All the craziness that has been taking place on Capitol Hill, around the Supreme Court and in other places in our country, I suddenly had one of those memories that popped into my brain of an incident long ago and far away. It is not that long ago and far away in time, but in terms of attitude, culture and who we are as a people it might as well be in eternity.
Back in the early 80s my brother worked for a Congressman. We had flown out to Washington DC to spend time with him and he gave us a tour of the Capitol, the Smithsonian, the monuments and we had a wonderful time. I think we had a tour of the White House but I am not sure of a memory on that. I do remember that the great controversy at the time was the White House Dinner Ware and Nancy’s Reagans’ so called expensive taste. We were able to go down in the tunnels under the congressional office buildings and see where their stores and their barbershops and all the amenities that they get simply because they are congressman or senators and it was quite impressive.
My brother knew that my wife liked seafood so he took us one day to the Chesapeake to a waterside restaurant and I remember walking through head highs piles of oyster shells, parking in a parking lot made of oyster shells, and spending a couple of hours trying to hold down my churning stomach as I smelled the sea food being prepared. I can’t eat shellfish, and I have only recently taken to eating certain kinds of salt water fish like Chilean Sea Bass, or Ahi Tuna but the smell of lobster going by was almost unbearable. We were there for quite a while and when we got back to DC, it was late, and if my memory is right it was probably after midnight. For some reason we impulsively decided, because my brother had been talking about it all day, to go to Capitol Hill to see something in the vestibule that he found fascinating. Of course we couldn’t get in the building and I think we knew that, but my memory is we parked in a lot behind the Capitol and simply walked around the office building to the Capitol proper and stared into a large corner window. Looking back at this from the perspective of today I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine in the middle of the night three adults are huddled
around one of the big congressional windows, staring intently into the building. While my brother was searching for what he wanted us to see, we suddenly heard a voice behind us asking “what are you doing”? Turning around we were confronted by a Capitol Hill Police Officer. I thought we were going to be arrested and spend the night in jail, but when my brother told him what he wanted to show us, the officer said “that is the wrong window, come this way” and led us to another spot to peer into.
This was of course before 911. This was before a lot of nonsense. People will listen to my story and say Mayberry never existed, and Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver aren’t coming back. They of course are right and our world is a much sadder for it.
We were finally able to go into the building next day, and see what my brother wanted us to see much better. We were able to go into the Senate gallery and like much in Congress nothing was happening at the time. But had it been I wouldn’t have even thought to scream or protest. We were able to go to our Senators office and of course they weren’t there either. But it would never have entered my mind to scream in their faces and keep them pent up in elevators.