Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 2, 1974 · Page 65
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 65

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 2, 1974
Page 65
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Page 65 article text (OCR)

FIRST TEST OF THE DAY FOR A U.S. SENATOR Sen. Bennett Johnston Stretches to Save an Early Morning Tennis Shot JUGGLING Folks Don't Always Realize What Fills Senator's Day Down-home politics and legislative duty are juggled constantly during a busy U.S. senator's average day. Folks back home, says Sen. Bennett Johnston. D~La., don't always understand. Between phone calls, visitors and answering the mail, Johnston attends to committees and legislation -- his "real business." WASHINGTON (AP) - The junior senator from Louisiana hangs up his telephone with a sigh and looks at the ceiling. "Damn," he breathes. Bennett Johnston has just spent a half hour telling a fellow senator why his pet provision is being cut from legislation Johnston plans to introduce later in the day. "Bill, if our chances wer- .en't so dim anyway, I'd say let's go ahead and leave it in But Bill, let us leave it out. I am for you, but I just don't want to kill the whole bill. It could lose us those one or two key votes." And so it goes ·-- and goes . "Here's the thing Bill. But Bill, don't you see " Bill apparently doesn't see, for he refuses to accept Johnston's reasoning, although he has no choice but to go along!. Finally, Johnston cuts off the conversation. "Let me think about it, Bill," he tells his colleague, but his tone makes clear that he is not about to change his mind. As Johnston hangs up, his personal secretary enters to tell him that two Democratic colleagues, Sen. Edmund S. Muskie of Maine and Sen. Ad- lat E. Stevenson III of Illinois, want to discuss legislative "strategy over lunch at 12:30 p.m. This creates a problem since Johnston is scheduled to preside over the Senate for an hour beginning at 1 p.m. But · the secretary already has taken care of that with a phone call to Sen. Floyd Haskell, who has agreed to take Johnston's place on the floor. "All right," Johnston says. "Now I don't want anybody to interrupt me for the next hour." He said the same thing about an hour ago, but this time he looked like he meant it. »· BETWEEN HIS recalcitrant colleague and a string of unscheduled visitors and callers, Johnston has yet to prepare the statement he will de- liyer in a few hours on the floor of the Senate when he introduces his bill to establish a system of standby wages and price controls. Johnston, 41, says this is probably the single most important piece of legislation he has.handled in-his two plus years in the Senate. For that reason, he explains, today is not entirely typical of what an average day is like for him. But still this day does have the basic ingredients of any other day, requiring him to balance his legislative duties, either in committee or on the, floor, with enough down home politicking to keep the folks back in Louisiana happy. "You can spend all your time politicking," Johnston says, but "if you're doing your job right you're either in committee or on the floor." Many times politics and legislation coincide, such as when Johnston fought to kill an oil rollback that would · have upset a lot of powerful constituents in oil-rich Louisiana. But today his sponsorship of standby economic controls goes against the grain of most of his constituents,.particularly some business- men who happen to be in town. There is going to be some explaining to do this evening when he attends a chamber of commerce cocktail party. This morning, for instance, an influential constituent called to ask why the senator was advocating an immediate and indefinite freeze on all wages and prices. He wasn't. The biggest frustration in being a senator, Johnston says, is "being almost totally' misunderstood and seeming almost powerless to do anything about it." Another frustration is the unwanted but unavoidable interruptions that occur during even the best-planned of days. Each morning when he arrives in his office, Johnston is handed a 5-by-8-inch pink slip and a 3-by-5 green card, both outlining his schedule for the day. Today the schedule shows that his first appointment is not until 4 p.m. But when he arrives in his office a. few minutes past nine, a gentleman from Covington, La., is waiting to see him. Johnston says, "All right, for just a minute." Sen." Johnston The man, a gasoline dealer whom Johnston has helped in gaining relief from the Federal Energy Office, is ushered in for his allotted minute. Johnston says how glad he is that he could help, manages a reference by name to the visitor's wife, tells him to "make this your headquarters while you're here," and walks him to the door, explaining that "today's a big day." That done, Johnston sits down at his desk to discuss his bill with a legislative assistant who is miffed that Muskie and Stevenson have emerged as the principal names on the measure. Johnston puts in a call to Stevenson and starts working his way through the "IN" box on his desk when his secretary comes in with word that a man from the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce is outside. The senator hustles out to where the man is waiting in the outer office. "Today's a big day for us," he warns, before lapsing into a moment of pleasantries about how members of the Baton Rouge delegation managed to miss their plane. Johnston returns to his gold- c a r p e t e d i n n e r s a n c t u m where a call from Stevenson is waiting. The two spend a few minutes planning a floor exchange that will explain the effect standby controls would have on the health care industry. This canned debate, officially known as a "colloquy" is necessary to establish the legislative intent of the bill should it become law, Johnston explains. Hanging up the phone, he t u r n s to a job he says is "worse than anything else in the world" -- answering mail. · His staff already has drafted the needed replies, "but they just don't quite sound right," So he dictates them again. »· NEXT A PHONE call from a Louisiana reporter who wants to know what Johnston will be doing on the floor this afternoon. In midexplanation, Johnston's private phone rings. He answers and proceeds to cut his first secret deal of the day. . "You're going to owe me a lot of favors, pal," Johnston says," Johnston tells his 14-year-old son, spokesman for a powerful special interest group of one. Young Bennett taken car;e of, Johnston is back to the Louisiana reporter and a brief discourse on the Consumer Price Index, as soon as he hangs up, another Louisiana Otherwise. . Tom Fesperman Battling the Landlord Well now, here I was hoping to bring you some cheerful news to brigliten your day and I find I must postpone it at least one more day, because I've got to tell you about this terrible running fight with the landlord, which we lost. The landlord always wins, even if you wage World War II against him and come out with what you think is unconditional surrender. We've just had to pay the Japanese 32-years of back rent, and it upsets -me because I don't think we owed them a dime. The sorry story is that we leased this land in Tokyo in 1896 for our embassy, and the lease was open-ended, forever. The rental was 409 yen a year, or $204.50 at the rate of exchange then. Fair enough, you say. OKAY, so then came this war in 1942, and the Japanese decreed that open- ended leases be transferred to outright ownership. This was due to some strange Oriental thinking that this would get rid of special privileges for foreigners. Don't ask me to explain that, just take my word for it and go on. Well, by the time this outright ownership deaf came up, we weren't in Tokyo, we were off in the Pacific fighting them, and the Swiss government was looking after such chores as paying our rent for us. But the Swiss decided that ownership decree included us, and they stopped paying our rent. And when we got back in there in 1945, we assumed we owned the embassy lot. But in 1968 the Japanese said wait a minute here, you all, you owe 26 years of back rent, and we said the devil you say, how about the ownership deal? The Japanese bowed and said oh, come on, that decree didn't affect Yankee embassy land, and like any landlord they kept holding out the old hand. Well, our folks argued for three years, until 1971, and finally gave in. We will pay, our folks said, but only on the 1896 lease deal, at the 1896 rental rate of 409 yen per the annum. At the 1971 exchange rate, that made the rent $1.14 per the annum. Hold it just a cotton-picking minute, the Japanese said. There's something smelly about that deal, they said. There has been a revaluation of land in Tokyo, they said. The land we rented had increased in value 1,568 times, they said. Looky here, our folks said, back in 1968, when you dunned us, you didn't say a word about that. *· SO FINALLY we worked it out so we paid the rent up to 1968 at the old rate of $1.14 per the annum, a total of about 30 bucks covering the years 1941 to 1968, and for the six years since '68 at a hike- dup rent of $2,300 per the annum. All in all, our folks say, we got out pretty light, considering we were so far in arrears, but I disagree with this attitude. Back in 1945 we could've walked right on in there and taken over the whole country rent free, if -we'd had half a mind to. Leave it to us to win the war and lose the rent. 3E -- J u n e 2, 1974 reporter is brought in to ask the same questions and receive the same answers. He spends the next hour dictating the floor statement now scheduled for 3 p.m., then rushes to keep his lunch date with Stevenson and Muskie. Two steps out the door, he steps, sticks his head back in and asks where the luncheon is being held. Back in the office shortly after 2 p.m. Johnston reads his floor statement aloud to his legislative assistant -"You like that little allusion to an economic ambush?" -and then, for the first time today, heads for the Senate floor. · STEPPING OFF the elevator at the entrance to the chamber, he runs into a trio of labor lobbyists who make one last effort to convince him of the folly of his ways in backing standby controls. Passing into the chamber, Johnston, "the distinguished gentleman from Louisiana," as he's now called, takes a . seat front row center, and shortly launches into his appeal. Only a few senators are present and the press gallery is almost empty. But over in the spectator galleries, his wife, Mary, has just brought in a high school group from Shreveport to . watch their senator in action. Thirty minutes later, Johnston is finished and Muskie takes over, elaborating further on the inescapable need for this legislation. Then opponents of the measure rise to describe at length the havoc it would bring. It's almost 6 p.m. now. The high school group has long since departed, and the galleries are all but deserted. Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey is winding up a lengthy and passionate speech in favor of the Johnston bill. As Humphrey finishes, Johnston rises to compliment the distinguished gentleman from Minnesota on his remarks, adding that if "the Senate as a whole heard that speech I think the bill would be passed overwhelmingly." In fact, two days later it was defeated. The Senate adjourns for the day and Johnston heads back to his office, trying to explain what has been accomplished by so much debate before so few people. At 6:30 Johnston is back in his office, signing the letters he dictated earlier in the day. It is too late to attend the Japanese Embassy reception in honor of the emperor's birthday, but the chamber of commerce is a must. It is 7:45 p.m. now. Johnston's red compact car has been filled with gas and he is on his way. Being late will make it impossible to turn down a dinner invitation from the Louisiana people. He says he tries to keep such social events down to a maximum of two nights a week. "You can really run that sort of thing into the ground," he says, "not getting your real work done. But sometimes, like tonight, "you just can't avoid it. They're good friends and supporters." They are waiting when he arrives, gathering around, shaking his hand. If Bennett Johnston is dreading that inevitable dinner invitation, he is hiding it well' JEN KM L. JONES Where's Mary? It was in the second hour of the p i a n o recital and my grandchildren's fellow pupils were still bravely assaulting the concertos of Mozart and the fugues of Chopin when my eye wandered up and down the names of the performers and I wondered whatever happened to Mary. There was Diana and Tiffani and Sallee and Stacie and Jana and Lisa and Robin. There was also Janette and Laura and Carolyn and Be"cky and Judy and Susan and Linda and Jean Ann. But no Mary. No Elizabeth, no Helen, no Ruth. And you can bet there were no Emmas, Ediths, Emilys or Ethels. *· SO I HAVE gotten out my old college annual, class of '33, and I checked the first 250 females in the graduating class, all of whom were named about 1911 or 12. Mary and Elizabeth were in a dead heat at 14 each. There were 12 Ruths, 10 Helens, nine Dorothys, eight Virginias and Margarets. It wasn't that the parents of so long ago lacked a taste for variety. There were, as a matter of f a c t , 113 d i f f e r e n t names among the 250. But most were good old meat-and- potatoes names like Miriam, Mildred and Mabel, or Grace, Gertrude and Gladys. There was only a sprinkling of fancy and contrivance like Marilla, Pearlanna, Fridola, Wylanta and Jette Lee. If this had been a Southern school there would have been more, for while Yankees may excel at mechanical invention, Southerners are bolder name- smiths. The current nationwide rebellion against traditional names may tell us something about ourselves. The rebellion is strongest in the female line. * WE ARE, it's true, getting more boys named Kevin and Lance, and John shows an increasing tendency to go to Jon or Ian. But Henry, Charles, Joseph, Philip, William, Peter, Thomas and George continue to rule the roost: and except for Henry (prince of the house) and William (helmet- wearer) the most popular male names remain those of saints if not apostles. In our beginnings the Puritan parents put the names of virtues on their children, hoping, no doubt, that they would rub off. We got Faith, Hope, Charity, Patience, Constance, Increase and so forth. Old Testament prophets were always big in America, and they gave us Sam, Abe, Moe, Sol, Ben, Zeke, Dan and Dave. For a time in the 18th and 19th centuries even incompressible minor prophets like Obadiah, Hezekiah and Zechariah were moderately popular. Among American Catholics it was almost de rigeur to n a m e girls a f t e r f e m a l e saints, although this could be fancied up by using foreign spellings like Jeanne, Katrina, Helena, Eleanora, Maria, Ysabel, Therese and so on. THE OLD customs in nomenclature are now breaking down. Just as no one names dogs Fido, Spot and Towser any more, so are we drifting far a-sea in human experimentation. There are fads. In the '50s there was a boom in Pamelas, Debras, Kathys and Karens and in the '60s a short-lived rush to Jackie before Onassis killed it. And now what? In March, I got a long-distance call from California, announcing the birth of my newest granddaughter. "How's that again?" "Spell it." "Never heard of it. Let me get a pencil and paper." "K-E-L-S-I. I never should have bought you that dizzy book on baby names. I knew you'd come up something farther out than the orbit of Jupiter." But Kelsi it is. It's sort of cute at that. Her mother tells me it means "born by the sea" in Gaelic, and they do live a block from the Pacific Ocean. Y e t t h e p a r e n t s h a v e hedged. She's Kelsi Elizabeth. By the time she gets to high school, if she wants to put Kelsi in the ashcan, she can be Betty, Bette, Bess, Beth, Lizbeth, Eliza, Liza, Lizzy, Liz. You can't say the kid's locked in. IT IS perhaps natural that as Americans have fewer children they agonize more over their names. In the old days when every year brought a new arrival to the cabin it must have been more casual. "Shall we call him Hank and the new colt Pete or vice versa?" "I think we'll call her Lulubelle. When I was a little girl I had a goat by that name." Now it's a different ball game. Lebow Linen-look Plaid Outstanding plaid with the crispness of linen. Shown in Lebow's Softailored" Harris Hacking model. Featuring a flattering fitted waistline accented with hacking pockets and deep side vents. The crisp Spring Look stays with the blend of 65% polyester, 25% wool and 10% linen. $ 195 Men's Clothing--Second Floor T

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