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ORAL HISTORY OF JODIE GARDNER
Second Interview, August 10, 2006,
This is Tape 2 of the oral history of Jodie Gardner being conducted for the D.C. Circuit
Mrs. Grigg: All right, Mrs. Gardner, before we go forward, we’re going to go back a little bit
to the year you came out.
Mrs. Gardner: That was quite significant. A portrait painter lived next door. She came to dinner
and she saw me in my black velvet dress.
Mrs. Grigg: So the portrait —
Mrs. Gardner: She wanted to do my portrait in my black velvet dress but my parents didn’t think
they wanted my portrait in black velvet. My coming-out dress was yellow, they
opted for that. It was really fascinating; the artist entertained me the whole time
she was painting. She talked to me and told me her experiences and it was really
Mrs. Grigg: Do you remember her name?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, Adelaide Chase.
Mrs. Grigg: And now that portrait is hanging in your daughter’s house, one of your daughter’s
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. It was in my parents’ house first and then I had it in Spring Valley. Now
Becky has it.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you like it; do you like the way it came out?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes.
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Mrs. Grigg: The yellow dress instead of a white dress for coming-out; it was yellow back
Mrs. Gardner: It was a yellow dress.
Mrs. Grigg: Did you have it custom-made?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, somewhat.
Mrs. Grigg: A seamstress. I realized when we talked last time, I don’t think I got your full
maiden name —
Mrs. Gardner: You actually want the whole thing?
Mrs. Grigg: The whole thing.
Mrs. Gardner: Josephine Vail Perry. Vail was my grandmother’s middle name. My
grandmother’s name was Agnes. Mother didn’t want to name me Agnes so she
gave me Vail. I don’t like Josephine, but I don’t like Agnes either. I guess she
did all right.
Mrs. Grigg: What was your father’s name?
Mrs. Gardner: Arthur Perry.
Mrs. Grigg: And your mother’s name?
Mrs. Gardner: Rebecca Hutton Perry.
Mrs. Grigg: And your grandparents on both sides?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, my grandmother was Agnes Vail Hutton and my grandfather was Finley
Hutton on my mother’s side and on my father’s side my grandmother was Emma
Foster Perry and my grandfather was Arthur Perry.
Mrs. Grigg: Was your dad a junior?
Mrs. Gardner: He was a junior and my brother was the III and my nephew was the IV.
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Mrs. Grigg: Are they continuing the Arthur Perry name?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, my great-nephew.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, I see. Last time we left off, we were about to talk about Adlai Stevenson’s
run for the presidency and your role and your husband’s role in that.
Mrs. Gardner: Well, it all began when Harry Truman announced, I think, in March that he
wasn’t going to run. Then, all the attention centered on Adlai and everyone
flocked to Springfield, all the reporters and from then on he was watched –
everything he did – until the convention, which was in August. And in August –
the convention was in Chicago, which was very nice. He was the governor of
Mrs. Grigg: Yes.
Mrs. Gardner: And Bill Blair was an aide of Adlai. His parents gave their house in Chicago to
host Adlai for the week, and Adlai and Bill and Carl and I and Bill Blair’s butler
— five of us — stayed at this house for the week, which was quite exciting because
outside the door was the press. You couldn’t get in and out, and I couldn’t use
the telephone because Adlai needed it. I left three children in Springfield with a
sitter and I was a little anxious to check in on them. I couldn’t have the
telephone, I couldn’t get out the door, but Bill did help me in that there was a side
door that went to a garden; and on the other side of the garden was his
grandmother’s house. So I could go out there, across the garden, and into the
other house and call up and find out how my children were.
Mrs. Grigg: That’s fabulous.
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Mrs. Gardner: Because that was the only way out. Otherwise, I would never have gotten
through. At the opening of the convention, the last governor of Illinois welcomed
everybody and he gave a fantastic speech. I spent the whole week at the
convention in the governor’s box with his sons. I felt a little bit responsible for
his sons because here was their father, this important man. I don’t know whether
he was divorced by then. Well, Mrs. Stevenson certainly wasn’t anywhere to be
Mrs. Grigg: How old were his sons?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, one was in middle school; I don’t know —
Mrs. Grigg: They were teenagers.
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. But anyway, I don’t think they felt they needed me.
Mrs. Grigg: A little chaperoning?
Mrs. Gardner: I felt a little responsible for them, but they didn’t need me. Anyway, so we lived
there and I guess I must have gone out every day and sat in the box to see what
was going on. Then, all day Friday the voting was going on. Adlai and Carl were
on the second floor writing his acceptance speech; and I was on the third floor by
myself with the television going. And I don’t even understand much about
politics. I thought Kefauver was winning. I was having a fit on the third floor all
by myself. Finally, I came down and found out Mr. Stevenson had been
nominated and this was 1:00 in the morning.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, my goodness.
Mrs. Gardner: It was pretty late. The limousine was waiting outside, so we went out with all
these people screaming and yelling, and Bill put the governor in first so he would
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be next to the window — and then he put me in next and then Carl — I think Bill
was in the jump seat and I think maybe the bodyguard in the front seat. As we
started off, Adlai who had just been nominated to be the president of the United
States, turned to me and said, “You must miss the children terribly.”
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, that was so sweet.
Mrs. Gardner: “Actually, Adlai,” I said, “I don’t miss them at all.” I didn’t say Adlai, I called
him Governor. “Governor, I don’t miss them at all.” So we went through the
streets, you know, people yelling and it was very exciting and got to the
stockyards where the convention was held. You know, it was terribly late but
everybody was there. It was exciting.
Mrs. Grigg: You had been watching it at the Blair house?
Mrs. Gardner: Right.
Mrs. Grigg: And then went down to the convention?
Mrs. Gardner: Right.
Mrs. Grigg: Wow, and so he gave his acceptance speech at 1:30 in the morning?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, which was too bad in a way because a lot of people missed it because they
had gone to bed.
Mrs. Gardner: Right.
Mrs. Gardner: My aunt, who is a loyal Stevenson person, was watching on TV. She saw me in
the box. My parents had long since gone to bed. Besides, they were Republicans.
The next day I took the train back to Springfield to my children. Carl stayed
because they had to nominate the vice president and they returned to Springfield
on Sunday. From then on it was just wild. Carl spent all his time traveling and
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working on the campaign. I went on a wonderful campaign trip. We went to
Hyde Park and Mrs. Roosevelt was on the platform to greet the governor, and we
went to the Roosevelt home and out to the garden. I think FDR was in the garden
and there was a little ceremony there. Then we went through the house. And that
was pretty incredible, seeing that house.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, yes.
Mrs. Gardner: There was a rally in New York. Then we went across Massachusetts whistlestopping. The governor of Massachusetts had no wife but he had a sister and the
sister was my responsibility. Oh, on the train, the governor had the last car; so,
again, it was the governor, Bill Blair, Bill’s butler, Carl and me – the same five
people were in that car all the way across Massachusetts. But I had to sit at the
table with the Massachusetts governor’s sister all the way, which was quite a
strain. Also, Bogie and Lauren Bacall were on the train; so, whenever we came to
a stop – there was always a stop – they were in some car further up and they
would walk through to be on the platform with Adlai. His sister was also on the
train, but I don’t think she was ever with them, just Bogie and Lauren – anyway,
finally, we got to Boston.
My parents knew we were coming to Boston, so they were waiting for us. Adlai’s
party was going to the Statler Hotel, so my parents were on the street corner
outside the Statler Hotel. When we arrived in Boston, Carl and – well, I should
say, the governor and Carl – went in the limousine and I was put in another
limousine with James Michael Curley – do you remember him? He was the
governor of Massachusetts who ended up in prison.
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Mrs. Grigg: Could you say on the tape why he had gone to prison, do you recall?
Mrs. Gardner: No. He was a big Democrat and my parents were big Republicans. So, they were
standing on the corner to greet us and along comes the limousine and out comes
the governor; and, in a little while, out comes another limousine with their
daughter and James Michael Curley. It was quite a shock to them. The crowd
was all yelling for Curley so he pushed himself up so he was sitting on the back
of the seat and could wave to everybody. That was quite amusing. Then I went
home with my parents to 10 Marlborough Street. Carl stayed at the hotel with the
governor’s party. The next night they all came to dinner at my parents’ house,
which was pretty exciting. All of the governor’s party and all my brothers and
sisters, and this aunt who was for him. It was good fun; it was a nice party.
Mrs. Grigg: Your parents were able to entertain a Democrat?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, they were, they were. In fact, when it came to vote, my mother was crazy
about Eisenhower so she was going to vote for Eisenhower. My father said
mother all his life had voted with him and done other votes the way he had told
her. He said, “I can’t vote against her but I can’t vote against Carl either, so I’m
not going to vote.”
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, that’s interesting.
Mrs. Gardner: Well, the next day we got on the train again and went through Connecticut. He
didn’t do so well in Connecticut. There was a rally where we were a little
disappointed in Bridgeport, or someplace like that. Then we went back to New
York. Well, I can’t really remember – then we were heading toward Illinois and
there was a prison riot in Illinois.
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Mrs. Gardner: Oh, my goodness.
Mrs. Gardner: The governor got off the train, didn’t tell anybody, with Carl. They flew to
wherever the riot was, but they didn’t tell anybody because the train went on and
Mr. Fulbright – Bill Fulbright, I think – sort of took over and spoke to the crowds
because Adlai wasn’t there. When I got back to Chicago – of course, Carl wasn’t
with me – so I went back to Springfield.
Mrs. Grigg: Did you do any campaign swings through the South?
Mrs. Gardner: No, I didn’t.
Mrs. Grigg: Did Carl go on all of them?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, he went on all of them. They usually flew; I mean, this whistle-stopping was
Mrs. Grigg: Was there a problem that there wasn’t a Mrs. Stevenson? Did the press make a
big deal out of the fact that there was no Mrs. Stevenson present?
Mrs. Gardner: No, they didn’t; they didn’t. I remember at one point we were in New Jersey and
the governor got kidnapped by —
Mrs. Grigg: Kidnapped?
Mrs. Gardner: Some candidate who was running, I guess, came and swept him away. I mean,
we were all sitting there and these people actually – I was with future governor
Harriman. He and I were left. Carl went off with the governor and somebody
that Harriman was with, I guess, went off and he and I were sort of stranded at
this luncheon in a tent. Very odd things happen in politics, you know.
Mrs. Grigg: Where did they take him? Where did they take the governor?
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Mrs. Gardner: I don’t know. They took him away somewhere, talked to him, and then they
brought him back.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, okay.
Mrs. Gardner: What they wanted was his attention and that’s how they got his attention, by just
swooping him away. It was odd.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you think that —
Mrs. Gardner: I think that was the only time that happened.
Mrs. Grigg: I hope so. Do you remember any of the dirty tricks that were played? Did you
come across any of the opposition politics? Was it more subtle than it is today?
Mrs. Gardner: Perhaps. Of course, you know, Eisenhower was a nice guy.
Mrs. Grigg: Right.
Mrs. Gardner: I don’t think Carl ever thought that they were going to win, really, and they
didn’t. Anyway, on election night, we went to dinner at the mansion; but, by the
time we got there Connecticut had already gone for Eisenhower – so we pretty
much knew before dinner that it was all over. We had dinner there with the
governor. Carl went with him over to the hotel to make his concession speech.
Mrs. Grigg: Did he make it before all the states were in, or did he wait until the West Coast
voting came in?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, there’s no question he made it before.
Mrs. Grigg: Why did your husband think all along he wouldn’t make it?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, I think he had a feeling – a good feeling about the country and he just didn’t
think the country was ready for Adali.. A friend of ours, Keith Kane, – Carl had
worked for him in the Navy – had flown out to Chicago because he wanted to be
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there when Adlai won. He was a great man. He was going to take a plane to
Springfield to be with Adlai, but he realized that Adlai was defeated. But he got
in a taxi and the taxi driver said, “Oh no, Stevenson won,” and so Keith went to
the airport and came to Springfield only to find that Stevenson had lost. But the
next day he came to see me to bring me a dozen long red roses!
Mrs. Grigg: Oh.
Mrs. Gardner: I remember specifically it was quite touching.
Mrs. Grigg: That was very sweet.
Mrs. Gardner: It was sad. To recover from this —
Mrs Grigg: I was about to ask.
Mrs. Gardner: The governor went to a ranch in Arizona and Carl and I went with him, and I
think we had the mayor of Louisville and his wife with us. We were going to go
on the teeny bitty coal company plane. So we went down and picked up the
mayor, Wilson Wyatt, and his wife. Then we were flying out, and we were flying
over the mountains and all of a sudden – we were in a small plane, there were just
five of us passengers and the pilot and the copilot – the pilot opened the door and
said, “The copilot has passed out.” So Carl and Adlai got up and dragged his body
in the back. I had left three children at home and I thought if the copilot fainted,
well, maybe the pilot might faint, too.
Mrs. Grigg: That would be scary.
Mrs. Gardner: I was not very happy, but we made it to Tucson and we stayed at the ranch in
Tucson for a few days to recover.
Mrs. Grigg: Did Carl stay on with the governor?
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Mrs. Gardner: Well, this is November, you see, the election and his term was up in January. It
was so sad and we took him to the train and he left on – I don’t know what date in
January it was. He came to lunch, actually, because the new governor came right
to the mansion and all his people were spreading out before the Stevensons had
left, which was pretty unpleasant. The Stevensons all came over to our house and
I think I had a ham; I gave everybody ham sandwiches. Stevenson’s sister, Mrs.
Ives, was a very close friend of mine. She was one fine lady. She came. We
took them to the train and my daughters went too; they were five and seven,
something like that. I had a little boy and this is the only time I ever did this; I
left him alone in the house. He was in his crib. I did knock on the neighbor’s
door and tell them that he was alone, but this was just something we had to do.
We took the governor to the train and it was one of the children – I don’t know if
it was Becky or Mary – but she looked up at Mrs. Ives and said, “Will I ever see
Mrs. Grigg: Oh.
Mrs. Gardner: Mrs. Ives was very touched. She wrote a book about her life and she put that in
the book. That was sad.
Mrs. Grigg: And did you see the governor again?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, yes, many times but not as governor – his term was up. Carl went to
Chicago and started working in a law firm; and, as usual, I had to find a house. I
found a great house in Winnetka so we moved there for several years and were
Mrs. Grigg: What was the name of the law firm, do you recall?
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Mrs. Gardner: It ended up with Carl’s name but I can’t remember the name now.
Mrs. Grigg: How long was he at the law firm before you moved to Washington?
Mrs. Gardner: About ten years.
Mrs. Grigg: Okay, so now you’re living in Chicago and you have three children?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, and it was a great place to live, Winnetka. I had my fourth child there.
Winnetka was on the lake and so there’s a beach in the summer. We’d go to the
beach every day. It had great public schools. The children could walk to school.
It was really a wonderful place to bring up children; I loved it. We had a lot of
very good friends. And Carl could take the train into the office every day. He did
eventually become a name partner. He also became the general counsel for the
North Western Railroad, so he had two offices on opposite sides of the Loop, one
at his law firm and one at the railroad. He was a busy man but a very happy man.
Mrs. Grigg: Was his practice general, just giving general business advice?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, yes.
Mrs. Grigg: Back then lawyers didn’t specialize as much as they do now. Did you have to
socialize a lot with the spouses of this law firm?
Mrs. Gardner: Not so much with the law firm. We had a lot of friends on the south side at the
University of Chicago Law School. We used to go down to the south side often.
The president of the railroad was a close friend, so we saw him a lot. Those were
Mrs. Grigg: Did you have your fourth – you have four children, right?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, I had my fourth child there. We went out to California and Carl taught for a
month at Stanford. It was great fun. We rented a house and we took our friend’s
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cleaning lady along as a babysitter, which was very important to have. So that
was a happy event in our lives. And we would go back to New England — back to
see my parents – every August. They had moved to the country. Finally, we
went to Dover and got off the train at Framingham and my father and his
chauffeur met us. I remember Daddy sitting in the front seat and we were in the
back. He leaned back and said, “Oh, I got a lot of calls from the press all
morning. They want to talk to Carl.” When we got home, when we were sitting at
the table at lunch, and the phone rang and Carl went and came back. He said,
“I’ve taken the veil,” meaning he had accepted the judgeship. Did he ever ask me
how I felt?
Mrs. Grigg: What did you say?
Mrs. Gardner: Never in all the years of our moving here and there did he ask me. Then we went
through a difficult period because he was not confirmed because the head of the
Senate committee was mad at Bobby Kennedy for some reason, and he was
darned if he was going to accept Bobby’s appointment.
Mrs. Grigg: Confirm.
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. He wasn’t going to do that for Bobby Kennedy, so Carl was in limbo.
Nobody wanted to give him any law practice because he was about to leave. But
anyway, in January his appointment died – but Kennedy reappointed him again
and he was finally confirmed in March.
Mrs. Grigg: Can we go back a little bit to the discussions that led up to this. I’m going to put
this on stop for a moment. There we go. Before he got the call at your parents’
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place, had there been lots of discussions? Had people – someone from
Washington – come and interviewed him in Chicago?
Mrs. Gardner: No.
Mrs. Grigg: How did his name rise to the top?
Mrs. Gardner: His name had been floating around. The Seventh Circuit is in Chicago and there
had been some talk he might be going to the Seventh Circuit. There is a funny
story. There was a man in Washington who thought he had the appointment to
the D.C. Circuit. Everybody thought he was going to get it. But he had the
misfortune of sitting next to Bobby Kennedy at dinner one night and after that
dinner Bobby Kennedy said that man is never going to be a federal judge.
Mrs. Grigg: Okay.
Mrs. Gardner: The funny thing about that man is that he turned out in the end to be the partner
of my second husband.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh, small world.
Mrs. Gardner: My second husband never knew that story until I told him. He said, “It was very
odd. We thought that my partner was going to be appointed a judge and we were
adjusting our lives and then he wasn’t.” I said, “No, he wasn’t. It’s a lucky thing
because my husband would not have met you and I never would’ve married you.”
So that was quite funny. Anyway, when Carl came down here – he came down
by himself because, of course, as usual, I was going to have to come and find a
house – but he came down by himself and he was very lonely and it was so
different. He had been so busy with these two jobs, with the telephone ringing
every minute or so, and the life of a judge is very different and he was miserable
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at first. But anyway, I did come down and we bought a house but we couldn’t
have it for a few months. We moved in August and bit by bit things began to pick
up so that he loved the job.
Mrs. Grigg: Now, the house you bought, is this the house in Spring Valley?
Mrs. Gardner: Right.
Mrs. Grigg: And what street was that on?
Mrs. Gardner: Quebec Street. Well, as I say, he did love it and he was a very good judge.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you want to tell any stories from those days when he first came to
Washington and getting into the Washington social scene?
Mrs. Gardner: The first thing we did, David Acheson, who was Dean Acheson’s son, was
interested in Carl for some reason, so he invited us out to his parents’ country
place for dinner and that was my introduction to Washington elite. I found that
very interesting having dinner with Dean Acheson, who was a charming man.
Carl became quite devoted to him and they used to have lunch. Well, David
Bazelon was chief judge so they had a dinner for us because I didn’t know
anybody. It was a little overwhelming and then some of the others had us for
dinner, so I got to know the court. Other people gave parties, so we did quite a bit
Mrs. Grigg: Was Judge McGowan close with his clerks – his law clerks?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, very.
Mrs. Grigg: Were there annual dinners or picnics?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, yes. He had an annual dinner at the Metropolitan Club with the clerks, and
then the next day, Saturday, I had them all to lunch with their wives. At the
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beginning, wives didn’t go to the dinner. I think maybe at the end the wives were
going. Of course, at the end, he had woman law clerks, but he didn’t at first. He
loved his clerks and they loved him.
Mrs. Grigg: All right. I’m going to stop for today. This ends Tape 2.
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