there. My mother was wonderful at writing as you know, I mean she kept a diary all her life tremendous diary.

14:53 And was just had a wonderful way of expressing herself and she wrote letters to everybody that member of getting letters at Camp Ernst everybody. She was tremendous in that regard.

15:16 Letters from her what? Are you guys both? Remember kind of learning about I guess your mom and your grandma. I'm right about her personality or inner monologue. You know, how letters are kind of a different way of expressing yourself, right? When you think back to some of her writing or what really stands out beautiful way of expressing herself and her vision of love right and wrong and very political letters to pull up politician governors of politics because she and my father both collect the presidential autographs right and had them all the way from Washington to Franklin D Roosevelt.

16:12 The walls of our house, but she is she was very well learned very well read and could express herself beautifully and lots of our grandfather and Charles Baker who had some money back in the good farming days Center to Center College when it was called kcw Kentucky college for women and although she didn't get her degree from there. She'd gone to Holmes high school and then to Centre College and I think that did a great deal to enhance her interest and literature and our ability to write so well, but she had her riding was interesting cuz of her wit I think she would put remarks and

17:12 That's why I think I don't I didn't catch it when I was a child, but now reading might the writings now is itsfunneh reading her journals. Now, I received a letter from your mother Shirley and always said something she is something everybody is a Union Community bragged about her. She she was quite a lady my notice that her values have shaped you a lot and I remember her putting out food for I forget whether she called and Peddlers people would come by the store on the road, and she said she was going to but she was going to fix up a plate for somebody and I look out right. She's very generous wasn't she

18:00 Sign lady in that regard. I've been tied her a thinking life was work. Oh my God. She believed she had the work ethic. She got up at 4:30 in the morning and help milk the cows. I know somebody else like that. She felt if you weren't willing to work hard and not expect to get paid for you weren't worth much. She felt like that's the way I was raised my gosh being like a bad my brother and I are working when we would sure rather else be doing something else, but and I know she gave up on this many times when she would send us out of the back of fats, which was a big crop in those days the soccer tobacco and and I would slip off and go down in the woods with the excuse. I was going to drink out of the creek and decide the woods look more like

19:00 Treasure Island, which I shred and I ended up laying around on there and she'd jump on me. Now you get back here and get to work and she was such a loving person that from her in May but I think it was something is different about you and your mom. I mean as much as you admire values you always love the Arts and Music and I wonder who if that was just something you discovered or was that influence came from my mother and her grandmother and great-grandmother and music could have always been a strong feature of the McConnell McConnell. Listen to McConnell line the one relative to the choir director at the University of Kentucky. Jean-Marie McConnell and you you picked up the appreciation of Music in my other daughter Carol Wright. So my mother could play the piano So Good by father. We used to have family sing-alongs at home on the on the upright piano.

20:00 I just realized she could play the piano. I didn't remember a piano Brianna was gone. And of course she got arthritis in her hands so bad. She couldn't play Hi-Fi remember the records and albums and you were always playing the the the musicals and there was always music in the house at 9 was never nearly so good. Although I took the end of lessons in my youth but I had to pay for myself and I think it was $0.50 a lesson on Saturday how to do right, right. I'll tell me how you met mom because that was

21:00 Hell yeah, I want to New Haven. That's right. Right during the War years country schools were so bad. Keep in mind the war started December 7th 41 my father shortly after the war started.

21:20 Join the Marines because while he got a commission as an officer in the Marines through the influence of his old College buddy, buddy. Happy Chandler a b Chandler. They were fraternity Brothers at UK and all the happy was really at then the fraternity of trance in my father was in the fraternity UK that got together a lot. Happy Coach that you can be that isn't me? I might he got him a commission in the Marines and my father left for the Marine Corps December 7th of 1942. When year did the day after Pearl Harbor or Amazon 36 months most of that time in the in the Pacific that hard cuz I guess you don't know my father was working for the state my father had a job, but my father did never never share for farming. I want Happy Chandler was elected to keep in mind that with this such close friends through college days.

22:20 I want to happy Chandler going to like the 1935 and he gave my father a job with old age assistance in Kentucky. So my father was able to get off a farm that really what he wanted to do anything for sure and an ER nurse salary in A & G he made like $100 a month which made us really exceptional people in the community. And I was one of the few kids in New Haven School whose father wasn't strictly a dirt farmer gave us income and allow me to buy pretty good car. And I remember when he finally got up to $125 a month, which is pretty good money after he wanted to service my brother and the schools in the country got so bad because there were no male teachers all them going into the service.

23:15 And and kitchen school that when you got to be 17 you quit school and join the USA Army Navy Marines. So my brother had started at Holmes high school before 1944 and live with my grandmother in Covington. So the next year I joined him at my grandmother's house and entered Holmes High School 1945. That's a great experience of my life. One of the greatest things that ever happened to me was going to Holmes high school and playing football there and my senior your Weber State Champs. I played Right Guard 1947 right season, 46 class of 47 graduating class because I love people so much because I had no play makes growing up. I mean I have any neighbors

24:15 He loved all the social life tree kids all over the place and I just couldn't resist. I want to know all of them and I got to know him. So well and appreciate my situation there that they liked me class president my junior year also again my senior year and got to play football in my senior year. We were undefeated state champs. I've played Right Guard and the poet such a wonderful life going to high school in this was during the War years 1944-45 even and my brother went into the heat when he graduated problems went through UK, but they must drafted and he went in the army people can recognize today what it was like to finish Warriors the 1940s. Oh God, wonderful the spirit the attitude of the American public during the war will never see that again ever. There was so much cooperation then

25:15 So you didn't see that political divide that we see Dad a junior in high school and even passed away and so are there was very little political divide to ever the country was United during the war and every family at somebody in the search for everything everything in all day to hang the red star in their windows and every now and then you see a gold star for the loss. And even in Union that was for The Departed Soldier military and Union. I remember Charlie Boy Craddock. The critics were good family was killed at the Battle of Arnhem. He was a paratrooper and he was the first fella I knew that was killed in the war.

26:13 So but the warriors were so interesting and then the end of the country was so you'd minded people work labor. Also dedicated to Conquering the evil of Germany and Japan, but of course we hated the Germans related to Japanese Yen to have a Covington. We're German. What was that? Like was it my all I can say is the War years were very dramatic and I had an impact on my youth and you learn to do without things were raised. You could not buy new. No new cars were being built. And of course, that was mine.

27:07 Laughter by junior year in high school's when I bought my first car and I

27:14 Don Davis good friend of mine. We took our jobs cleaning wallpaper and painting teachers houses and save enough money to buy I have when I say $50, I bought a 1924 Model T touring car. Right? Right the first car I ever owned the course it was an old car when I bought kids from Dixie Heights namely Drogi when he graduated from Dixie graduated in 46. So after he graduated, I bought it this summer 46 and drove it all through High School New Haven Drive to UK that's amazing was roadworthy because of you know, I took care of you would go junk yards and find tires and Patch him and everything else but that of this and gas was rationed I could buy

28:14 $5 for the five gallons of gas per dollar leave right around at night and had to get used to it when we play Rodger bacon with paint beat bacon on the side of the car and we had lost a bacon. The only team homes lost two for the three years I want to is Rodger bacon. We never lost to Kentucky team Rodger Holmes High School football Powerhouse and my singing year. Then we beat everybody and were declared state champions. And that's where I met your mom and

28:59 What was your direction for UK? Did you know if he wanted to go into law he went through UK on a football scholarship play two years of UK and then Xavier University here and offered him more money to play football for that have we always joked about that? Say played two years for Xavier, but was so busy playing football and he never got a degree, but he wanted to be a lawyer and wanted me to be one. So I entered UK's in pre-law history in Fremont. But as time went by I realized my life was on the farm. I want to be a farmer and then

29:42 And so I switch to agriculture than met your mom while I was there and because I you know, I should have been in the class of 51 the same as your mother. Because I'd switch to colleges my I was running short on I realized if I stayed to get a degree in agriculture to take me another two years.

30:08 And I came to the conclusion. I could learn to be a good farmer by farming more than I could sitting at UK judging and livestock What attracted you to Mom director of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. That's the same fraternity. My father has been in and my brother was in at the same time. That's what you're good at. My job was arranging parties and I was deranged and to rush a to encourage other young guys to pledge a fraternity and so

30:54 I was trying I was lining up young freshman. I would get them date and tickets to the football game. And so I was trying to get this Dave shop wonderful guy from Campbell County and when they came up very active appraiser real estate appraiser. I was supposed to get him a date. Well, I like to have a date for myself. I was told that this girl over and Jewell Hall was interested in her name. They weren't sure her name is either pass or Beth Or what one real sure, but she said she liked me so I called her and asked her to go to the football game. She said okay. Well then I had to get them so that it was my responsibility to get a date for Dave Shep and the

31:54 I called another girl to get him a date. She so I've gone won't go with him, but I'll go with you and her name is Kathy and I thought she was so I got two dates. So I called this girl named Beth Or Beth back. And I said look, how do you mind going with somebody else instead of me? And she said no, I don't care. So and your mother off on Dave Chappelle and I took this girl Cathy. I came to the conclusion that the better person was the one who she said, that's okay with me and so to make it up to having stood her up on the first date that I ever made with her. I called her again. We next football game and after that we picking started dating regular by so that's that's how it all started. But her name was in college was best, but I got confused and thought it was Beth and I always go.

32:54 Beth even though she'd been named Beth's after her aunt Beth and I Lisbeth Lisbeth Sao wants you to call her Beth. That was okay with her. She didn't care much for school to start farming full-time and December or January of 51 and we got married that August of 1951 and and she after she graduated. So I was sure to degree and she was introduced to farm life farm girl. So she went on to become a school teacher and then not be enough, but I do have you asked him to marry you.

33:51 Well gee, whiz, I think I asked you to marry her when I bought her an engagement ring and I was thinking and yeah, we got 10 I gave her my opinion that's about what that amount of 2 and we got pinned at the governor's mansion. That's where we had that in Frankford Earl Clements was the governor and he was also in the same fraternity and he invited our fraternity to the governor's mansion Farah what's going on? I dream girl dance and and that's when I gave you your mother my fraternity pin, which was an unofficial engagement. But I mean it was cheaper than buying them at that was the

34:42 And the fall of the 1950, I guess who the spring up a spring of spring of 1959. We got married then in 1951 in rank not until like a March or April of 51 real engagement ring. And then we got married August 11th of 1950 the baby soon follow a year later September 4th a year later and then my daughter teddi Martha named for my wife's sister Martha Baker Ferguson and then then Stuart Rentals Ferguson. I finally got my son after two girls. And then after that that you were born right and then 10 years later, I guess Philip Ten Years After Carol and years after Carol Wright.

35:42 Years older right? So right and five kids is over Jack's that's a Full House up at hand. When you never try to improve true. Okay, good poker hand three girls and two boys, and then somewhere in the middle of that you got into Public Service of County Judge expect from a farmer Patrick County judge executive Inn Boone County of the term judge and kind of a misnomer. It's really chairman of the County border the Fiscal Court. It's not a Judicial position necessarily.

36:32 And then I lost the first time I ran in 1963, but the guy that beat me died within a year and I was appointed to go on the ballot to take his place and I won in 1964 and ended up serving 22 years is the County judge executive of my life changed into public service. And that's I've always been very public service mine. Anyway and 22 years is County judge-executive in the one Bertrand Jones was elected governor of Kentucky in 1992. I had two years left on my term of office and I had supported him and he appointed me as the commissioner of the Department of local government for the whole state of Kentucky with no, so I worked for years in Frankfort on a job. So that's that's kind of where I am, but has the most significant or memorable experience in your public service or what do dip what defines you could you say that

37:32 So many things when I took office in 1964, we didn't have a water system. We didn't have a police department didn't have a juvenile department. We didn't have a nursing home. We did that. And so I hear I was this young guy full of ideas and all those things came to pass under my Administration, but it's because been kind of busy right through development. That's that's another story right experience serving his butt because of my love of history and

38:05 And the opportunity to do good things for my community. I feel like I achieved a lot in that regard and and go back over things. I'm proud of in 1955 organized what became the big gold neck Historical Society to preserve that land down there and develop the park which came to pass by the greatest degree of difficulty. But my benefit there was happy Chandler. The old family friend was elected governor in 1955 and while he was running I got him to promise that if he was elected it start the park at Big Bone and he was elected. So I kind of blackmail him into getting that part started but I feel like that I know I did a lot of good things while I was having judge-executive the title change from County Judge to County judge-executive when the judicial reform was passed in 1973, I think.

39:06 But those you could write a book a bath or anything that you would do differently. If so many things I would do differently. I can't even number from my mistakes with the yeah. There's a lot of things I would think I would have done differently, but it's over all the moving hand having writ moves on all your piety or Wet Willie racist cuz I don't work on you. I don't look at it life is such an interesting story and it flows into you. You're no matter if you're going to live with whatever happens and if there's no profit and regret

40:05 When I think of you I think of a song that's kind of sums you up in our I think for the children anyway, and it said something about a time to remember that time in September isn't that this reminds me of you so much. You used to sing that all the time and I thought that sounds like this. Yeah life was short days Richard.

40:41 That's from the play Fantasticks thinking that it's time for appreciated music on my life. I got a lot of songs that kind of reflects that resonate part of who you are, right?

40:55 Well, I really appreciate having the opportunity to to have this time with your dad. It's been a tremendous honor to learn more about it. I got too many stories to tell I am I'm running out of time.