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September 29, 2009

Chairman of the Good Life Committee: An Interview with Bob Lacy

In the late 1990s, Oregon Law Professor Emeritus Don Brodie conducted a series of interviews with the late Professor Emeritus Frank Robert Lacy, who passed away September 21. Professor Lacy’s memorial service will take place at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 10, at Cascade Manor, in the Auditorium. Cascade Manor is located at 65 West 30th Avenue in Eugene.

Below is Part I Professor Brodie’s interview text:

MR. BRODIE: This is November the 11th, and we are in Bob Lacy’s office at the Law School. Perhaps we could get started by your telling us where and when you were born.

PROFESSOR LACY: In 1921, Don, in Dubuque, Iowa. September 16, if you’re interested. Later on that became the date on which the federal rules were promulgated so there are two reasons for it being famous in legal history.

MR. BRODIE: What did your parents do?

PROFESSOR LACY: My father was a lawyer, as was his father and his grandfather. My mother had been a librarian in New York City and the thing she always talked about was that she had cataloged the private library of Louis Tiffany who made Tiffany lamps, the famous jeweler.

MR. BRODIE: Did you have brothers or sisters?

PROFESSOR LACY: I had three older sisters and a younger brother. The younger brother is, or was,–he’s retired, too, -quite a prominent lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts.

MR. BRODIE: Did you have uncles that were lawyers, too?

PROFESSOR LACY: No, my great grandfather, grandfather and my father and myself and my brother. My brother has a son who was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and is a partner in Sullivan and Cromwell now. So it is a legal family.

MR. BRODIE: Let’s see. You went to Harvard undergraduate, what did you major in at Harvard?

PROFESSOR LACY: Chemistry, oddly enough.

MR. BRODIE: Was it the family that drew you into law then?

PROFESSOR LACY: No. It really wasn’t. I think when I was in high school and college nothing was farther from my mind, than that I wanted to be a lawyer. But I left college to go to war in the middle of my senior year, I came back three years later and got married and finished up my senior year of college in summer school. I went to law school the way many people did, as sort of the line of least resistance I think. It’s hard for me to really think back to those days, but I don’t think I was seized with any burning ambition to be a lawyer. My father was still in practice then and so by going to law school I was, you know, assured of employment. And I had just gotten married. I honestly don’t know if it was on that basis or just not being able to think of anything else to do.

MR. BRODIE: Where did your military take you?

PROFESSOR LACY: I was in the Air Force, and the overseas part was on Guam, I was in a B-29 squadron.

MR. BRODIE: Were you part of the flight crew?

PROFESSOR LACY: No, no. I’m a feet on the ground fellow.

MR. BRODIE: After you finished law school, did you come directly out here to teach?

PROFESSOR LACY: No. I did practice with my father for a year. It was not an unhappy experience, but I don’t think that’s a good way to go, going into practice with your father. I liked and respected my father, but it did not work out terribly well. And so, in the spring of 1949 I started looking around for something else to do. Jonnie and I wanted to live, originally, on the East Coast as she comes from Massachusetts, and of course, I had gone to school there. But we wanted to go to one coast or the other. I don’t know if I explored any possibilities back east or not, that’s a much harder thing to break into. I remember I talked to one of my professors, Frank Kennedy, who had taught creditor’s rights at Iowa, a course I had done very well in. We talked about places to go, and just by coincidence that day, the day I went to see him, he had gotten a letter from a classmate of mine named Bill Hollen who had come out here to Newport, Oregon. I think his wife came from Newport. He had written a letter to Frank Kennedy painting a glowing picture of his practice in Newport and the delights of living in Oregon. He was just a year out of law school, same as I was. That was really the origin of the idea of coming to Oregon.

MR. BRODIE: On the basis of, so to speak, a classmate’s recommendation.

PROFESSOR LACY: Essentially. I think I did call Hollen. He was not a particularly close friend of mine, no more than an acquaintance. Classes were very big at Iowa those days, but I knew him alright. So I think I did call him up and ask him about things. He had a son who was one of our students a few years ago.

MR. BRODIE: So you headed west. How did you arrive at the law school?

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, I guess probably on this same occasion when I was in Iowa City, going to see Frank Kennedy, I went down to talk to Mason Ladd who was the Dean of the Law School. I was talking with him too about what I should do with my life and so forth. He asked me if I had ever thought of teaching, which I hadn’t. And he said, “Well, it’s a nice life and I think I might possibly be able to do something for you at the University of Oregon, because I know Dean Hollis out there. He said he would be glad to write a letter for me. And so, at this point I was, looking around for anything, so I said “great.” And I wrote a letter to Dean Hollis myself suggesting the possibility of a teaching job. I had no answer. This must have been in, I suppose, April that this trip to Iowa City happened. Then I had written to a lot of other lawyers in Oregon, I got out Martindale and Hubbell and looked up firms in Portland and on the coast. Looking back on it, this was very unrealistic because neither Jonnie or I had ever been to Oregon and had no idea what the Oregon coast was like. I wrote to lawyers in Newport and Tillamook and Coos Bay and a number of them had written back saying yes, they would be very glad to talk with me and so forth. I applied to take the Oregon bar in July and came out, took the bar, and called on a lot of these lawyers. I think I drove through Eugene, but I didn’t bother to come to the law school, because I hadn’t had any answer from the letter I had written to Dean Hollis. Actually I had made a decision to go into practice in Bandon, which would have been a total disaster, if it had happened. I think I had rented an office for $25 a month or something of that sort. Then summer passed and in mid-September we got ready to move out here. Either the day or two days before we were to leave I had a telephone call from Dean Hollis saying he had this letter from me and I guess he said something about hearing from Dean Ladd, I don’t really remember, and would I be interested in teaching at Oregon? And he named a figure $3600. That sounds terrible now, but considering what I was earning then, what I could expect to earn by just hanging my shingle out, it really sounded princely. So I said, “Well, I’ve made these other plans, but it’s an interesting offer. Let me think about it a little bit.” He said, “All right, I’ll call you back tomorrow at this same time.” And so he called back and increased the figure. I decided almost immediately that I would take the job. And so that was it, that’s how it happened.

MR. BRODIE: You’d come out earlier to take the bar here?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes.

MR. BRODIE: In those days, was there a bar review course?

PROFESSOR LACY: No, no. How did I go about it? I guess I had my law school notes. There used to be a book, a little book, not as big as a case book, half as big as a case book, that purported to cover the entire field of law. It had chapters on torts and contracts and all those things and I read that. Of course, it was terribly superficial, but then the bar exam was fairly superficial. So I passed the bar exam, all right. Actually, I’m not even sure there was a bar review course in those days.

MR. BRODIE: Did you drive out?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes. I drove out with another classmate of mine at
Iowa who just wanted to come along for the ride.

MR. BRODIE: What courses did you teach when you came out that first year?

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, I taught criminal law, first year criminal law, and a course that no longer exists that was called Equity II. That covered a lot of the material that George Platt now covers in secured land, that is land sale contracts, that was about half of it as I recall, and it also covered some of the stuff that is now in remedies. We were on a term system then, criminal law went for two terms. I taught Equity II in the fall and then I must have picked up Creditor’s Rights as my other course in winter term. Then in the Spring of that first year I taught nine hours. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I know one of those early years I taught three courses in spring term. They would have been Equity I, and Domestic Relations, and Insurance, I think.

MR. BRODIE: That’s a heavy load.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, but you see, there were only five people on the faculty then, Dean Hollis, Charlie Howard, Kenneth O’Connell, Ed Morton, who died about the fifth year I was here, and myself. And yet, apart from Dean Hollis, we did not teach any more hours except for that nine hour term which was an aberration. Other than that, I’d say our class hours per week load was not different than what we have now. Typically you had two courses of two or three hours, I don’t think there were many four hour courses in those days. There were some, but it was seven at most, and sometimes only five hours a week.

MR. BRODIE: Was the Law School still experiencing its veteran return growth?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes. I think there were 70 in the first year class the year I started teaching, the fall of ’49. That’s not as big we are now, but a lot bigger than it was a few years later. I think the preceding year, the people that were second year students by the time I came along, I think there had been over 100 in that class. Of that 70 I believe 20 graduated.

MR. BRODIE: That was look to the left, look to the right days.

PROFESSOR LACY: That’s right. There were good people in that class. Bill Love was in that first class, Dale Pederson, Ken Poole. A young woman by the name of Pat Young who was a very good student. I don’t know what became of her. Ed O’Reilley, practices here in Eugene still. The class ahead, the people that were second year students when I came, included Ted Goodwin and Walter Probert, who I think is a professor at the University of Florida. Jim Harrang was in that class, and Don Sanders who was a judge in Roseburg for a long time. Quite a class!

MR. BRODIE: At the end of your first year of teaching had, you decided to make a commitment of teaching?

PROFESSOR LACY: Oh yes. I had no doubts about wanting to go on.

MR. BRODIE: That was a fairly powerful faculty, historically.

PROFESSOR LACY: It was. When I told you about that hour load business, the exception was Orlando who taught much more. Orlando had lots of strong points, but hiring faculty was not one of them. So we were chronically understaffed, we could have had more than five, there were unfilled positions but he simply could not go out and hire people. Courses had to be taught, they were practically all required courses, and I guess he felt that he couldn’t ask other people to teach them. It really was his fault; we didn’t have a hiring committee, that was the dean’s job in those days. So he’d teach them all himself. I think the first term I was here, he was teaching Common Law Pleading, and Corporations, Evidence, and Conflict.

MR. BRODIE: In addition to his administration of the school and other activities.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, it was incredible.

MR. BRODIE: When did you move into the procedure area as one of your specialties?

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, to fill you in on my career, I taught here for four or five, four years I guess, and then at Dean Hollis’ urging, I did a year’s graduate work at NYU. What was your year at NYU?

MR. BRODIE: I came in the fall of ’58.

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, this was ’53-’54, not too long before. I started on a J.S.D. program. Then I came back and I taught in the law school in ’54-’55. This was really a low point. The law school enrollment was very, very low, and the quality of the students wasn’t all that good. I don’t know, I got kind of bored with things, perhaps. Also, perhaps, I had a feeling that I really didn’t know an awful lot about law practice. Anyway, I resigned from the faculty at the end of June ’55 and went downtown. I was downtown for about two years, a little over two years. I came back in the fall of ’57. Part of the inducement to come back, although it didn’t take much to induce me back, I was very glad to come back, was the chance to teach torts and evidence. Ed Morton had been the torts teacher until he died in the spring of ’54, so there really wasn’t any regular torts teacher and there hadn’t been a regular evidence teacher since before I came. I think Orlando had generally taught it, but it wasn’t a regular course of his, so he was glad to give me those courses. I taught torts and evidence for, well it must have been about 10 years. Actually I continued to teach Evidence for a long time and I taught Torts for about ten years. Then by 1966, shortly before you came, by this time, the school had started to grow quite dramatically. The first year class was up above 100 by then and the faculty had grown. It was still pretty small, but there were seven or eight of us by this time. Anyway, in 1966 we had decided to have a large section and a small section of each first year course. This was probably still going when you came. That meant that we needed another procedure teacher and I took the small procedure section. So I taught that for a while, and then soon after that Herb Titus came and he and I both taught Torts for a while. Then when Dom came he took one Torts section and I continued to teach evidence and civil procedure. About this time I got back into Creditor’s Rights which I had taught earlier. Count had taught it for awhile, but, I started teaching it again and that equity II course kept going for quite a while. Oh, that’s all so long ago. But the short answer to your questions is, I started teaching Civil Procedure in 1966.

MR. BRODIE: The two years that you spent downtown, what was the firm?

PROFESSOR LACY: Darling and Vonderheidt. It’s now the Hershner, Hunter firm.

MR. BRODIE: It developed into quite a firm.

PROFESSOR LACY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

MR. BRODIE: How large was the firm then?

PROFESSOR LACY: There were just three of us. Stan Darling and Otto Vonderheit were the partners and I was the associate. Then let’s see, the second year I was there, a young woman, Betsy Risley, one of our graduates came in. So there were four of us by that time. But there weren’t any big law firms in Eugene in those days. Darling and Vonderheit had been started by Kenneth O’Connell and Stan Darling who had been, I think, a student in O’Connell’s class the first year that O’Connell was a teacher. He graduated in about 1936. He had been a government lawyer, a federal government lawyer. He and Kenneth started this firm. Wayne Morse was nominally a partner. I don’t believe he ever actually functioned, but his name was on the letterhead. Morse, O’Connell and Darling. That was the original name of the firm. Kenneth’s career followed much the same pattern as mine, and maybe this is sort of why I went down town: I was emulating him. He had come here in about 1936 or so, and then taught until, during the war, early ’40s. Then he had left the school and gone downtown and started this law firm, and then had come back. I don’t know how long he was downtown, it was probably about the same as I was, about two or three years. Just enough to learn which side your bread is buttered on. When he left, Otto Vonderheit came in and later they had hired Ted Goodwin. The occasion for my going downtown was Ted Goodwin being appointed to Circuit Court. When I left and came back here, Jim Hershner was hire
d as my replacement. It went on from there. Stan and Otto were very good lawyers, very good lawyers. I learned a lot from practicing with them.

MR. BRODIE: In those years with a smaller faculty, life in the law school for faculty was much different, much more interchange, I gather.

PROFESSOR LACY: Oh, yes. We were in Fenton Hall, of course, in those days. The faculty probably was more closely knit, also, there was much more interchange between the law faculty and the general university faculty. The general university faculty was probably no more than a couple hundred. I know the first faculty meeting I attended was in the big room, room 3 in the basement of Fenton Hall, which probably doesn’t hold more than 100, maybe 150 tops. And yet, the whole faculty, or all those who came to meeting, and university faculty meetings used to be very well attended. They aren’t now, I haven’t been to one in years. But people used to go to faculty meetings. Fenton Hall was pretty much the center of the campus, and not out on the fringe the way we are now. It was right across the street from the faculty club. Charlie Howard, Kenneth, I, and Ed Morton used to regularly, about 10:00 in the morning, go over and have a cup of coffee in the faculty club and there would be people from other departments there. We would talk with them about this and that, University affairs, the World Series, and so on. Also, the law faculty figured very heavily in university governance. Orlando was the chairman of the faculty senate for years and years and years. Kenneth and Charlie Howard were big men on campus, they were always elected, elected to the senate at large. The Law School had to elect somebody as its representative, and they elected me, because I was the only person left. Thus the faculty senate was 28 people, four of them from the law school faculty. It was interesting. The faculty senate used to be a much more important body than it is now. I can remember being quite interested in what was going on in the faculty senate. I don’t know if this is true or not anymore, I don’t think it is, but matters were debated, and at a pretty high level of debate, I thought. Things accepted by the faculty senate, ordinarily the full faculty would adopt, not always, but generally. It was meaningful.

MR. BRODIE: Charles Howard was a prolific member of this faculty in terms of publication.

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, was he? He had a business law textbook that he was coauthor of that was widely adopted. I think Charlie made more from his royalties than he did from his salary at the Law School. And he had published, before I came, Oregon annotations to the Restatement of Contracts. After I came, and by that time he was in his middle or late fifties, I don’t think he was publishing much then. But he had before. He was the editor of the law review. We had a faculty editor of the law review in those days. He was a character.

MR. BRODIE: What are some of your recollections of him?

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, he was a, he was a violent prohibitionist. He pushed this idea constantly, and of course, did not find a great deal of acceptance elsewhere. We used to ride him quite a bit about this. I always used to tell him, if he drank, he shouldn’t drive. I’d say that to him every night as he was going home, “If you drink, don’t drive.” He had quite an explosive temper. The thing is, he didn’t need to drink. For most of us, it livens things up if we have a drink or two. Charlie was that way all the time. Students loved him, he was a good teacher. He didn’t have the keenest analytical mind, he wasn’t in it with O’Connell. But especially on the level of first year students, he struck the right note, I think he made things pretty clear to them on a first year level, and that’s probably what first year students need. I don’t know, I guess I can’t think of any anecdotes, I wish I could. But he was a character all right.

MR. BRODIE: During at least the early part of your teaching career the Law School was essentially a dean-driven model.

PROFESSOR LACY: Oh, entirely, but all law schools were in those days. All law schools were. Five sounds like a terribly inadequate faculty, and it was, it would have been much better with about six or seven. But there were a lot of state law schools, small ones, you know that had no larger faculties. Even when I was at Iowa, and again this was during the post war period when they had large classes, I suspect there were four or five hundred people in the law school when I was there, I don’t think there were more than twelve, thirteen, fourteen people on the faculty. I remember reading just a week ago a letter to the Oregonian, or the New York Times, regarding the Thomas confirmation and recalling that there had also been quite a to-do when Louis Brandeis was nominated to the Court by President Wilson, in 1916 or 1917, and remarking that all eleven members of the Harvard Law School faculty except for Felix Frankfurter had come out against Brandeis. Of course, that’s back in World War I time, but when I went to NYU in 1953, I doubt if there were more then 20 on the regular faculty. They had a lot of adjuncts. We used to have lunch at the faculty club there in Washington Square. There was a big round table that was by common understanding reserved for the law faculty. You might have been able to squeeze 10 people around it and I recall that as being most of the faculty. You probably knew some of them. There were Bob McKay, that was his first year there, Bert Sparks it was about his second year, Herb Peterfreund, Elmer Million, Francis Putman, and Laurence Simpson. Russell Niles was the Dean, Ralph Bischoff was, the associate dean or something like that. They were very good to me. I was only a teaching fellow but they accepted me as essentially as an equal, you know, urged me to come to these lunches at the faculty club. So, how’d I get on to this? I guess, my point is that law faculty didn’t used to be so big.

And yes, the dean, he did all the hiring. Certainly this was the case at Iowa. On the subject of this being a dean-driven faculty, I think all schools were. While I was at Iowa, my freshman year, there probably were oh maybe about 10, and then at one point Dean Ladd went off and two weeks later he came back and he had hired four people. That’s the way law faculties were built.

MR. BRODIE: I gather the transition to a more faculty driven model was a national movement that was experienced here. Was that in the mid-60s?

PROFESSOR LACY: Mid-60’s. We first had a faculty appointments committee about 1965 or ’66 or something of that sort. And I think, yes, that was happening all over the country about that time.

MR. BRODIE: You went on to get your LL.M from NYU and your J.S.D.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes.

MR. BRODIE: Not very many people do that now.

PROFESSOR LACY: No. No, I wonder if anybody does any more. It used to be much more common. When I evaluate candidates for faculty appointments, I’m an awful lot more impressed by what they’ve done in practice.

MR. BRODIE: Did you spend additional time in residence at NYU?

PROFESSOR LACY: No, I spent a calendar year, I was there the academic year and the summer. I was still taking courses. I did it in two semesters and a summer school. I don’t know if you could get 15 hours in, because I was also a teaching fellow, but whatever it was. I did all the course work then. Then there was the matter of writing a thesis which took me forever. I came back here for a year and then resigned from the faculty and forgot about getting a degree. Then when I came back, I spent a year or so deciding on a topic and started working on it. Pretty soon after that I got involved in a Ford Foundation program which consumed all my available time outside of teaching. I completed the course work in ’54 (?) You didn’t get an LL.M in those days, if you were aiming at a J.S.D. But soon after I left, they decided they would give people sort of a courtesy LL.M just for doing the course work. I went to an AALS meeting in San Francisco, I guess this was at Chr
istmas time 1957. I was riding in an elevator with Francis Putman who was the dean of the graduate program. And he said, “Did we ever give you an LL.M.” I said, “Well no.” “Well I’ll get one for you.” So that’s how I got my LL.M. And pretty soon along came a nice diploma in the mail.

MR. BRODIE: What was the subject of your thesis?

PROFESSOR LACY: It was “Creditors of Vendors and Purchasers.” This grew out of teaching the equity II course. Under an executory land sale contract, you know, the purchaser is considered the equitable owner and the vendor the legal title holder, but it’s really just a security title. When this concept collides with conventional debtor creditor law, it produces some strange consequences. I figured that could be milked for a J.S.D. dissertation, and it was, and a couple of publishable articles, along the way, but it took me an awful long time.

MR. BRODIE: Was NYU a deliberate choice?

PROFESSOR LACY: They offered me more money. I applied at, I think, Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford and they all accepted me and actually offered support, but the level of support at NYU was three times what any of the others offered. I think I probably earned just about as much, maybe as much, as a teaching fellow as I was earning here as an assistant professor.

MR. BRODIE: A little bit of a culture shock going from Eugene to New York City and back again.

PROFESSOR LACY: Oh yes, although I’d been there before. It was very pleasant in Greenwich Village in those days. We had three children by that time. We lived in Harrison, New York which is about forty, forty-five minutes out, just past Rye. This meant getting up very early in the morning and getting home late at night. What teaching fellows did ordinarily was teach legal bibliography. However, some member of the faculty had gotten ill, very ill, at the last minute. And so Bob McKay, who had been assigned a course in Domestic Relations, was told to teach Constitutional Law. And, since I had taught Domestic Relations a couple of times out here, Dean Niles said, “Well, you teach a course in Domestic Relations.” Which greatly increased the work load. The point was I had to get there in the morning, and the courses I was taking in the J.S.D. program were all night courses. So I would come early in the morning and be there until 9 or 10:00 at night and then take the train back out to Harrison. By that time the last bus had left and Jonnie would have to come down and meet me. It was very unpleasant. After two or three weeks of this we went up to Madison, Connecticut, which is out a couple towns beyond New Haven to see one of my college room mates who was a beginning history teacher at Yale. They had a delightful place. I mean, Madison is a nice New England town and this looked like a great life. So they said, why don’t you come back up here next week and we’ll take care of your kids and you go and find a place to rent. So we did and we found a terrific place in Branford which is the town immediately east of New Haven, a wonderful place, right on Long Island Sound. It was a summer cottage that belonged to a doctor from Meriden, Connecticut and they rented it to us very, very reasonably, $100 a month or something like that. I had arranged to have a little pad in New York. There were a bunch of ratty old buildings on, I guess it was Sullivan Street, that were dormitories. They had been tenements. And so I had just a dormitory room, in the place on Sullivan Street where I would spend Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night and just walk across the street to the Law School. It couldn’t have been more convenient. Then I would take the train back out to Branford on Friday afternoon and come back Monday morning. That was great.

MR. BRODIE: You were away from the law school in practice downtown for a couple of years.

PROFESSOR LACY: Two Years.

MR. BRODIE: Then you came back to the Law School. Did you ever think of going elsewhere to teach?

PROFESSOR LACY: Not really, because we like Eugene a lot. As a matter of fact I was asked to come to the University of Washington at that time, just as a visitor, but I guess I’d already told Orlando I’d teach here. So no I really didn’t. If I had not been able to come back here, I expect I would of looked around, but the problem didn’t arise.

MR. BRODIE: You mentioned that you were a Ford Foundation Fellow.

PROFESSOR LACY: In 1959 the NYU inaugurated this program of summer courses for young teachers. The first one I went to, and I think the first one they had, was in Evidence. There were about 15 or 20 of us. People who had been teaching the subject for just a year or two. Then there was the faculty which consisted of Judson Falkner, Leo Levin, Charles McCormick, and John McNaughton, big names in the field. For three weeks we sat around a table and talked about cases that would be covered in a typical course. That was a very, very valuable thing. I was talking with Ibrahim about this the other day and I don’t think it exists anymore, but they were great programs for a beginning teacher. At this summer program for Evidence teachers in 1959 one of the other young teachers was a fellow called Francis Sullivan. We used to go out and eat together. A few years later, in 1962 I guess, I got a letter from him one day saying that he had very good prospects of getting a grant from the Ford Foundation to institute a comparative law program. Would I like to take part in it? What it would involve would be spending four consecutive summers going abroad to a different country, and ideally a different continent, each year. There were to be five of us and we would cover the entire globe this way. The idea was to find materials in foreign legal systems that could be integrated into the teaching of courses in American law schools. I thought that was a great idea and he did get the grant. That was the Ford Foundation project.

PROFESSOR LACY: I said “Rather than going four different summers, suppose I take a whole year off and do it all in one year?” and that was satisfactory. So during the year ’62-’63 I took leave, unpaid leave, from the Law School. I’d never been abroad. I’d been in the Pacific during the War and I’d been to Canada, but that was all. I was very interested in going to Europe, but not greatly interested in going to Asia or Africa or South America, well, mildly, you know. There were five of us in addition to Sullivan, and we had a meeting back in Washington, DC at which we carved up the globe. I said my first choice would be France or Germany. Someone else had spoken for England and George Pugh, who teaches at Louisiana State got France because he’s quite fluent in French and Louisiana has a strong French heritage. I got Germany. I didn’t want to go hopping all over the world during these years, so I said, “I notice that we don’t have any Communist countries, wouldn’t that be sort of interesting? What if I went to Yugoslavia?” Of course it’s right next door to Germany practically. So they thought that was a good idea. So that was two countries. By this time I decided I’ll knock off three countries in ’62-’63 and then take one summer. I said I’d go to Israel which was still almost Europe, but I figured would count as both Asia and Africa. Then some summer I was going to go to Chile or Peru or somewhere but actually that never came off. Instead I went to Japan in the summer of 65. During our years in Europe Jonnie didn’t want to keep moving around, and of course I was a fanatical skier in those days, and so the idea was we’ll go live basically in Austria. Jonnie and the kids could settle down there and I’d go to Yugoslavia which is just a train ride away in the fall, then in the winter I’d do Germany by commuting from Salzburg which is an hour or so from Munich and then in the spring I’d go to Israel. By the time winter came around I had discovered that Austria had essentially the same legal system as Germany so I got in touch with Frank and said what if I did Austria instead. OK. So I never went to Germany either. Actually I had discovered Austria really had a more advan
ced procedural system than Germany, so I told him and I think it’s true.

That was a wonderful experience. We produced a lot of articles. I wrote an article about each of the countries I went to as did most of the others. We jointly produced a casebook in criminal procedure. That was kind of a disappointment to me because it turned out that we really didn’t use much of our foreign material which was supposed to be the whole idea of the thing. I think it was a pretty good casebook in American law. This was when the Mapp v. Ohio and Gideon and all those cases were coming down so there was a lot of ferment in criminal procedure at that time. It really was a good book in criminal procedure but it was not a comparative law book. But as far as personal development and opening of eyes to things, that to me, and I hope to the Ford Foundation, was the real value of the project.

MR. BRODIE: Bob, there’s one question that I wanted to get on the record. Namely, that question of your name is Frank, but everyone calls you Bob.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, I’m a junior, Don. My full name is Frank Robinson Lacy, Jr. My father was called Frank and to avoid confusion from the earliest days I was called Bob. My mother called me Bobby but I managed to escape that as I attained years of discretion. So I’ve always been called Bob by people that know me.

MR. BRODIE: When I came out here you were introduced to me originally as the “Chairman of the Good Life Committee” because of your interest in various outdoor activities. You’ve been an avid skier, and climber.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes I have. I had lots of adolescent enthusiasms. One of the great pluses of living out here in Oregon is the availability of all that. I guess at the time you came, I was probably skiing more than anything else in the way of extracurricular activity. At some point, quite awhile ago now, somebody put a fishing rod in my hand and I have been an avid fly fisherman for quite awhile. And since retirement I’ve started playing golf. I think of myself as a pretty good skier; I certainly was when I was younger. I’m a reasonably competent fly fisherman. I’m a terrible golfer, but I enjoy it a lot.

MR. BRODIE: Are you still skiing some?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes. Much more cross country skiing than downhill. I’m nowhere near what I used to be when I was younger, but yes I still get out.

MR. BRODIE: You mentioned earlier that Ford Foundation inspired your first trip to Europe. After you finished the Ford Foundation Grant you’ve been back a number of times.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, I went back on sabbaticals. I had three sabbaticals before I retired. Each time Jonnie and I would talk about where to go. Well, the first time we were determined to go back to Salzburg because we had liked it there so much. Then after that, we thought, well should we perhaps go to Italy or France or Spain or somewhere. But we always seemed to wind up going back to Salzburg. It just became sort of a second home to us. It is a beautiful city and it’s a pleasant place to live. It’s about the same or very close in size to Eugene so it’s easy to get around in and most places are within walking distance. They pack people in much more densely, as you probably know, in European cities. A city of 100,000 in Europe is nowhere near as big in area as a city of that size in the U.S. There’s lots going on in the way of music in Salzburg. It was Mozart’s birth place and I suppose you could go to a concert every night if you really worked at it. We haven’t made a whole lot of friends there, but we have a small circle. It’s nice to get to know a foreign city really well. Last spring I read this book A Year in Provance which makes your mouth water to go live in France. And sometimes I think that’s what we should have been doing all these years. The weather in Salzburg’s not good. It’s much like Eugene only a little colder, A lot of rain and so forth, but it’s been a very pleasant place to live.

MR. BRODIE: Did you ski or climb?

PROFESSOR LACY: Didn’t do any climbing. I did a fair amount of skiing though frankly I think skiing in Europe is finished. We left a pair of skis over there on one of our trips several years ago, but we didn’t even bother to get them out last year. The snow is nowhere near as reliable as here. For example in Salzburg last spring, in March when we got there, most of the lower areas were either closed or should have been and the high lying areas that still had adequate snow were so terribly crowded that it just wasn’t worth doing. It’s gotten progressively worse every year we’ve gone. Over a period of 30 years we’ve been to Europe seven times and I think there’s been less snow each time. This is great evidence for the green house effect. We’d be six years apart and what happens in between I really don’t know, but for the years that we went you could draw a steady descending line on the graph, less snow and very steady ascending line of many, many more people. So I think anybody who goes to Europe just to go skiing is crazy. You get much better skiing right here at Willamette Pass. It’s beautiful and they have their great beer Stuben at the top of the mountain, that part’s wonderful, but the actual skiing is just not much fun anymore.

MR. BRODIE: You’ve also done some fishing in England, I hear.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, and in Austria. As a matter of fact I guess I’ve done more in Austria and that’s kind of interesting. You have to understand there’s no, zero, public water. When they talk about public water in Europe or in England it’s in the same sense that the English speak of public schools. They’re public if you can afford enough to go there. Most choice water is locked up in syndicates. People in small groups, you know a dozen or three or four people, get together and buy the fishing rights in a stream. The stream may flow through some farmer’s land, but he won’t have the right to fish in it. That would have been sold for a lot of money to some stock brokers from Munich and you can’t get close to that water. But there are a few places, and they’re hard to find, where you can by paying a daily fee. It’s comparable to going skiing. As the price of lift tickets has gone up, the price of a days fishing has. It’s closely comparable. But anyway you pay a fee and you get to fish. Let’s see the first year that I fished in Europe was I guess in 1974 and I found two or three places that were really good. They were as good as anything around here. And you have them all to yourself because I’d always go out in the middle of the week and I don’t think I ever saw anybody else. That was really a lot of fun, good fishing. Let’s see that was ’74. Then back in 1981 I found one more place that perhaps was the best of all but these other ones I’d found had deteriorated and then since then this great water I found in 1981, that had been sold to a syndicate.

In 1974 I took my fishing rod with me and I had a little book put out by the Austrian Tourist Association. I thought, hot dog, I’ll get a lot of fishing. So I had taken my rod and waders and stuff and then of course I found the season had ended and it would be April or May before I’d be able to do any fishing. But I thought I’d get a license. So I started looking around and that was terribly difficult. I can’t remember where I started, but I asked somebody where do I go to get a fishing license. You know in Oregon you can go in any sporting goods store, drug store or so forth and show them your drivers license and they’ll sell you a license. That’s all there is to it. Well it’s not like that. I had to find the correct government bureau to go to and that was not easy because I must have been sent to three or four different places that were the wrong ones. I didn’t work steadily at this but I started in November, looking ahead to next April. Every few weeks when I was downtown I’d think, “I’ll find that place today,” and then get sent to another wrong office. Finally after a couple months of this, I finally did find the right office. But I get there and there is a sign that it was a Friday afternoon and the
y’d all gone to an office picnic or something. Well, OK at least I know the place to go. Then I come back and in Austria, and in Germany too, they have this system of sick leaves. If you’re feeling a little liverish, or just kind of generally rundown you can go to a spa. This would be in a nice place up in the mountains, beautiful setting. They’ll have doctors, and but mostly it’s just taking it easy for awhile. And all on the health insurance. And so they all do for a week or two at a time. So the second time I went back the Beamter was on a sick leave. Finally after six months I finally got it. Oh yes, more to (?). I explained who I was, filled out all the forms and so forth. Then I had to get a certificate of good character from the police in Eugene and they do this through the Embassy in Vienna communicating with the police department in Eugene to certify that I’m a person of good character. That had to be added to my file and then they finally made a determination that I was entitled to have a fishing license.

MR. BRODIE: Were you able to keep the fish or was this catch and release.

PROFESSOR LACY: No, actually I am a catch and release fisher but in Austria they not only say you may but I fished in some places last spring where you were required to keep them. I never knew exactly why but you’re supposed to keep the fish. I don’t understand why that is. Well, maybe it’s the question of what happens to a fish when you put him back. You get arguments about this with American fisherman. When you fish with a fly my feeling is you don’t really hurt the fish very much and what George Platt and I say is the fish enjoys it as much as we do. Anyway, I know he has a sore mouth when you let him go. If you fish with a worm they swallow the thing and it’s going to kill them anyway. But with a fly I really don’t think you do, but if it’s a big fish and you play it for a long time some say that they die of a heart attack. Fish have a very small heart for the amount of blood that has to be pumped around and all that thrashing around and being scared to death and jumping and leaping and this is what kills them even though the hook really isn’t hurting them very much. So it may be that. You have a limit. You’re only supposed to catch four or five fish and they want you to keep the first four or five you catch because you’re probably going to kill those anyway. I think that must be their feeling.

MR. BRODIE: Are those streams stocked by the owners then or are they native?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, they are stocked.

MR. BRODIE: You have to get permission to fish and then you have to have the land owners permission to cross.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes. You have to have a license. This is the governmental authorization. Then you also have to find the person who owns not the land but, the fishing rights in the stream and get his permission. That’s the hard part. Anybody of good character can get a license, but finding somebody who will let you fish in his water that’s difficult.

MR. BRODIE: Is that where the Tourist Association book comes in handy?

PROFESSOR LACY: Some of the places that I fished I did get from this book, and the Tourist Bureaus in all these cities have some information but the best place I found wasn’t in any. I just stumbled onto it. You know I’d drive around and see a lovely little stream and go to the nearest Gasthous and ask who owns it and then try to find him. Once in a great while I’d strike pay dirt.

MR. BRODIE: Returning to the Law School, what are your recollections of the planning that preceded the move from Fenton into the new building.

PROFESSOR LACY: Throughout the ’50s, enrollment was very very small but when the baby boomers came along, by the middle ’60s, we were straining Fenton Hall to the limit. I guess we did make offices for as many as a dozen or more people over there but that would have been the most. We probably had between two or three hundred students by the 1969 year there so we had to do something.

We had an advisory committee. Alan Hart was probably the prime mover, other than people on the faculty. This group of lawyers were extremely helpful to us, extremely helpful in persuading the legislature. I guess if I had to point to any one person who is responsible for this building we are in it would be Arthur Flemming who was President then. Arthur Flemming was a go-go president. Anything suggested that could be done for the University, build a new building or anything, “do it, do it.” Where’s the money going to come from? Oh, we’ll find it somewhere. As a result, when he left the University was in terrible financial shape but he did accomplish a great deal in the way of building things and it takes people like that who are totally irresponsible, I think, to make these great leaps forward. It’s very sensible to sit down and think where are we going to get the money for this and all these other schools and departments are in ahead of us. That’s the way I’d approach the thing, and I’d never even start. But Flemming’s idea was full speed ahead. He had gotten the idea that we needed a new law school, a new bigger law school, so we got one. There might have been some talk at one time of enlarging Fenton Hall, but that was very rapidly abandoned. We had the president very solidly behind us and we couldn’t have done anything without that. With the help of President Flemming, the next step was the State Board of Higher Education, of course. Allan Hart’s father had been a very prominent lawyer in Portland, as Allan himself was. Allan would have become a federal district judge except he had gotten crosswise with Senator Morse I think, but he was a very good lawyer and very well thought of. Anyway Alan Hart and Hugh Smith and the President were able to persuade the State Board to put the Law School at the top or very near the top of the capital construction list. This annoyed some of the other schools because we came out of nowhere. You’re supposed to kind of start in 12th position and gradually work your way up biennium by biennium. If we’d had to do that we’d still be waiting I think.

We got the money, It was the year that Chapin was Acting Dean, 1967-68. I was away on sabbatical so it must have been the 1967 legislature that did this for us. There had to be a bond issue, and it was voted on. I know Tom Mapp had in his office for a long time a sign on a stick that said “Yes on Measure Six” or something. He and Chapin had led a parade of law students in support of the vote on the bond issue. But anyway the point is that it was the ’67 legislature and it wasn’t, I’d say, until 1966 that we really started talking seriously about a new building so it went fantastically fast.

We had a committee that Hans Linde was the chairman of. Actually I don’t know if it was even a committee, maybe it was just Hans. He worked very closely with Dee Unthank, who was the architect, and he and Dee took a trip together. This must have been in the fall of ’68, somewhere along in there. They took a trip down to California and back east and looked at law schools there and got ideas about the physical structure of the law building and what size classrooms should be and how the offices should be laid out and such matters. The law school at Davis was just coming into existence at this time, a few years ahead of us. And the fellow who was the first dean of Davis, Ed Barrett came up at one point and told us about the various problems they’d encountered. They were really starting from scratch as a law school, but in a sense, we were starting from scratch too because the law school we have here is so different from what existed before. It almost was like beginning from the ground up. But anyway, that’s how it happened.

MR. BRODIE: Was there any talk during that period, as has occurred in the history of the law school, about moving to Portland?

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, I can’t quite remember the chronology here but probably it would have been a few years earlier, in the early 60s. There had been a law school for many many years, a proprietary school, in Portland ca
lled Northwestern. It was a very poor quality operation run as a business by a person who had been a judge once, a night school. There was a demand in Portland for a better law school and one proposal was, not that we’d move there, but we’d have a branch. But at that time we were having trouble enough, very understaffed here and so forth and there was never much enthusiasm on our part in doing that, at least certainly not on mine. I remember talking about this in a faculty meeting once in Fenton Hall but there just was not much interest in our part in doing that. So Lewis and Clark did it, that’s what happened. Lewis and Clark bought–I don’t know what they bought–the name I guess. It’s called the Northwestern Law School of Lewis and Clark. Maybe they bought the loyalty of the Northwestern graduates of past years or something like that, but that’s how Lewis and Clark came into existence.

MR. BRODIE: The move was not given any serious consideration down here.

PROFESSOR LACY: I don’t think so.

MR. BRODIE: And you indicated that the development of this new building was not really an evolution over time.

PROFESSOR LACY: It happened very rapidly. Yes, it was a mutation rather than an evolution.

MR. BRODIE: Once the building was up, the old time faculty members it must have been quite a different world. What was it like in Fenton Hall from a faculty point of view compared to here?

PROFESSOR LACY: Well, at Fenton Hall I had a beautiful big corner office with a 12 foot ceiling and windows on two sides. I think the main change that I noticed was the move from the center of the campus out to the edge. I noticed this almost immediately. This was in part because, at this same time, the whole university was growing rapidly. In the old Fenton days, I felt that I knew almost everybody on the University faculty and saw them regularly over at the faculty club and so forth. Once we came over here, the law school became a much more self-contained operation. That was really quite noticeable. Other than that I wouldn’t say it was such a shock. It was fun having a new building.

MR. BRODIE: The faculty was growing. Did faculty relations between the individual members change? Were they closer in Fenton Hall?

PROFESSOR LACY: Probably were a little, because there were so few of us. Yes, changing from a faculty of seven or eight, only five when I first came, up to 25 or so, yes, of course that makes a change.

MR. BRODIE: And the operation of the school changed over this period of time from essentially a dean driven model to a more nearly faculty driven model.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes, and that all happened about the same time. Dean Hollis never had any assistant dean. If he’d had an assistant dean it would have wiped out 25% of the faculty. But when Gene Scoles came, Fred Merrill and George Dawson were hired. Probably the year we started here was their first year and they were hired to be part-time assistant deans.

MR. BRODIE: In Dean Hollis’s phrase, “deanlings” as I recall.

PROFESSOR LACY: John Strong was an associate dean under Gene for at least a year or so, but then I think there was another long gap without any associate dean.

MR. BRODIE: If you put it on a kind of rough measure of “fun” for want of a better word, was it more fun in the old building or in the new building looking back.

PROFESSOR LACY: I’d say it was more fun in the new building. It was a much more exciting operation. There were better students. The quality of the students went up very markedly. In the ’50’s when I started our standards were abysmally low, 2.25 gradepoint and you need not have graduated from college. I would guess the majority of our students hadn’t. They would go three years as undergraduates and then their first year of law school was counted as the fourth year of their B.A. program. We took in many, many students who had no business coming to Law School at all and didn’t last very long. There would be a few strong students in every class. There were some very very good ones in those days. Ted Goodwin, Walter Probert and John Jaqua for example were as good students as I’ve ever had anytime. But after you went through the top two or three in each class, the quality tailed off very rapidly. Looking at the first year class, by the time you got to the bottom half, they were hopeless, and so they didn’t survive the first year which was very wasteful, kind of demoralizing. By the time we got to the new building, well even before we left Fenton Hall, we’d put in a graduation requirement and with the baby boomers coming along in the 60’s the classes started to grow. I don’t think we really got selective until we came over here. I think it was more self-selection. I don’t think we had an admissions committee. I don’t think that really happened until we came over here. I was never on that committee so really, I can’t speak with any assurance about this, but it’s certainly my impression that we didn’t really have an admission program until we got over here.

MR. BRODIE: Lawst Weekend was in full swing when you were in Fenton Hall.

PROFESSOR LACY: Yes. This came along in May, I guess it was in May. It was always nice weather. It was always on a Friday. It was a weekend. But of course we had classes on Saturday morning all this time too. That may have lasted even until we got over here. It was still going in Gene’s first year I know. But I think probably the Saturday of the Lawst Weekend was a school holiday and so for all practical purposes was the Friday. The students would all arrive with painters’ hats. Where this tradition of wearing painters’ hats got started I do not know but it was a firmly established tradition. They’d come in painters’ hats and there was a lot of drinking and fooling around in class. Mostly it was fun. There was one infamous incident, the Bob Summers incident. This was about 1966. Bob Summers was always an excellent teacher, but he was a sensitive person, thin skinned and he took himself very seriously in many ways. If there had been nothing but that to him I wouldn’t have liked him so much but he also could laugh at himself. He realized that in some respects he was kind of a stuffed shirt and was amused by it. But I don’t think the students saw that side of him. At any rate the students on this occasion had gotten a topless dancer that they brought to class. I think they had handcuffed her to the desk or something like that. Well she was sitting up there. He was trying to conduct the class and he was outraged by this. Instead of going along with the gag which most of us would have done, he stamped out of class and then he insisted that the class had to apologize to him. Of course they were not about to do that so he would not go to class. It was a mess, all smoothed over by Chapin, as usual.

Senator Morse was still alive at that time and owned the place that is now the Morse ranch. He was very seldom in town, but that was supposedly his residence and he had a horse drawn vehicle of some kind. It was sort of a cart and students would always manage to get their hands on this. I remember one year we had a student who had been in something like the FBI or Army Intelligence, and one skill he’d picked up was picking locks. So he went up and this cart, whatever it was, was in a locked shed and he picked the lock. So they got the cart and hauled it down, that’s a long way. I never knew how it got here. It would always turn up and they would grab girls off the street and put them in this cart and haul it around. That was a regular feature of the Lawst Weekend. There would be a picnic on Saturday with various sports such as couples tossing eggs. That’s the one I remember. They start a yard or so apart from each other and then step back and toss and finally they’re 50 feet apart and the eggs are getting kind of fragile by that time.

You asked me last time if I remembered any funny stories about Charlie Howard and I did think of one. It might have been after he left the faculty. He was of counsel for what is now the Hershner, Hunter firm, Darling &
Vonderheit in those days. He was elected a member of the Board of Governors of the Bar. They were elected probably during the summer and then at the Bar Convention they would be installed and so forth. The tradition was that the new member was supposed to give a party, which meant provide all the booze for these people. Well, I told you Charlie was a prohibitionist, very strict. But it was conveyed to him that he was supposed to provide a party. So he went out and bought a whole lot of watermelons and that was the party for the Board of Governors.

MR. BRODIE: At any time you were here, did Wayne Morse have any active connection with the law school?

PROFESSOR LACY: No. He used to come around. I remember him once giving a lecture. I think it was the first year I was here and I was tremendously impressed by him. He was a great speaker. He would come every now and then. A few times a year he would come back to mend his fences in Oregon and he would drop in and see his old friends, Charlie and then Kenneth. I remember once, I guess it was probably Kenneth brought him to my office, and introduced me to him. We had a conversation, but a conversation with Wayne Morse was pretty much a one way street. I remember he would be asked what do you think of some Senator or whatever. Well, whoever it was, what you heard was an account of some occasion on which Morse had put this guy down. That was all he ever talked about, especially when he was about Dirksen, of course that’s what you’d hear. But even people that were supposedly on the same side as he was. That would be the story you’d hear the time I got the better of that person. He was an egomaniac, I guess you have to be to get elected to the senate maybe but he really was.

MR. BRODIE: What were your favorite courses to teach?

PROFESSOR LACY: I think of the time I told you how I resigned from the faculty and then came back. I think of that first time as sort of my probationary period. In those days most young teachers were assigned the cats and dogs of the curriculum to teach. I taught domestic relations and criminal law. The first courses that I really thoroughly got interested in and really enjoyed teaching I’d say were torts and evidence which were my two big courses when I came back to the faculty in 1957. I had taught creditor’s rights earlier without great enthusiasm but then Count Bayse taught it for awhile. Along in the middle ’60’s I started teaching it again and I continued to teach that until I retired. That was one that I liked very much. It’s creditor’s rights and bankruptcy and the bankruptcy part is fun. I even got quite interested in the state law part. It’s hard to explain to people why I’d take any interest in that. It’s fairly drab subject matter but I think it is intellectually interesting. When I finally got into civil procedure and that would be my first choice now, but I thoroughly enjoyed teaching torts and evidence in those earlier years.

MR. BRODIE: Was Wendell Bayse on the faculty when you came?

PROFESSOR LACY: He came in the fall of ’57 which was when I returned from my sojourn downtown. He had been an Internal Revenue lawyer in Portland, and taught tax and corporations and creditors’ rights and bankruptcy for awhile. He taught agency at the start. We used to have a course in agency. That’s when he came and then Dick Kelly came the year after that. Dick came in the fall of ’58. Hans didn’t come until January of ’59 and then almost immediately was diagnosed with tuberculosis and I don’t know that he taught at all again the rest of that semester. Bob Summers came in 1960 and then Chapin then Tom. Then the dam broke and all kinds of people came. Herb Titus, Gary Weatherford, Jamie Hunter and George Platt were all hired in the year before you were hired. That was the biggest single hire we ever made I think. That would have been fall of 1966, we were still in Fenton Hall then. Still in Fenton Hall when you came.

MR. BRODIE: What year did you retire?

PROFESSOR LACY: In May 1986.

Click here for Part II of Don Brodie’s interview with Bob Lacy

Related Link:

Oregon Law Remembers Longtime Faculty Member Bob Lacy

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Oregon Law » Newsroom » Chairman of the Good Life Committee: An Interview with Bob Lacy