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Wry Observations on Dry Politics October 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, People.
34 comments

After my grandfather retired, he ran for the State Legislature in Vermont and served a few terms as Town Representative for Hartland.   While serving, he peppered letters to my dad with wry observations on otherwise dry politics.

Margaret & Walter at my parents' wedding, 1955

Margaret & Walter at my parents’ wedding, 1955

1956

8/5 ~ Hartland: “The date is closed for filing for Town Rep.  No one else filed as far as I know.  I ought to be able to win I guess.  To lose, I would have to fall on my face or die.”

9/13 ~ Results of primary on 9/11.  “The total vote was 155. Senator Aiken received 145. Representative Prouty received 144. Walter Hatch received 140. I had expected to win but had expected there might be more who would not vote for me.”

11/7 ~ Results of election. “Hartland had a big turn-out to vote. Some 75% of the clerk’s list. The total vote cast was 595. I got 452 out of a possible 500. That needs explaining. Max Rogers only had 500 Representative ballots printed. The last 95 could not vote on Town Representative. So politics is over for a bit.”

Damon Hall ~ Hartland Vermont

1957

1/1 ~ New Year’s Greetings with exuberant good wishes and details of his new suit for Montpelier.  “I have bought a new suit in reddish brown gray.  It is said to look well with gray hair, a little thin, you know, on top.”

1/12 ~ Montpelier:  “I am now officially a member of the Honorable General Assembly.” Details of 1st week.  “As ever, your “Honorable Dad.”

6/13 ~ Montpelier: “We are nearly through with our work in the House except for such bills as come from the Senate.  They are behind us with their work again this year.”

1958

9/2 ~ “Politics are getting hotter.  I still have no contest, but the Senate race and Lt. Governor are interesting.”

9/10 ~ Hartland: “Dear Richard & Barb, etc.  The “etc.” is also important.  I have been watching the TV for two or three evenings.  Last night was the VT and NH Primaries.  Of course, I had to sit up for that.  The vote was light I would say.  Too bad people don’t take more interest.  I think they would sit up and think some if they lost the right.  It was quiet here in Hartland.  No contests.  Out of a total of 214 ballots, I got 203.  Of course, these are Primaries.  As you know, the real election is in November.”

11/6 ~ Hartland: “I will write to give you the results of the election. With a total vote cast of 384, I had 352. Stafford (Rep.) for governor got 260 while the Democrat candidate polled 111. Since no one was running against me, I got quite a few votes from Democrat voters. State wide, we have a democrat for the lone Representative to Congress for the first time since before the Civil War.”

Governor Robert Theodore Stafford (in Public Domain)

1959

1/16 ~ Hartland:  “We are off to a flying start in Legislation activity.  Robert Stafford is our Governor.  I worked for his election so was satisfied.  On Thursday, the retiring Governor gave his farewell address before a formal Joint Assembly with the Supreme Court in attendance in robes, etc.  After lunch, we met again in like manner to hear Gov. Stafford’s address.  Committee assignments were read Thursday. I am on the State and Courts Expense Committee.  I do not know all the types of bills we have to process.  The Chairman is a man named Lawrence.  I liked his reports in the last session but did not get to know him then.  Today I read over a part of the Attorney General’s Report.  It is a 200 page book giving opinions of the past 2 years and cases he tried, etc.  I figured I better know something of his thoughts because we will have to work with him in our committee quite a lot.”

5/24 ~ “Legislature is in its last days but may last a week or possibly two.  It is a split session and I expect to work some in October or November getting some bills ready for Jan. 12 1960 when the final part of this session will meet and eventually close.”

9/6 ~ Hartland: “I have to be in Montpelier the 21st for as long as committee meetings last thereafter.  I am quite interested in the outcome of the coming visits between Russia and the U.S.  I expect both lies and bluster mixed in with honey ~ for peace.”

12/13 ~ “It is 10 minutes walk to the dome. Ray Heyser, the House Speaker, was in town and ate dinner with 6 or 7 of us. After dinner, Ray cornered me and grinned and said, “How are you getting on, Walter? How do you like the committee I put you on?” I told him I hoped I was doing all right. He went off with a wicked gleam in his eye. And so we go. ”

Vermont State House, circa 1870

1960

1/31 ~ Hartland:  “The third week of the session is over and we are getting on quite well.  The first big bill #386 passed the house and senate and is back in the house with minor amendments. The second #392 which dealt with consolidation of departments is through 2nd reading.  There was an attempt made to amend it to death.  We upset the amendment and I did some of the talking against it.  I orated in my best form that:

“No one should as a public servant be appointed for life. We want no Kingdom of Education!  Let me point out: an indefinite appointment may perpetuate a poor policy equally as a good. I hope you see fit to defeat the amendment.”

Very dramatic.  And with those short and simple words, I sat.  Well I have rambled on and I hope you can get at least some of the picture of what happens as you make a law.  We have got a good committee if I do say it and we were all happy Friday night but trying hard not to appear smug.”

8/26 ~ Hartland:  “Louis Springer is filed to run for Representative also, so we are in a contest.  It is friendly so far.  I encouraged him to file and let the voters decide it Sept. 11.”

My grandparents' home in Hartland Vermont, circa 1972

My grandparents’ home in Hartland Vermont, circa 1972

9/13 ~ Hartland: “We vote today. News later.” “8 PM ~ I just returned from the hall. I seem to have won in the Town Representative count: 133 to 118 for Springer. Unless someone files by petition, I will have to work in Montpelier again this Winter.”

11/14 ~ Hartland:  “I was disappointed when Nixon lost and by so little. However, we have to live and not wring our hands.  Here in town, Stafford won over Meyers and Keyser is governor.  Hartland had a big vote out ~ 644 (72%). My vote was 558 as I had no one running against me.  We went to Montpelier and got a place to stay engaged.”

1961

1/4 ~ Montpelier: “Here we are again “under the Dome.” Tomorrow is Governor’s Ball. We may go and watch awhile. And so it goes.”

State House, Montpelier Vermont (in Public Domain)

1/11 ~ Montpelier: “Roy Lawrence read Committee appointments this morning. Evo is chairman of State and Court and I am Vice Chairman. You can see I will soon be Governor or something. Probably something.”

3/19 ~ “Our committee has requests in various bills for pay raises of $2,100,000 per year.  Revenue is off just now so I fear we will have to use a knife and pare them down some.  Not so pleasant to do.”

7/10 ~ Hartland: The 200 Year Celebration.  “Margaret is mailing a parcel for Nancy. And tomorrow back to the snake pit.”

7/25 ~ Montpelier: “I thought we would close the session this week but the senate is stalling (11 to 2 for lunch today). I visited the Senate afternoon session. It ran exactly 20 minutes. It was a stall session. Most people in both houses are disgusted but it is not easy to force the Senate leaders.”

7/31 ~ Montpelier: “We are really on our final week. I shall be glad to be out of it. A few people are cleaning out their desks as far as possible ready to leave tomorrow.”

1962

7/27 ~ Pavilion Hotel, Montpelier: “I am called to a Special Session to consider 4 matters.  It was nice to see everyone and I have had some good visits.  I talked with the Governor a few minutes.  I presume I will be up here into next week.  It depends on the Senate.  It is a lot of in fighting done with a smiling face.  I have kept a lot of notes on what I have learned in various ways.  It is as interesting as “Advise and Consent.” ”

Pavilion Hotel, Montpelier VT (in Public Domain)

8/7 ~ Montpelier: “We are still tied in a reapportionment deadlock with the Senate. It is a power play. The cost is about $25,000 per week while it lasts. I expect you are back home. We had a nice visit at the lake.”

8/15 ~ Hartland: “The Special Session of the Vermont Legislature has passed into history. It was an interesting session and I expect my last.”

1963

1/12 ~ Hartland: “I have been watching the start of the 1963 Session in the papers. I don’t feel too much of an itch to be there. I believe I am getting lazy.”

Aah . . . that’s better!