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  • Joint Session of Congress

    Account of a Joint Session of Congress in which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the House and the Senate.
    Interview recorded May 3, 2005 – View transcript

    Full Text: Joint Session of Congress


    I know it was in 1933, and we’re all anxious to hear the new President address the Joint Session of Congress, and Johnny McCabe was along with me, sitting in front of the Speaker’s Rostrum at that time. I just sat there for a…actually, I was on duty. I just sat there for a little bit. I didn’t know they were taking the picture while I was sitting there. He [Franklin Roosevelt] had a very good technique of reading from a prepared speech, and giving it almost as if he were speaking without notes or anything. And Jimmy Roosevelt sat to his left, listening on the platform and, immediately behind him, were the Vice President, sits right behind, to the right, and that would have been, at that time it would have been Jack Garner, who had been Speaker before that. So, Joe Byrns was sitting in the Speaker’s chair, with the presiding officer at the time.

    So everything—Did I tell you that we always had a platform built, and we’d take it in, and put it at the Speaker’s Rostrum, so President Roosevelt could walk up the steps to get to the podium to speak? There’s no way in the world he could have done it without this. And he always used that. He walked, passed us in the Speaker’s Lobby, and we’d speak to him and so forth, and we’d open the doors so he could go on in. And I forgot to tell you this, it was always my job to have a glass of water and one of our House of Representatives towels on the Speaker’s Rostrum so he could drink whenever he felt like it.

  • The Bonus March

    Eyewitness account of the World War I Veterans’ Bonus March in 1932.
    Interview recorded April 28, 2005 – View transcript

    Full Text: The Bonus March


    We heard, via the radio, and the newspapers, that a bunch of veterans of World War I were marching on the Capitol. They were a destitute bunch, and they were penniless, and their families in some cases were with them. They were called the “Bonus Expeditionary Forces” was the correct name for them. And we were afraid up at the Capitol, because they were quite insistent on getting a bonus. This was in 1932, and President Hoover had already said that he would veto any bonus bill that was passed. Well, Wright Patman was in charge of the legislation in the House, and he used to give me money and checks to take down to General Glassford, who was Chief of the Metropolitan Police Force, and they used this money to set up kitchens—soup kitchens for the veterans and their families.

  • The Little Congress

    Description of the staff organization, the Little Congress.
    Interview recorded April 28, 2005 – View transcript

    Full Text: The Little Congress

    And they were mostly congressional secretaries, but there were Pages, and there were doorkeepers, and there were elevator operators, messengers in the post office, anybody on the government payroll, legislative payroll, could join for $2. And we would debate bills before they arrived in the House and Senate. We’d get them from the Government Printing Office, or the document room, and debate them in the old Cannon Building.
    This was called the Little Congress Club?
    Little Congress, yes.
    Okay. How often did you meet?
    We initially met once a month, and then it was changed. Johnson wanted it to be more active, so he had us come in once a week. And we would debate, and we’d have visiting guests come in and speak to us, like Senators or committee chairmen in the House, and so forth, or prominent Congressmen, or Senators.
  • Training a Future President

    Memories of training future President Lyndon Baines Johnson as a House doorkeeper during the 1930s.
    Interview recorded April 27, 2005 – View transcript

    Full Text: Training a Future President


    The Doorkeeper [Joe Sinnott] came to me and said, “We’re having a new doorkeeper that’s going to work on the door here. I want him—you to introduce him to everyone, and he’ll be working for you.” And I said, “Fine.” And he said, “Will you do it?” And I said, “Sure, I’ll do it. Love to do it.” I said, “Who is he? What’s his name?” He said, “Lyndon Johnson.” I said, “Lyndon Johnson?” I said, “I’ve known him since he arrived in Washington.” So he came and worked the rest of the session on the door with me. And I took him in and introduced him to Congressmen on the floor, and went up and down each aisle, seat, told him who they were, introduced him to the reporters, and a lot of things like that.