Responding to Birthday Roast February 23, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the representative from Nome, for making my birthday memorable. I’ve had several memorable events in my life – so far, I’ve recovered from all of them, and with any luck, I’ll also recover from the comments you just heard.
I am now 71 years old – and let me explain how old that is.
When I was a baby, Herbert Hoover was president. On December 7th, 1941, I remember the radio broadcast announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor, and when Roosevelt died I was in the 7th grade, and when Kennedy was assassinated several of you weren’t even born, but I was a captain in the Air Force. I learned to drive in a 1935 Huppmobile. As a kid my dream cars were Studebakers, Hudsons, and Packards., and when I graduated college I drove a Henry J. There were newsreels before movies, milk was delivered at home in glass bottles, I collected savings stamps, sent V-Mail overseas, and we had a Victory garden in the backyard. Telephone numbers had a prefix – our phone number was Angeles 13225. Ladies didn’t use four letter words, and that’s still one of the differences between a woman and a lady. Washing machines had wringers, and I caught my arm in one, and still have the scar. Movies didn’t come in color, ball point pins hadn’t been invented, and carbon paper was used instead of copy machines. In the evening we gathered around the family radio and listened to Fibber McGhee and Molly, and Gabriel Heater gave us the political commentary of the day. It was possible to hum or whistle popular music and, as a matter of fact, I used to go to the Hollywood Palladium and dance to the music of Harry James – if anyone even knows who Harry James is. Finally, every airplane I ever flew in the Air Force is now in a museum. I’ve been married over 50 years, and my sweetheart is an old woman – well, there goes that vote! I just wish I had all this experience in a 20 year old body. But my younger colleagues should pay attention to the military adage that old age skill and cunning beats youth and inexperience every time, whatever the playing field.
It’s also a sobering thought that I am old enough to be the father of every representative in this chamber who was born in 1954 or later, that’s 18 of you, and includes 13 of you in my own party. I might point out that eventually, all my children came to love me – despite all of our trials and tribulations - and we finally became a large happy family – in fact, it’s my personal longevity bonus, and I’m in favor of that. God Bless all of you!