By Albert R. Anness, House 1949
Al had a memorable encounter with House Doorkeeper “Fishbait” Miller at the 1949 Inauguration of President Harry S. Truman. He writes of his final encounter with “Fishbait,” more than two decades later.
After my Page term, I didn’t have the opportunity to return to Washington D.C. for many years, and in the busy whirl of college, marriage and career, didn’t keep up with “Fishbait.”
My last contact with “Fishbait” occurred sometime in the ‘70s. My wife Sharon and I were in the D.C. area visiting college friends. One day we found ourselves on Capitol Hill, and I wanted to show her around the House of Representatives. In short order we were walking up the steps to the Rotunda, through the same huge, ornate double doors that I had exited President Truman’s Inaugural platform many years earlier.
I wanted to renew my acquaintance with “Fishbait,” introduce Sharon, and ask permission to take her onto the floor of the House. We headed to his office. Since the House was in recess, I didn’t think there was much of a chance of finding him there, but I felt lucky that spring day.
“Fishbait” was in his office, bent over a mimeograph machine that was broken. He looked up and greeted us in his typical down-home fashion. I introduced myself and Sharon. After we shook hands, he immediately hugged and kissed Sharon. And then hugged and kissed her again! Grinning like a Cheshire cat, “Fishbait” turned his attention to me. Of course, he did not remember me – small wonder considering the hundreds of House Pages he encountered during his long career as Doorkeeper. We talked briefly, and he mentioned several former Pages who had returned as Congressmen. Realizing he was busy, I came to the point of my visit and asked for a pass to the House floor. He apologized for not having the time to personally conduct our tour himself, and quickly scribbled a note to the Capitol policeman in the Visitor’s Gallery.
After handing me the handwritten pass, he hugged and kissed Sharon. Again. We shook hands (although I kind of wanted to slug him), and wished each other the best. I turned and left “Fishbait’s” presence for the last time. On September 12, 1989, two days before my fifty-eighth birthday, “Fishbait” passed away.
Al left Washington in late 1949. He entered Indiana University in 1952 and later enjoyed a 35-year career in sales and marketing. In 2001, Al published a book entitled “Growing up in Liberty” — the story of his widowed grandmother raising four sons at the beginning of the 20th century. Al and Sharon, his wife of 58 years, now live in Franklin, Indiana.
25 years after leaving Washington, Al and his wife returned to visit the House and see “Fishbait” again.