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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #64)

Tue Nov 10, 2015, 08:04 AM

65. Bayh only briefly, but Dirksen was a hoot

Dirksen loved to entertain. He was a chain-smoker, and his voice was smoothy-gravelly. They used to call him the "oliaginous wizard of ooze." He used to hold court in the Senate Press Gallery. Even though I usually didn't know what he was talking about, I was always fascinated by the show. I don't recall what the connection was, Idaho being nowhere near the Great Lakes, but Frank and Forrest Church used to come out to the house on weekends, and my dad and Frank Church were locked in conversation for hours on end. Forrest was several years older than I was, and when you're ten, that makes a lot of difference in whether or not you have anything in common or not.

The only Republican I remember coming out to the house was Charlie Gooddell, famously called by Agnew "the Christine Jorgenson of the Republican Party," since Gooddell had nothing but criticism of how Nixon was conducting the Vietnam conflict. The guy who replaced Gooddell in the Senate, Jim Buckley (Bill's brother), was my first introduction into a scary Washington reality: on occasion, people you think are the Devil incarnate politically turn out to be nice guys. I was perplexed by that for a long time. "I hate everything this guy says. Why isn't he an asshole?" Jake Javits was out at the house, too, I'm sure, but I mostly remember him from seeing him in DC. Pierre Salinger lived near us, so he sometimes showed up, too. At my dad's urging, Salinger got JFK to autograph a photo of himself and dedicate it to me "with best wishes" for my 11th birthday. I still have that photo right here in the house, in its original frame from 1963.

Like I said, different times.

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