George J. Mitchell Oral History Project
 

Interviewer

Andrea L’Hommedieu

Date

2-5-2010

ID Number

GMOH 190

Document Type

Interview

Subject Headings

Angelone, Joe, Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974), Saco (Me.)

Abstract

Biographical Note
Deborah “Debbie” (Bedard) Ward was born in Saco, Maine, on March 22, 1951. She was graduated from Thornton Academy in 1969 and then attended Westbrook College. Subsequently, she worked as a secretary for the Westbrook College Department of Nursing. In 1972, she became involved in reviving the Saco Young Democrats, and in 1973 George Mitchell hired her as the first staff person for his gubernatorial campaign. After Mitchell lost the election to Jim Longley, Ward returned to Westbrook College to work as a house mother. She took the position of calendar clerk for the Maine state legislature, then was elected assistant clerk and held that position for eighteen years.

Summary
Interview includes discussion of: growing up in Saco in the 1950s and 1960s; splitting time between Virginia and Maine; reviving the Saco Young Democrats with Mike Aube and Barry Hobbins when Bill Hathaway ran against Margaret Chase Smith; campaigning as a part of the Young Democrats; being hired by Mitchell; Mitchell’s gubernatorial campaign volunteer base; working with Tony Buxton and Mike Aube; Mitchell’s running against and beating Joe Brennan in the primary; the state party structure; surprise at Longley winning the campaign; working as calendar clerk and assistant clerk for the state legislature; observing Mitchell’s progress to senator; and Joe Angelone.

Restrictions

This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.

TEXT

Andrea L’Hommedieu: This is an interview for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project at Bowdoin College. The date is February 5, 2010, and I’m at the home of Debbie Ward in Saco, Maine, and this is Andrea L’Hommedieu. Debbie, could you start just by giving me your full name.

Deborah Ward: Yes, it’s Deborah (Bedard) Ward, my maiden name is Bedard, and I grew up here in Saco.

AL: You did, and what’s your date of birth?

DW: 3/22/1951.

AL: And so you grew up in the Saco community, and as a matter of fact, in the house we’re sitting in now.

DW: That’s correct, yes.

AL: So it passed down from your parents to you?

DW: Yes, I live in Virginia now, and I still wanted a connection to Maine, and so I come up here quite a bit.

AL: So the ‘50s, the late ‘50s and through the ‘60s were mostly your childhood recollections. What was it like in Saco at that time? Tell me a little bit about the community and your family and what your memories are.

DW: Well, it’s a small community, I mean everybody knew everybody else, you didn’t go anywhere that they didn’t know you or know your parents or whatever. I basically went to three schools here, kindergarten, and then on to Burns School, and then on to Thornton Academy, and I graduated from there in 1969. And I come from a French family, but we did not speak French here because my mother was not French.

AL: Oh, your dad’s side was?

DW: My dad’s side was French and they spoke it, when they got together it was more Canadian French, but they talked French to each other all the time.

AL: And where did your mother hail from?

DW: She’s from Dover, New Hampshire, they met down in Old Orchard Beach. But I did not grow up, unfortunately, learning to speak French. I regret that terribly.

AL: Well, our generation, there weren’t a lot of households where you learned it unless both parents were French.

DW: Right, right.

AL: So what did you do for social activities growing up in Saco, did you do a lot of things around church activities, or was it more in the community?

DW: Well, I did things around church; I was in the Girl Scouts it seemed like forever. When I got into high school we had these two sororities that were not connected to the high school, but I was in one of those and we used to do things, like at Thanksgiving we did Thanksgiving baskets for families who weren’t going to have a Thanksgiving, and at Christmas we did gifts and things like that, so we were pretty community oriented. My folks were very community oriented, so I got a lot of that from them.

AL: Oh, were they.

DW: Yes, very much so.

AL: And what did your parents do for occupations?

DW: My father was a machinist at a company here in Saco called Garland Manufacturing Company, and he worked there for fifty-some odd years, and my mom was a homemaker, but she also had a little side business that she did out of the house, she was a baker, and she was very well known in Saco for her cakes and pies and things like that. When they had a church fair she’d bake pies, and her pies were sold before the fair even opened, and they were excellent, yeah, it was very nice.

AL: And did you have brothers and sisters?

DW: I do, I had an older brother and an older sister, I’m the youngest. And my brother was fifteen years old when I was born, so there was quite an age difference. And my sister’s eight years older than I am, but my brother unfortunately passed away when he was twenty-one. He was in the service, but it was not service related, he got spinal meningitis, and he was over in France, and so that was pretty difficult. And my sister lives here in Saco, she works down at the Saco-Biddeford Savings Bank, and her husband was a teacher at Thornton Academy and is retired from that, and now does some lobstering.

AL: And so you make, you split your time between Virginia and Maine.

DW: Yes.

AL: And are you able to, is that not a bad commute, how do you do it?

DW: Well no, because I fly, it’s only three hours total flying, so that’s pretty good. I try to do it at least once a month, and in the summer I like to try and do it more than that because the Virginia summers are terrible. And I like to try and stay for a week at a time if I can. My children are now in Virginia so it’s a real tug, and I have my first granddaughter who just turned one, so she’s down there. I love to come up here but it’s like I hate to leave her, she’s growing up.

AL: And so tell me, you got out of high school, where did you go from there? I don’t know where you maybe -

DW: I went to Westbrook College in Portland, to an associate’s program as a secretary, and after I got out of school I actually went to work at Westbrook College in the nursing department, I was a secretary for the nursing department for two years. And in high school I’d been in the Saco Young Democrats, and then we kind of folded up, but then as we got older, in our early twenties, we brought it back to life again. Mike Aube and myself and Barry Hobbins, to name a few, we really got involved when Bill Hathaway was running against Margaret Chase Smith, that was our really first big campaign. And we opened up a headquarters, the Young Democrats did.

AL: That was in ‘72, right?

DW: ‘Seventy-two, yes, and there were some of the older Democrats here in Saco that were glad to have young people involved, but then there were some of the others that kind of felt like we were stepping on their toes. And so when we opened this headquarters, they were going to open up their own separate one. And we finally, with my dad and my uncle, who was in the legislature, and some of the people who were supporting us said, “No, these kids have already got this place, let’s work with them,” so we did. But we worked very hard on the Hathaway campaign, and McGovern of course. So it was I think in that light that I kind of became aware of George Mitchell.

AL: And so what sort of things did you do in that ‘72 campaign to support Hathaway, I mean was it stuffing envelopes, you know, everything?

DW: We did everything.

AL: Canvassing?

DW: Canvassing, stuffing envelopes, making telephone calls, back checking at the polls. We actually had Bill Hathaway come here for a day, a Saturday, and we put on a senior citizens breakfast, and I can’t remember where it was now, it must have been in one of the churches that let us use their hall, and I mean we made the eggs and we did the toast, we did it all, and he spoke at that. And then of course Camp Ellis has always had that problem, the erosion problem down there with the beach, and so we had gotten a bunch of the fishermen and everything from Camp Ellis together and we took him down there and had him speak to them. And then we took him down to some shops on Main Street, he’d walk the shops, and then we had a reception for him in our little headquarters. So it was really a full day, and he was pretty pleased with it. And we kept right on plugging along, and we were busy, we were really busy. We did a lot on that campaign and we got out quite a bit of the vote, and he won here in Saco.

AL: Do you recall some of the older Democrats who were supportive of your young enthusiasm?

DW: Yes, Phyllis Deschambeault, she was a register of deeds in York County, and she was always the highest vote getter. And so people loved to be associated with her because she always, in fact I think that day we asked her if she would go around with Hathaway to the shops, to introduce him. So yes, that worked out very well. She was supportive, of course my dad was supportive, and my uncle, and Mike Aube’s parents. And I’m trying to think of who else, most of them were supportive, but there were some who just did not think that the party was ready for us to take it over.

AL: And you mentioned your father being very community oriented, did that also follow that he was politically active at all, or just supportive?

DW: Yes, he was active. Not in the sense that he held a public office, but he was very involved with the local Democratic Party and the county Democratic Party, and went to the state conventions and did things like that. So yes, going back to Muskie in ‘72, when he decided that he wasn’t going to run, at the convention he pulled out, I went to that convention. I had no role, but I went, just to see it, and I flew down with the Maine delegation and, they chartered a plane, and when we flew back the Muskies were on the plane with us. And so I think it was Severin Beliveau and Harold came up to me and said, “Look, you guys are from the southern part of the state, do you think you can call and get some people to the airport to greet Muskie when he…” So I called my father, and one of the pages for the delegation was from Saco and he called his parents, and it turned out there were about fifty, seventy-five people there to meet him, and we’re talking about within hours of calling and getting them to the airport.

AL: But that’s so important though, too, to arrive back in Maine to get greeted by people.

DW: Right, yes, and I think he gave a little speech, and it wasn’t any big thing but he was pleased that people had come. They had signs and everything; I mean they really welcomed him back.

AL: Well, that’s a great story. And so it was around that time that you first, George Mitchell came on your radar?

DW: Yes, and I was still working at Westbrook and, oh, he was just, to me he used to, well still to this day, he has to be the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He has that ability to take complex problems or situations and explain them so that everybody understands, which I just think is fascinating, to watch him do it, it looks like his mind’s working while he’s putting it all together. And so I just thought he was really a nice man, just very nice. And so I had said to him, “If you ever decide to run for office, I’d really like to work for you.”

And I guess he tucked it in the back of his mind, and in 1973, I think it was in September, he hired me, asked me if I’d come to work for him. I was still working at Westbrook College, and it was funny because the day that I was getting ready to tell them that I would be leaving to join the Mitchell campaign, the president of the college, of course Westbrook was a very small college and he had known me as a student and now knew me as an employee, and we were having a reception in the nursing department and he came up and stayed for a while. And he pulled me into one of the classrooms and he said, “Don’t you think it’s time you did something different?” He said, “This is no place for you, you’ve got much more talent than what you’re using here.” And I said to him, “It’s amazing that you should say this,” I said, “because today I’m getting ready to tell them that I’m leaving to join the Mitchell campaign.” Well he was ecstatic; I mean he thought that was wonderful. He had to remind me that it was not his party, but he was thrilled for me that I was going to do it.

And so that’s how it started. In later years, when George would introduce me to people at things, this was long after the campaign was over, he always introduced me as, I was the first political person he’d ever hired.

AL: Really, isn’t that, that’s neat.

DW: Yeah, yeah.

AL: So when you took that position, where was your office, what did you have for resources, what were the first things you had to do?

DW: We didn’t have a whole lot; I can tell you that because this was a whole year before the election, we hadn’t even gone through the primary yet. And thank goodness for Bob Dunfey, he gave us a hotel room that we kind of turned into an office. I don’t remember what floor it was on, but it was in the Eastland Hotel, and Mike Aube and I worked out of there.

AL: Oh, so he just, he gave you a room.

DW: Yes, we had a couple desks but not much else, some phones type thing, and we just started setting the office up and getting ready. And George’s brother-in-law, well Barbara and Eddie Atkins, Eddie was wonderful. I don’t care what we needed for office supplies, we’d call Eddie and Eddie would get it for us, you know, down it would come. They were fabulous.

And so we stayed there, and I don’t exactly remember how long we stayed there, but as we were getting towards really gearing up for the primary, we moved into a storefront on Congress Street, still part of the Eastland Hotel, and it was this one big large room. And George had Herbie Schwartz, who was an interior decorator come in, and I think he did this gratis for us. Well he came in and he designed the office, he put up a wall, and George’s colors were blue, not a Williamsburg blue, but something along those lines, and so we had this big blue wall and he rearranged it. And I was out front as the receptionist, and then in the back were all the workers, Michael and Tony Buxton and Jay McCloskey. But it was wonderful, I mean it was beautiful, it was great, right on Congress Street, big sign, “Mitchell for Governor,” so that was pretty neat.

AL: And so was a lot of it building, must have been building a volunteer base and a voter base.

DW: Yes. Of course we relied a lot on people in the outlying, people on the Democratic committees and those people that were supporting George really supported George, they really helped put all these lists together and all of that. And the Cumberland County people that were supporting George, they were great. There were a lot of these older women, probably they were my age now, but to me then they were older women, that were affectionately dubbed the ‘menopause mob,’ and they would do anything we asked them to do. There was Bernadette Lee (sounds like), Peggy Regan (sounds like), Eleanor Maloney, just these incredible women that, you’d call them up and everything was, “Okay dear, when do you need it?” They were just fabulous, they were just fabulous, because they didn’t hesitate to give George advice. If he was not doing exactly what they thought he should, they did not hesitate to tell him. But they were great, they were really great.

AL: How did George take that sort of advice?

DW: Oh, he took it fine, he didn’t argue with them or anything, he was just always, ‘well I’ll take that into consideration.’ Yes, just very kind to them, yes.

AL: And I interrupted you, do you recall what you were about to say? We were talking about the volunteers, we had the older women, and were there any other groups?

DW: Those are the ones that I, there were a lot of groups on the outside, but this was his main office. So in the beginning we just saw people come in like this, they were, not a lot that I can recall who came into our office, but we had different places that they would go and do things. And I’m trying to remember, it must have been in the general election – and once the cities opened up their own headquarters of course, we didn’t see many volunteers in the main office at all, they would go to the city headquarters and work out of the city headquarters because then it became the Democratic slate, not just George, so. I’m trying to think who else would come into our office.

AL: Well tell me what it was like to work with Tony Buxton and Mike Aube in those early -

DW: We had fun. It was hard work and we did a lot, but it was fun group because we were all about the same age, and there’s nothing like working on a campaign, I would encourage anybody that can to do it, because you basically eat, sleep, whatever with them all day long, I mean this is a commitment. And you’re so into it, because this is where your passion is, it’s right, you want to help elect this person, that you’re willing to do it day and night and lose sleep and all of that. And so we just were really one cohesive group in this office, day and night, just going at it.

A lot more policy became made in our office, and for instance I did all the typing. And the greatest thing – now this is before computers of course, I don’t know if you remember – IBM put out what they called a mag card reader? It was almost like a little floppy disk that you put this disk in and you typed and saved it, and then when you wanted to use it you’d have to keep putting the disk back in and you hit a key and it would type the whole thing out for you.

Well, I think it was Berl Bernhard, from Washington, that was doing a fund-raising letter for George. And I don’t know how many hundreds of these letters I had to do. And every time you got finished a letter you’d have to take that thing out and put it back in to do the next letter, so it was in and out. And I had a friend come to help me one night, she was going to do some volunteer work, I said, “Well why don’t you do some of those letters for me?” Well, she got reading the letters and there had been a typo, and I was like, ‘oh God, I can’t believe.’ Luckily, George hadn’t seen it, because I know he would have said something, and I’m hopeful that Berl Bernhard didn’t see it either. But she caught it, and because that machine was so easy, we were able to make the correction, and of course you couldn’t correct the ones that had already gone out, but from then on it was okay.

But that machine was really a life saver, because George insisted that every meeting he went to, whoever was with him had to get a list of the people that were there, and we sent thank you notes to everybody who attended a meeting that he went to. I can still remember most of those, we always started out with, “Just a note to thank you for coming to” wherever. But he insisted on it. So I bet some of these people around the state probably have fifty or sixty of these letters that they got from George over the course of that campaign.

AL: It’s probably, even though it’s an incredible amount of work, only in Maine could you probably possibly do it.

DW: Oh, I know, oh yes. And it’s effective; I mean people love to get a thank you note for coming. I think George was really happy with these, I mean obviously he was happy, but I mean I think he really felt that these people should be thanked for taking the time to come out.

AL: And show interest, civic involvement.

DW: Right, right.

AL: So talk a little bit about as that primary proceeded, George ultimately won the primary.

DW: Won the primary, yes, yes, that was very exciting, because he beat Joe Brennan.

AL: Right, and also in Maine, everybody knows everybody, was that pretty tough to be against another Democrat that was well known?

DW: Oh, yes, we had somebody, Michael and I, both of us came from Saco, Lloyd LaFountain was a candidate in the primary, and Barry Hobbins worked for him, and I went to school with Barry from kindergarten on up, and Michael was just a year ahead of us, so we always kind of got the razz that we weren’t supporting the local person, because we were supporting George. So yes, it was tough because, well I didn’t know who all some of the people were because I was just getting basically into politics and everything. There were a lot of hard feelings when that primary was over.

AL: Locally, or -?

DW: Well, statewide, I mean people who -

AL: The Brennan supporters, right.

DW: The Brennan supporters, yes, a lot of hard feelings, and I think inevitably led to George’s defeat. I don’t think they could cross that line and support George in the general, so I think that that had a lot to do with it.

AL: I’m interested to know if, when there’s a hard fought primary like that within one party, the Democratic Party in that primary, did you have any sense from the state party structure how the state party was effective? I mean, they have to play a neutral role, they’re there to support Democrats in general. I guess I’m asking, did you ever get a sense of how they balance that?

DW: Well, they balance it by - They just don’t take any position. Of course the people within, you know, each have their own feelings, but pretty much, when you come together as the state committee, you’re there for the good of the whole party, regardless of what your individual feelings are, because the party’s going to go on, and obviously the business that everybody’s going to pull together afterwards and elect a Democrat to office. I don’t think that there were any problems during the primary in terms of the party itself, I think everybody was just supporting their own person but looking forward to the party coming together afterwards.

AL: And so what was the campaign like? Obviously, in the end Longley won. Do you have a sense of when your campaign started to feel that Longley was gaining ground, or was it a total surprise?

DW: It was a total surprise to me. I can’t say that it was to the others on the campaign. Because I was so busy, I mean some days I might come down and work out of Biddeford, and then at the end of the campaign I was working a lot in the Saco headquarters, working with those people, so I wasn’t always, we didn’t have cell phones so that we were in touch with people all the time like people are today. I guess I had removed myself near the end of that from what was actually going on in there, so, and then of course the Maine Sunday Telegram, if I remember correctly, endorsed George, the Sunday before the election, so I was like, ‘oh my God, this is great.’ And then when that Tuesday night rolled around, I was absolutely devastated. We had worked so hard, and we just said it was so wrong, you know, the state was going to be the loser because George wasn’t elected. It was tough; it was very, very tough. And for me, I had basically put all my eggs in one basket, George was going to win, ‘hey, I’m going to have a job in Augusta.’ I didn’t think anything beyond that. So it was very tough, for me it was.

AL: And how did he handle it? You must have been all together on election night.

DW: Yes. Well, which was George, I mean obviously in front of all of us he, ‘it’s what it is.’ We didn’t spend time analyzing what we did wrong, or what we could have done or whatever. But the next morning he had us all down in the campaign office at eight o’clock, he came in and just really thanked us all for everything we’d done, and came around and hugged all of us individually, and it was tough to be way up here thinking everything’s great and then to have that happen, yes, it was just like getting the chair knocked out from underneath him. Yes, it was very tough.

AL: And underneath you, too. What did you end up doing next?

DW: Interesting, I didn’t know what I was going to do. And that old Westbrook College called me and said, “We have a house mother’s position open.” Now, I’m only twenty-three years old, and these kids are like eighteen to twenty, and I’m only three years older. And I thought, ‘oh, my goodness, what am I going to do?’ Well, I don’t have anything else to do, so off I went, back to Westbrook, moving in a dorm with all these kids. And that was pretty rough, that was pretty rough.

But over the course of the campaign, and of course that year the Democrats took over control of the Maine House, which they hadn’t done that since the ‘60s. So it was like everybody was ‘hurray for that,’ and so Mike Aube and Frank Wood, who was a volunteer on the campaign, and O’Neal Leblanc, who worked on the campaign, they all got jobs in Augusta. Michael became the document clerk, and Frank became the sergeant-at-arms, and I didn’t know what I could do up there, because none of this sounded interesting to me.

So I became friends with Fred Nutter at Channel 6, because they were right upstairs from us, and they were always really good. We’d run up there with press releases that George wanted to put out on this, that or whatever, and we’d bring it up there, and they’d take it and they always ran with it, they were really, really good to us. And I called him and I said, bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have anything to do. He suggested I call Ed Pert, who was the clerk of the House. I said, “I don’t even know him.” He says, “Oh, he’s a great man, he was clerk before he was a member of the House,” he said, “he’s a nice guy.” He said, “Give him a call,” he said, “he might have a position.” So I said, “Oh well, okay.” So I said, “I don’t even know what the clerk of the House did.” I had no idea what went on behind the scenes with the legislature, that was nothing I knew anything about. So anyway I called, and I got an interview. Now, this was in maybe December of that year, and so I went up and I interviewed with Ed, and he said, “Well I’ll have to get back to you on it,” he said,” I don’t know exactly right now, and I’m still interviewing people, but I’ll get back to you.” So I said, “Well okay.”

So I stayed on at Westbrook, and while I was at Westbrook, what I would do is, at night I would go down to George’s law office, which is where he had moved my little mag card typing machine, and I would sit there and run all of the thank you notes for everybody that worked on the campaign, all the volunteers, everybody, I would do that night after night after night. And probably the saddest thing would be when I’d get a big bunch of them, George would come in at night and he would sit down, he would sign every single one of these letters. And that was so sad for me, because here I was typing these letters about losing an election, and there was George having to come in and sign them. But he felt very strongly that he was going to be the one to sign these letters, and he put personal notes on everything. Even the little thank you notes that I did during the campaign, he would sign and put ‘thank you,’ he’d write something special on each letter. It was incredible. And remember names -

AL: You’d have to have a good memory, I was going to say.

DW: Always remember names and faces, oh, that astounded me, how he could do that. It was incredible. But so anyway, getting back to going to work after that, so I didn’t hear from Ed, I didn’t hear anything. And then, so it’s coming around to the kids were going home for vacation at college, over Christmas, and they wanted to know what I was going to do. I said, “Well, I’m really looking for a job for something else, I don’t see this as being my career. But I will commit to stay with you through January, but then after that I don’t know.”

Well finally Ed calls me. I guess it was right in the beginning of January, it must not have been, it must have been [a] couple weeks before January 1st, and I said, “Well I’m sorry,” he offered me a job, and I said, “I’m sorry, I’ve just committed to Westbrook College for the month of January.” And I don’t have this firsthand, I was told this afterwards that, and Frank Wood, who was already up there and was in John Martin’s office (of course John was the speaker), and that Ed went in and said, “She won’t come. I offered Debbie the job and she’s not taking it, she’s committed to go through January.” And John said, “Well tell her she can come in February,” so that’s what they did.

I know George had talked to John about, I mean he did a lot to help all of us get jobs – Tony Buxton got a job up there, Barry Valentine was up there – so John was very good about helping those of us who had been employed in the campaign. So anyway, I went up. They suggested that since the kids were on break and the legislature was going, and if you believe it or not, on January 1st, New Year’s Day was their opening day, that I should come up and see what was going on. So I said, “Okay,” so I went up. And Ed said to me, the daily calendar that they put together for the members, I’d never seen one before, and he kept bringing me these things to type, and they were things that were for the calendar. And he looked at me and he said, “Well how do you like typing the calendar?” “Well, it’s all right,” I mean I was typing verbatim, what they told me, it was just copying something out of a book, no thought behind it. I said, “It’s all right.” He said, “Okay, well you can be the calendar clerk.” I said, “Okay.” I had no idea what that was.

And of course then I left and came back to Westbrook, and then eventually went up there in February. Well, the calendar clerk was a lot more involved than I ever realized it was, and if I had known what he was asking me to do, I would have said no. But it all worked out well because that first year I typed the calendar, and I really got to know the process, I really learned the parliamentary procedure, and where bills go and how they get through the process, and the steps. Then the second year, the person who was the assistant clerk took a leave, so they appointed me to fill in for him, and then at the next election I got elected and I stayed there for eighteen years, as assistant clerk. And then I took over for Ed when he retired.

AL: So later on, did you ever get involved in more of George Mitchell’s campaigns, or was that really once you went into (unintelligible)?

DW: I think by then – I’m trying to think. Well, I was thrilled when Brennan appointed him to take over for Muskie when Muskie got the [secretary of state appointment].

AL: In 1980, yes.

DW: And the room, the day that, because we all heard whisperings that he was going to appoint George, that was who it was going to be, and so everybody, Chuck Cianchette, I could really remember him, but a lot of the people who had worked on George’s campaign, even just as volunteers, came to Augusta, and this room was packed with George supporters when Brennan was going to make the announcement. And sure enough, he made the announcement that it was George, and all I remember was turning around looking at Chuck Cianchette, and we were both were like this, with our thumbs up, just thrilled, just thrilled for him. George needed to be in an elected position, he had too much to offer to not be in a policy making position. And we were just absolutely thrilled for him. But I think after that, I didn’t get involved directly in a campaign.

AL: Just like as an interested observer?

DW: Yes. I mean because of my job, I was involved in a lot of the House races themselves, when they came around. But, and I’m trying to think, he took over for Muskie it must have been in ‘81, ‘82?

AL: ‘Eighty.

DW: ‘Eighty, was it ‘80?

AL: May of ‘80, and then he had to run, the reelection was in ‘82.

DW: Okay, no, I wasn’t involved. My daughter would have been just a baby then, so I wasn’t, but that added responsibility. No, I didn’t participate that year, for sure. So no, I didn’t, but I always followed what George did, and whenever George came to the State House I was always there to greet him and say hello to him. But it was a wonderful experience, absolutely wonderful. His family’s great, his brother.

AL: You got to know them a little?

DW: His brother Robbie, and his brother Swisher, and their wives, Janet and Prin, and Barbara, his sister. I didn’t know his brother Paul too well, he wasn’t as involved, at least with us, as the others were. But yes, they were great. And Sally, I knew Sally, and Andrea.

AL: Was Sally very visible or active in that gubernatorial campaign, or sort of quietly?

DW: No, she wasn’t. We always got the impression that she did not want George to be in politics, so no, I mean she was not out there giving speeches or anything like that. But I liked Sally a lot, and I felt, this was another area, I told Sally at one point, I said, “If George wins, I don’t want to work for him,” I said, “I’d like to work for you in the Blaine House.”

AL: Oh, that’s neat.

DW: And I just want to get one thing in about Joe Angelone, we talked about him. He was, of course he had his pizza parlor right up the street from us, on Congress Street. That man fed, I mean we did not make much money. I think, and I hope I’m not mistaken in this, I think I made maybe between, somewhere between twenty-five and thirty-five dollars a week, working for George. We never had any money. And we’d run up there with our heads hung and we’d say, “Joe, can we have a pizza, or can we have…?” He never said no, he just always gave us whatever we wanted. “Anything else you need, you sure, is that enough?” Or we’d go up there and just ask him, just to get away, out of the office for a minute, just go sit up there, and he was just always great to us, always.

AL: I mean it’s a different, another kind of support in terms of the campaign and, well young people especially are usually short on money.

DW: Oh yes, and we were, that’s for sure. But he was wonderful to us.

AL: Is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you think is important to add?

DW: No, I can’t think of anything.

AL: Well, I thank you so much for your time.

DW: Well thank you.

End of Interview

 
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Interview with Debbie Ward by Andrea L’Hommedieu

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