Jul 9, 2003
42 Years Ago in 1961 I spent the Summer as a Senate Page for Senator Albert Gore Sr.
I was 14 years old and lived alone in a rooming house run by Mrs. Alexandra Columbus where the red X marks the spot behind the Supreme Court Building. Every morning I would stroll past SCOTUS on the way to the NSOB (Now the Dirksen) for breakfast in the Senate Cafeteria. There were usually a few Senators present. I would then hop on the short "subway" that ran from the Senate Office Buildings to the Senate side of the Capitol and to the Senate Chamber by 9:00AM.
Senate pages would set up the desks in the Senate chamber prior to each day’s session that began at 11:00am. We would place a copy of the Congressional Record from the day before and copies of Bills or Resolutions to be considered on each of the 100 desks. Pens, pencils, and legal pads were checked. During the morning and throughout the sessions we would be dispatched to one office or another to pickup some document and deliver it to another for signature and return or simply to drop off. The worst of those tasks would be when dispatched to a far corner office on the third floor of the NSOB for a missive that had to go to a Congressman who was quartered in the far upper corner of the Rayburn HOB. The House pages did not have the luxury of a subway train so a long underground walk was involved. I wore out three sets of heels on a pair of loafers in 3 months on those marble floors.
The picture of Senators above shows Kenneth Keating R NY, Hubert Humphrey D MN the Majority Whip, Jacob Javits R NY, Everett Dirksen R IL who was the Minority Leader of the Senate, Tom Kuchel R CA., Warren Magneson D WA and Phillip Hart. Keefauver and Gore were the Democratic Senators from Tennessee. There was almost a 2/3rds majority of Democrats. I was serving on the Republican side of the aisle because the Democrats controlled patronage and most of the tenured (year long) pages were on the Democratic side.
John Tower joined the Senate from Texas as a Republican while I was there and he was seated next to Barry Goldwater R. AZ who marked his bills every day to tell him how to vote. Norris Cotton R NH., Saltonstall R MA. and Margaret Chase Smith from Maine were among the memorable faces on the Republican side. Pat Robertson's father was a Democrat Senator from Virginia, 'Midnight' Wayne Morse D OR. held a 12 hour filibuster on something strange and kept us there all night; Richard Russell D of Georgia was old and Carl Hayden D AZ class of 27 was older. Strom Thurmond was a Democrat then and not so old. I collected autographed pictures of every Senator that summer.