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Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy & my Uncle Floyd Nick Boutrous
JFK was in Bismarck to address the Young Democrats Club and would later in the day speak before them. Floyd mentioned often that he liked Kennedy a lot, said he was a very nice jovial guy. He enjoined his time he spent with the President to be. JFK had a fantastic sense of humor, he was smart and quick with his thoughts.
One story Floyd told about the time after the speech when he was showing JFK around Bismarck and Burleigh County. Floyd drove JFK to a farm outside of town, it was a hog farm and as Floyd recalled was owned by some serious looking Skandi farmers. JFK and Floyd were walking around the farm talking to various farmers and on-lookers.
All of a sudden Kennedy looked down at his expensive patent leather shoes, realizing he had stepped in some hog excrement and quickly turned to Floyd and said with a laugh, Floyd, lets get the hell outta here. They did and got back in the car with JFK scraping off his shoes before he got back in Floyd's car. They continued on with the tour of the area.
On the other hand, Floyd mentioned when he was in a similar situation when President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Bismarck on the campaign trail in 1964, Floyd was not so impressed with LBJ at all. He felt Johnson came off as a big shot Texas arrogant politician and obviously in a hurry to get back on the plane after his speech that afternoon.
Floyd met some very interesting folk over the long course of his life. I was always in awe of him and he was well liked by my folks and grandparents. He did a lot for the family.
RIP Uncle Floyd, you were a good guy, great husband and father and a great North Dakota advocate. Floyd Nick Boutrous was born on January 30th 1917 in Bismarck, ND and passed on March 2nd, 2010 in Mandan, ND.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy's Speech at the Young Democrats Luncheon
in Bismarck, North Dakota on February 6th, 1960 can be found below the photograph.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy's Speech at the Young Democrats Luncheon
in Bismarck, North Dakota on February 6th, 1960
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased to be here in Bismarck and having the opportunity to speak before you. I would like to address you on a subject that has significant importance to rural America, which North Dakota is a significant partner in the ever growing and changing atmosphere of the country.
There is one program which has been constantly threatened and harassed by the Eisenhower administration that has been a vital program of our rural electrification. There are those who would have you believe that the fight for rural electrification is over that the battles of the Twenties and Thirties, led by George Norris and Bill Langer and others endowed with farsighted vision have all been won that this is a time to be contented with the progress that has been made, and by implication to treat the REA co-ops like any other successful utility.
But I cannot agree with these sentiments. These issues are not gone and the problems are not solved. It is true that most farms now have electric lights. It is a fact that REA cooperatives and power districts are well established, well accepted enterprises. There is no doubt that the dream first visualized by George Norris and Franklin Roosevelt has been fulfilled.
But today we are faced with new problems and new horizons never even foreseen by George Norris. For this Nation has now completed its age of consolidation now the age of change and challenge is upon us. We are at the very edge of our greatest era of expansion, growth and abundance at the edge of a new and better era for our Nation, our world and all mankind. The standards of the past will not do the goals of the present are not enough we must move ahead to seize the future and to make it ours.
We are approaching the time when this Nation will boast of a 200 million population, a $500 billion national income, and a trillion dollar economy and grave responsibility as the food basket for a world whose population will double in 40 years.
The key to that future is power power on the farm as well as the factory power in the country as well as the city.
The history of the REA demonstrates that the farmer's consumption of power can double in as short a time as five years. Rural electrification in North Dakota, for example, is the product of less than 15 years of Federal power. Let no one doubt, then, that the role of REA is as vital now, and in the years to come, as it has ever been in the past quarter of a century.
For rural electrification cannot stand still in an age when it must either move ahead or wither on the vine. But if it is to move ahead, REA rates must remain low more generating capacity must be developed the vast resources of nuclear energy must be tapped high-grade lignite mines must be utilized and the guiding spirit of George Norris must prevail. For it is an ironic fact I say it is a tragic fact that the kind of dynamic leadership and initiative REA needs in the Executive Branch is lacking today at the very time we need it most.
Instead of new help, we get new handicaps. Instead of more funds, we get more restrictions.
This Administration has been dedicated to a policy in REA of slow down, hold back and stretch out. It is not, as some would have you believe, a battle between the "spenders" and the "savers" for REA is a form of saving saving hours and lives on the farm saving farms for our Nation's needs and saving and returning to our Nation's government every dollar loaned with interest. In taxes on new appliances, new equipment and new farm income, the miracle of REA has returned to the public treasuries many times the entire cost of the program. So let no one tell you that REA should be cut back in any drive for economy. If we want to increase national income to balance the budget, then REA should be expanded, not restricted.
But there are no efforts to expand there are no priorities for rural co-ops seeking additional power sources there are no new loans for telephone co-ops. We are confronted, on the contrary, with an attempt to rewrite the past to rewrite the history and intent of the REA bill in order to deny co-ops the right to operate in areas which could potentially be served by a private power company absolutely regardless, mind you, of how high those private power rates are, how poor its service may be, or even how unlikely its intentions really are of serving those customers.
We are confronted with a Secretary of Agriculture who urges the REA co-ops to go to banks for their long-term funds and an REA administrator openly advocating higher interest rates upon REA loans.
We are confronted, in addition, with a Federal Power Commission that does not believe in public power and does not understand the preference clause. We are confronted with a Secretary of Agriculture who insists on political clearance for REA loans. When we tried in Congress to clear this up by law, President Eisenhower vetoed the bill on Mr. Benson's behalf. The Senate over-rode that veto. The House, unfortunately, could not.
We are confronted with a too timid, too little, too slow Administration power policy. Last year, Congress took the initiative by calling for a slack-water navigation study on the Missouri. It even authorized $300,000 for this purpose. As you know, slack-water navigation will harness the mighty Missouri to provide 600,000 kilowatts of sorely-needed power. At the same time, it will permit full navigation instead of half navigation on the river.
What was the Administration's answer? For this $300,000 study, this year's Budget Message requests $10,000. At this rate it will take 30 years just to make the study. Perhaps the Administration hopes the Missouri will run dry before the study can be completed.
But we in the Democratic Congress have succeeded in blocking Administration progress on its five requests to this Congress affecting the REA:
That is the hard, unchangeable five-point program of this Administration for REA. There you have this Administration's blueprint for the future of the REA co-ops.
There is no mention in the Administration program of new power sources like lignite to furnish the power the co-ops must have if they are to adequately serve their constantly growing needs. There is no acknowledgement of the 40% of our farm families without telephone service. There is no attempt to reach the remaining 300,000 farm and ranch families still without electricity.
No one has ever pretended that standard banking and utility practices could do this job. When Franklin Roosevelt and George Norris decided 25 years ago that the job must be done, they assigned it to the co-ops. We must not permit this decision to be reversed now, when we need REA more than ever before. And with your help, with the election of a Democratic Congress and a new Democratic President, REA can be preserved, it can be strengthened, and it can continue to serve America.
I thank you and hope everyone here continues to support what is right for America and I look forward to seeing more of your fair city of Bismarck.
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