Christensen: Bob Scott's diary offers glimpse at a governor’s last days in office

rchristensen@newsobserver.comJanuary 5, 2013 

We don’t know exactly what Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue was thinking in her final days in office.

But we do have some idea of the thoughts of another governor, Democrat Bob Scott as he prepared to leave office 40 years ago. That is because he kept a diary, which his family made part of his official papers in the State Archives historical collection.

Scott, who was governor from 1969-73, served one term, which was the constitutional limit at the time. His father had also been governor and a U.S. senator. Bob Scott would go on to become president of the state community college system. He died in 2009.

Like Perdue, he was being succeeded by a Republican. In his case, it was Jim Holshouser, the first Republican governor since the 1800s.

Here are some excerpts from Scott’s diary:

Jan. 1, 1973: “Well, this year will certainly be different from last year – from the last four years – or the last years for the matter,” Scott wrote. “I hope to spend more time with the family, have more time off from official duties, and make more money. Sounds like utopia. This week will be hectic, but after that I expect to relax some. I often wonder if there will be a vacuum and it will take me quite a while to adjust back. I tell myself that it won’t, but still I wonder about it. I wonder if I’ll simply stand around waiting for something that just must be done right now – a decision to make or a crisis to solve.”

Jan. 2: He writes that he feels like he is coming down with the flu. “I’ve got to remain on the job because it would never do for me not to show up the last few days. People would laugh and say ‘it’s making him sick to see another governor take over’ or words to that effect.”

Jan. 3: He returned to the Capitol, which had been undergoing renovation, for the first time in a year, where the Council of State gave him an engraved silver bowl. That night he went to his office in the Capitol to do a little work. But the contractors had changed the locks. He called the Capitol Police to let him in. He writes that he is grateful that there is not a newspaper photographer there to snap a shot of him standing there waiting in the rain.

Jan. 5: “Well, it’s all over. The reigns of leadership and the position of governor and authority have passed to another. I wish him well. I must say that I have a feeling of relief – almost comic relief – at being out from under it all.

“It was cold, but I enjoyed all of the events, although I did not care for all the partisanship of Holshouser’s inaugural speech, the part where he implied that my administration was full of cronyism and the roads built by the Highway Department were solely on the basis of politics. I did not care for that at all.”

Jan. 8: Back at his dairy farm in Haw River, Scott went to the bank and asked to borrow $20,000 to live on until his first check came in.

Jan. 9: He wrote that he was worrying about a drive shaft snapping on the forage box because the silage that had been loaded the day before had frozen in the 11-degree weather. He also had a tanker milk truck’s brakes freeze and lock and two large tractors were needed to straighten out the problem. He also checked 42 cows for pregnancy and breeding problems.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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