By Jim Stasny, House, 1962
I don’t ever recall “just another day” as a House Page.
Before the House was called to order, a mix of people gathered in the well including members with a motive or a message to sell, perhaps a senior staff person or two, and reporters in the lobby. For the most part the chairs in the House were empty, a fact that somehow made the lighting in the chamber seem brighter.
One morning an older man shuffled up the main aisle and sat down on the Republican side. I might not have noticed except it was still 30 minutes or more before the House was to convene. So I watched him. He didn’t move very much or appear to be reading. Unbidden (generally not a good idea) I finally walked down and asked if he needed anything. This elderly man with strands of hair dropping diagonally across his forehead looked up at me.
Silence, and then a smile. “No,” he said. “Nice of you to ask, though.”
I recognized him, of course. I’d watched him on TV and seen his picture in the newspaper and magazines. He was former Speaker Joseph Martin.
So I asked another question. “Could I have your autograph, Mr. Speaker?”
“You know who I am? You’re just a boy.”
“Yes, sir, I know who you are.” I had a copy of a House report I’d carried with me as a cover in case the authorities – or the former Speaker – asked me what I was doing down there.
He signed the report: Joseph W. Martin, Jr.
He handed it to me – and cried, not just a most eye or a tear on the cheek. His head shook a little. Although I knew he was the former Speaker, I did not know that two years earlier he had been taken down as Republican leader.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker,” I said.
“Thank you, boy.”
Jim Stasny, House, 1962, has compiled some of his memories of adventures on Capitol Hill as a 16-year-old from Whiting, Ind., and has shared them with the USCPAA. From the page corps, Jim went on to school at John Carroll University and then the Kennedy School at Harvard. He was a staff member for Sen. George McGovern, worked for six years on the Senate Budget Committee, and was a speechwriter at Fannie Mae.