George J. Mitchell Oral History Project
 

Interviewee

Jeanne Hollingsworth

Interviewer

Mike Hastings

Date

11-8-2008

ID Number

GMOH 048

Document Type

Interview

Subject Headings

Administrative staff, Maine politics, Trade, U.S. Senate retirement, Veterans' Affairs Committee

Abstract

Biographical Note
Jeanne Hollingsworth was born in McCook, Nebraska, on September 18, 1948, to Barbara (Davis) and John Robert Hollingsworth. She spent her early years in Holbrook, Nebraska, on her father’s cattle ranch with five siblings. The family moved to Kearney, Nebraska, when she was twelve, and from there they moved to Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, where Jeanne attended high school and her father was in the furniture business. She attended North Georgia Military College for two years and became interested in politics because of the Vietnam War and the peace movement. She traveled for some years between Maine and Georgia, finally settling in Maine and becoming increasingly interested in organic gardening and MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association). It was through her political activities with that group and the pesticide issue that she met Tom Bertocci. She was hired to work for Senator Mitchell in the Rockland, Maine, state field office in 1986, established good veterans’ relations, and remained until 1994. She worked in Washington, DC, for six years, first with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and then at USAID. She returned to Maine in 2000 when the administration changed and has continued to be involved with local politics.

Summary
Interview includes discussion of: family and educational background; attending the North Georgia Military College; the peace movement; becoming a hippie and waitressing; the Atlanta Underground; living in Atlanta in the early ‘70s; Volkswagen bus trip to Maine; gardening and Craig; MOFGA and organic agriculture politics; working for Senator Mitchell as a case worker in the field out of the Rockland office; satisfaction with veterans’ issues and Agent Orange; getting Mitchell to visit island high schools; the veterans’ events and Mitchell’s passing out the Pearl Harbor medals; Portland and Russian sailors involved with a joint fishing venture as a trade issue; the surprise and disappointment of Mitchell leaving office; points about working as a senate aid in the field; working in Washington; and reconnecting with Mitchell employees.

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

Mike Hastings: The following is an oral history for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project, an activity of Bowdoin College. The date is Saturday, November the 8, 2008, I am Michael Hastings, the interviewer; the interviewee is Jeanne Hollingsworth.

Jeanne Hollingsworth: That’s correct.

MH: Who lives in Lincolnville, Maine. This interview is taking place in Camden, Maine, at 122 Mechanic Street, which is an establishment called The Garden Institute, and Jeanne can tell us a little bit about that later on. And I’m going to begin, Jeanne, by saying hello, thank you for doing this. Could you begin by stating your full name, including all the names you’ve got, and then spelling your surname for me.

JH: My name is Jeanne, and it’s J-E-A-N-N-E, Hollingsworth. I wasn’t given a middle name, because girls get married and then they have three initials, so none of us girls in my family have a middle name. I was born September 18, 1948, in McCook, Nebraska.

MH: McCook?

JH: That’s right.

MH: Nebraska, okay, McCook, Nebraska. Can you state your parents’ full names.

JH: My mother’s name is Barbara Davis Hollingsworth, and my father’s name was John Robert Hollingsworth.

MH: Okay, let’s begin by talking about your mother and father, tell me your father’s story.

JH: Oh, my father was the only son of three children of a Scottish immigrant named Elizabeth Rankin and Justin Marcellus Hollingsworth, who was a Quaker from Virginia who came out to Nebraska by wagon train to start a newspaper. The Cambridge Clarion still exists, and he founded that in the late 1880s, married my grandmother just before 1900. And my father was a late baby; he was very spoiled by his Uncle John, who left him a cattle ranch, which is where I was born. We lived on that ranch until I was about ten years old.

MH: How many cattle?

JH: My father raised registered Hereford bulls, so we ran about two hundred head on about two thousand acres, on the Republican River, and my mother says the river was named after the party, and I’m the first Democrat in the family in many generations, to her great chagrin.

MH: Was it a long way from town?

JH: It was only a couple miles from town, but the little town I grew up in, Holbrook, only had a population of about 250 people, and that included all the residents of farms within a ten mile radius. So this was a teeny-tiny town.

MH: So the next biggest town was McCook?

JH: Was Cambridge, where my father was born, and McCook was about I think forty-five miles away, but it was the nearest big town.

MH: What was it like growing up on a cattle farm?

JH: It was wonderful; that’s where I got my sense of imagination that’s lasted me to this day, because you had to make up everything to play, you played with your brothers and sisters and maybe the kids, the farm kids down the road, but you played by yourself a whole lot so you just learned to make believe a lot of things and be very imaginative.

MH: So did your farm, did you have any other kinds of animals besides bulls, or - ?

JH: We had pigs, and we had chickens, we had a farm family that stayed down the road -

MH: Who worked the farm with you.

JH: They worked part of the farm for my father, and they had the vegetable garden, and I doubt if they were really a whole lot different than sharecroppers. I just remember them being very poor, and the little girl’s name was Wanda and she had orange hair. But it was probably very common for these people to be almost migrant workers, that didn’t stay more than a year or two, so we had a couple families come and go while I was there. And they were our closest neighbors, really.

MH: How many brothers and sisters?

JH: I had six, there were six of us, there are now four left. But we had to move off the ranch, because we lived in a tiny little house, and my mother was going to have, she thought, a baby, that turned out to be two babies, but there just wasn’t room so we had to move.

MH: I see, and so where did you move to?

JH: We moved into Holbrook, a couple miles away.

MH: And what did your father do then?

JH: By then my grandfather had died, and he left my father his insurance agency, or his partnership in the insurance agency, and my Uncle John had also died. And a story I learned when I was much older was that one of my father’s cousins had contested Uncle John’s will – Uncle John was a very wealthy man, and my dad was his favorite nephew. He wasn’t married, so all his estate was split among all the remaining relatives equally, except for my father who got the ranch. And this cousin thought that my father should pay his proportionate share of the inheritance tax, and not have it divided equally among the number of recipients, and that meant we had to sell the ranch.

MH: So he was successful contesting it.

JH: Yes, he was. And it was very sad because that’s all my father had ever wanted to do, and that’s all he’d ever done. And now he had five children, and an insurance agency.

MH: Did he take to the insurance business?

JH: No, he did not. He was a wood worker by hobby, a very good wood worker. So we sold the house in Holbrook and moved, now there were six children, and moved to Kearney, Nebraska, which was a couple hours away, but felt like a whole other place because we were in the start of the foothills of the Rockies, so it was rolling country, it wasn’t the sand hills lots of people think, and wasn’t flat prairie, it was beautiful rolling hills. And Kearney was flat, flat, flat.

MH: So how old were you when you went to Kearney, approximately?

JH: I was going into sixth grade, so I was going to be twelve, probably.

MH: Your schooling was public schools in these towns?

JH: All public schools. The only other schools were Catholic schools, we didn’t have private schools.

MH: All small schools, or larger schools?

JH: The school I went to through sixth grade was kindergarten through twelfth grade in one building, and my class, being a baby-boomer class, was one of the largest, and we started off with I think twelve kids, and a couple moved away, and by the time they graduated I think there were six kids. There was a big dropout rate because guys had to go to work on the farms, so they just didn’t finish school.

MH: So your summers when you were growing up were spent on the farms, or did you, did you travel much, or?

JH: No. I remember the first vacation we took, we went to Sioux City, Iowa, which was across the river, and we went to a cattle show in Denver, by train, we went on the Zephyr.

MH: The Zephyr goes from Chicago to Denver?

JH: Chicago to Denver, came right through Arapahoe, which was another little town next door. And I can remember getting on that train, and by then there were six of us but we left my littlest brother at home, so the five kids and my mom and dad went to Denver and stayed in the Brown Palace, and my dad was showing bulls at the Denver stock show, so there was a huge rodeo. It was a big deal, the stock show was a big deal.

MH: I’ve heard of the Brown Palace but never been there. Where’d you go to school after that?

JH: Then I went to Kearney Junior High, well I started sixth grade in an unusual school on the campus of Kearney State Teachers College. We were the teaching school for the student teachers, so instead of going around to different schools and doing student teaching, they came to our classes. And we’d have two and three student teachers in the morning and two or three different student teachers in the afternoon, every single quarter, or semester or whatever, they changed, so we were overloaded with student teachers. And our teacher was a teacher of teachers, he wasn’t really our teacher. So it was an unusual situation. We got a lot of attention, and we were on the campus of the school so we had music in the music room at the school, and had access to all kinds of instruments, we could try all different kinds of things, we were taught different languages, because there were different nationality people coming to the school.

MH: What languages did you learn?

JH: We were exposed to French and Spanish and German. My littlest sister had Spanish every year; I was only there for one year. But it was pretty interesting, you were going to school on the campus of a college, you were in sixth grade.

MH: And middle school and high school?

JH: Middle school was separate, yeah, junior high, and then after eighth grade we moved to Canada. We moved to Kearney, and my dad bought a woodworking shop that did millwork to finish door frames and window frames in institutional buildings, and a great big firm moved into Kansas and there were six little shops like my dad’s in the Kansas-Nebraska corridor there that all were put out of business. So we moved to Canada, and that was quite an adventure.

MH: Where in Canada?

JH: Southern Ontario, Kitchener-Waterloo is about an hour from Toronto, yes, an hour from Toronto.

MH: Now what was the lure of Canada, was either of your parents from there, or they have any connections there?

JH: My dad’s army buddy and best friend had a furniture shop there. His father-in-law invented shampoo bowls, when you go to a beauty salon or barber shop, I don’t know, they have those bowls with the neck -

MH: The neck place, you lean back in it.

JH: That was invented by Lois Hennessey’s father, and I can’t remember his name, in Belvedere, Illinois, and they started that whole thing. Then they started a line of furniture for beauty salons, the counters, the stations where people do the work, and the chairs where you sit under the dryers, and my father went to Canada because Kitchener-Waterloo was a German town and they had a lot of German immigrants who were good upholsterers, it was just a pocket. So they started this plant there, and they did the chairs, that was their job, was to make the chairs for the dryers.

MH: Chairs for the hair dryers.

JH: The chairs for the hair dryers.

MH: That’s fascinating. But did, you say your father has died.

JH: He did.

MH: Your mother still live in Canada?

JH: My mother lives downstairs from me.

MH: Oh, okay, here in Lincolnville.

JH: In Lincolnville, it was a long journey for her. But we were only there three years, and I didn’t want to leave, I loved Canada. But Ontario had grade thirteen, beyond grade twelve in the public schools was actually a free year of college, because after grade thirteen you could get a bachelor’s degree in three years. So it was an excellent school system, absolutely unbelievably progressive. I think they realized that children of immigrants were probably not going to finish school, so their goal was to give them a good education in the three years they were going to have them. So they had special, it was called shops and technical trades, and it was a three-year program, and at the end of that time the kids could balance their checkbooks, they knew a bit about history, they knew how to read, they knew some basic math and those skills, but they had a trade. They could go into an automotive plant -

MH: This is all post-secondary.

JH: This is in high school. They attended the same school and they took some of the classes from the same teachers we had, but the bulk of their day was spent in the technical area they were in. And they had plumbing, they had electricity, electricians, they had secretarial, and automotive. So these kids got out of school, they never graduated but when they left they could go out and make a decent living.

MH: I’m confused, how long did you go through this system?

JH: I was only there three years.

MH: Three years, so you left at grade -

JH: Eleven, I finished eleventh grade there. But you had to decide in tenth grade whether or not you were going to college, because you had to get on either a five-year track or a four-year track, or the three-year track. And if you were in the five-year track, there were things you started taking in tenth grade that, if you didn’t, hadn’t decided to go on to college, you wouldn’t qualify by the time you got to the twelfth grade, you’d never be able to get into thirteenth grade, and you couldn’t get into college without it then, in Ontario anyway. So it was quite a burden to place on kids to make that decision so early on, plus you had to also decide on a major because you would take extra, we had ten classes a day, and they were short, but you had to decide if you wanted extra history classes, or you were going into something where you’d take anthropology history, geography, instead of languages, foreign languages. You had to take French, that wasn’t a foreign language, and you had to take a foreign language.

MH: So was instruction in French?

JH: We had one day a week, a two-hour French class in tenth grade where we could speak no English.

MH: Has it stayed with you at all?

JH: I would imagine if I got over being self-conscious about it, I can still hear and, but it’s been forty-something years, so, and there’s a lot other things I’ve forgotten besides French.

MH: So where after eleventh grade?

JH: Tucker, Georgia.

MH: Okay.

JH: It was night-and-day. I arrived there, because I went to summer camp, and I took the bus, everybody else had moved to Georgia, I took the bus down, a long bus ride, and I got in on like a Sunday and started school on Monday.

MH: From Omaha to -?

JH: No, this is from Canada.

MH: From Canada, right, I’m sorry -

JH: To Georgia. That’s all right.

MH: Canada to Georgia, that’s a long bus ride.

JH: That’s a long bus ride.

MH: Two days?

JH: Yes, and I can remember sitting up on the step beside the driver, he let me sit there because I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited. But I got in like a Sunday and started school on Monday, and I couldn’t understand people. It was such a thick southern accent that I really had a hard time understanding what people were saying. And in Canada we’d learned to say “pardon” instead of “huh.” So you get to school and these guys are having, football is huge, and they’re going to have a football game and they have these ribbons that you wear, and it says “Tucker pounds the Coyotes,” or whatever, whoever we were playing, the Tigers, and they were saying, “Get your Tucker-Tiger ribbons right here, get your Tucker-Tiger ribbons right here,” and we’d go, “Pardon? Pardon?” And we still couldn’t understand what they were saying; they’d just give us a ribbon.

I walked into French class, and I loved French and I thoroughly intended, I’d looked at going into being an interpreter or something like that, I just loved it. I had an aptitude for foreign languages, and I walked into senior French and the French teacher says, “Comment allez-vous, y’all?” And that was the last day I went to that class. It was a shock. And I’d already had so many classes that they really weren’t going to let me take any classes, because they were doing solely by numbers, and I needed like thirty-five credits to graduate Tucker, and I already had fifty-five. So, I had to have senior English, I had to have senior math, and they wouldn’t let me take typing, I never learned how, I had taught myself how to type many years later, they wouldn’t let me take typing, they wouldn’t let me take anything. That was it. I worked in the principal’s office three of the six classes a day. I hated it.

MH: But you’re a graduate of Tucker.

JH: I’m a graduate -

MH: And you say that’s in Atlanta?

JH: It’s in Tucker, which is a suburb of Atlanta. And I was taking history; that was the other class I had to have, and Tucker, Georgia, had the distinction of being the home of the grand poobah of the Ku Klux Klan, was a lawyer who practiced -

MH: What do they call him, the wizard.

JH: The wizard?

MH: Yeah, they used to call it the grand wizard, I think.

JH: The grand wizard?

MH: I think that’s right.

JH: He was the big guy in the whole-whole-whole Klan, and he had a law office on Main Street in Tucker, Georgia, and my history teacher was a Klansman, as were many of the guys in my -

MH: Was your school integrated?

JH: It was not integrated.

MH: This was an all-white school.

JH: All-white school, but they didn’t stop blacks from coming. There were no blacks in the area; you can’t imagine they’d feel real welcome. The bus system ran two buses a day into the outlying suburbs of Atlanta, and they were called the ‘maids’ buses,’ and they came out like at eight o’clock in the morning and they went back at five o’clock in the evening, and that was it. That was the only mass transportation available.

MH: Was Tucker an affluent community? Compared to, let’s say, where you were in Canada?

JH: Not especially. It was new, it was growing like crazy, because it wasn’t real far from, I think it was I-95 [sic: I-85], was not a long way away. It was growing while I was there, we were in a fairly new subdivision, but they were springing up everywhere.

MH: Was your father working as a carpenter there as well?

JH: No, real estate.

MH: Real estate.

JH: They sent him, when they moved him to Atlanta, he was transferred there, and they wanted him to go to work for Revlon, who had bought the furniture arm of the Belvedere Sink Company, and they wanted my dad to go to work for them selling the furniture. My dad was one of the nicest guys you ever met, and he was not a salesman, he couldn’t push it and make that sale. And if he’d walk into somebody and say, “You looking for anything new?” And they’d say, “No,” he’d sit down and talk to them and then go away. He was not, that was really the start of his downfall, and I’m pretty sure he suffered from severe depression, looking back at it, that’s what I see. But it was the start of his just failing, and it was pretty sad.

MH: What did you do after Tucker High School?

JH: I went to North Georgia Military College for two years. It was a coed military school, the only coed military school in the country, but the girls were not part of the military, but we were on a military campus so we had to obey certain dress codes and things like that. No pants in the dining hall, just silly, those kinds of silly rules.

MH: How many students?

JH: I think there were about twelve hundred; it was a very small school. It’s part of the university system now I guess, I think they still have a big ROTC contingent there, but it’s not mandatory military, the only males who didn’t have to be in the military were locals, who had the right to come to that school as a land-grant school.

MH: It’s a land-grant.

JH: It was a land-grant school.

MH: I wasn’t aware there were any land-grant military schools.

JH: Well, it was an odd situation, I think that the – maybe I used the wrong term – maybe it wasn’t a land-grant school, maybe it was part of the state of Georgia’s school system, it was part of the university system, so maybe it wasn’t -

MH: Yeah, maybe they were, maybe the system (unintelligible). It’s interesting.

JH: All I know is that locals had the right to attend, just like locals can go to some of the private schools and academies here, they had the right to go there. It wasn’t a private school. But it was interesting, and it was also 1966, and our guys graduated as second lieutenants, Army infantry -

MH: Went right to Vietnam.

JH: Airborn, most of them were assigned to the 101st or 82nd, and their life expectancy was like two weeks, when they went over. And we had a big huge map of Vietnam in the cafeteria and we’d track graduates by, the units by pins and stuff like that. And I went in and I was very gung-ho pro-war, and when I left my first stop was a peace march.

MH: Was that the beginning of your interest in -

JH: Politics, yes.

MH: Politics and national affairs?

JH: Yeah, yes, it was the war. It was, I saw that, I mean we heard the horror stories, we heard them write home and say, “I had to take this platoon out and nobody even knew how to shoot a gun,” you know, they were just falling left and right. I’m sure proportionately we lost more of our graduates than most schools, just because of where they went, and when they went.

MH: What other interests did you have when you were in college?

JH: Well, I was very, very shy and pretty introverted. I loved school, but the odd thing was that I had such an incredible education in Canada, and I was studying English literature, and it was late into my second year of college that I was assigned a reading that I hadn’t already had in Canada, Shakespeare, whatever it was, I’d already done it. So it was really a letdown for me. I’m not a brilliant student, but I loved school and it was just a disappointment.

MH: Did you have to declare a major there, or?

JH: No, no, just liberal arts.

MH: Just liberal arts, a general liberal arts course.

JH: I was thinking about pre-nursing, and when I left that’s what I intended to do, but that’s when they were starting nursing degrees and all of the nursing schools then in Atlanta were, like Grady Memorial Hospital had a nursing school, and some of the others, Catholic hospitals, they started their own schools within the hospital, instead of just training nurses, you’d go to classes there. And they were going to bring in professors. Well, they were going to make me take everything I’d already had, and I was paying for it and I just couldn’t see, they wouldn’t let me take other classes instead, they were going to make me repeat everything I’d already had, the first two years of basics, all over again. And I’d already been disappointed, so I didn’t go. And I probably should have.

MH: What did you do?

JH: Oh, that’s when I started meeting people of, how shall I [say it], depending on where you sat in the cafeteria, the different groups of people have different interests, and I started sitting with people protesting the war and into the alternate lifestyle, so I turned into a hippie. I left school and just sort of did life.

MH: So get me from Georgia to Maine.

JH: Okay, I left school and came back, I started working in a restaurant to pay for school and realized that I was making more probably working in that restaurant than I was ever going to make when I graduated, because I was going to be – a woman at that time didn’t have, unless you were going into a profession, there weren’t a lot of jobs that didn’t involve typing. I still didn’t know how to type. So I was just pessimistic about, they were trying very hard to get people to go into the teaching profession then, as well as nursing, and I just figured I’d make more money waiting tables than I would, so I never finished school.

I met a guy who worked where I did, in Underground Atlanta, it had just opened as a development, I guess is what you’d call it, they took the old – do you know the story of Underground Atlanta?

MH: No.

JH: During the Civil War, all the rails ended in Atlanta, hot rails from all over the country ended in Atlanta and it was a hub, and -

MH: Railroad hub.

JH: A railroad hub and that hub was in the downtown area. As traffic picked up, and especially when cars came and they had to bump over these tracks all the time, they started building like viaducts over the tracks, and then finally what they did was, they moved the city up a block and they built structures underneath, it’s sort of like the Big Dig only it was the big rise, and they put everything -

MH: So the train still came underground?

JH: Everything traveled still underground. There wasn’t as much, just like everywhere else, by the time I was there, there were not a whole lot of trains coming through. But it was still, and the original storefronts, the buildings might have been three stories tall, say, with the basement. Well you go underground, and the first story is there right in front of your face, and then there’s a basement underneath that but you’re -

MH: You’re underground.

JH: You’re virtually underground.

MH: It’s a little like that in Washington, in Dupont Circle they did that.

JH: Yeah, I know, where the bridge goes down and under.

MH: There used to be a trolley car station under the Metro station. Or no, I guess it’s above, they built the Metro station in Dupont Circle below -

JH: It’s deep-deep-deep.

MH: Yes, that’s right, but there’s like four levels.

JH: Yes, and that’s exactly what it was like. You could walk and eventually get to open air, but it was pretty dicey, and it was also fill so you had to scramble up scree, and it was all black from railroad soot.

MH: So what did they do with Underground Atlanta?

JH: It was a, the same, I think the same guy did it who did Faneuil Hall, but I can’t remember -

MH: Rause.

JH: Rause? I think it was the Rause Group. They were either in the first phase of it or the redevelopment, it might have been the redevelopment of it, but it doesn’t matter. And they put chain restaurants, shops, they lighted the whole area with gas lights, and it just had a festive atmosphere. You could walk around with drinks from one bar to the next and you could hear the music playing all over. It’s sort of a New Orleans kind of atmosphere, underground, great restaurants. And it was about three blocks from the State House, and I got a job, well the first time I ever waited tables, at Kelly Malloy’s Butcher Shop, and you walk in and you pass a meat counter and they’ve got whole tenderloins and whole ribs, and you’d say, “I’ll take a filet like that there,” and they’ll cut it for you and put your name on it right there, and then you go sit down at the table and you tell you waitress, “I got this steak waiting for me.” And there was just excellent, excellent meat, and it was a haven for legislators and lobbyists. So that’s why my first job, the money was so good.

We also had what we used to call the ‘rat scream,’ because the rats that lived in the basements of these buildings had been down there undisturbed for fifty and sixty years, and they’d evolved into cat sized rats and they, no matter what they did, there’s garbage.

MH: Sure, restaurants have it.

JH: Yes, and so you’d have a table of little ladies sitting there, and all of a sudden,”Eeeek!” And you’d just get the check, walk over to the table, give it to them and they’d be gone, because you knew they weren’t going to sit there any more.

MH: Did you have names for them?

JH: The rats? No, oh God, they’d disappear very fast, the scream was very effective, but when we first went down there it was all too common, like I said, they tried everything. And I don’t know how they finally got rid of them.

MH: So that was, I’m just trying to think -

JH: Early ‘70s.

MH: Early ‘70s, so Martin Luther King was dead by then.

JH: He was dead by then. But the new generation of blacks had come -

MH: Andy Young.

JH: Andy Young. I got to wait one day on a table of six black men, and there was Jesse Jackson, Andy Young, the guy who became the mayor of Atlanta -

MH: Maynard Jackson, is that who it was, Maynard Jackson?

JH: I think so, I mean there was a -

MH: And someone named an airport after him.

JH: There was a group then that was just starting after the war, because now comes all the Civil Rights stuff. It wasn’t quite after the war.

MH: It was an exciting time to be in Atlanta.

JH: Oh, it was an exciting time to be in Atlanta, yes. And my first exposure to segregation was, it’s hard to explain, southern segregation, people who honestly believed, because of their religious beliefs, that blacks and whites are not created equal, and this is their the basis of their belief for segregation. A lot of them don’t dislike blacks, they just aren’t meant to be together. And that was my first exposure, and it was awfully hard for me because I realized that I was pretty naive but I was not prejudiced, and the kids I was going to school with had been raised there, and that was a hard one. I had to learn not to dislike people because of their beliefs, or I wouldn’t have had any friends, but it was something that stuck with me.

MH: And so you had a lot of exposure with the State House, because you were so close.

JH: That, and the politics, it was hard not to be political. You’d pick the side, I mean you were -

MH: So were you active in the party, any party at that point, or did you -?

JH: No, as a matter of fact I got to vote when I was eighteen and I voted for Richard Nixon. I’ll go to my death with that.

MH: And that was the ‘74 election?

JH: It was the first time he was elected.

MH: Sixty-eight.

JH: The ‘68, yes, because I was born in ‘48, and you could vote when you were eighteen, so.

MH: So that would be ‘68, and then it would have been ‘7-, ‘68 was his first presidential election and, well, ‘60 was his first presidential election, ‘68 was the one he won, and then ‘72 was his reelection.

JH: Between 1968 and 1972, I was firmly on the Democratic side of the ticket.

MH: And to Maine?

JH: Okay, I met a guy at Georgia State who also waited tables, we lived together for a year or so and traveled, we had an old Volkswagen bus and we traveled, spent winter in Key West in a campground, and then we’d come back and go do something else. We came to Maine one summer, we’d intended to make it all the way around to British Columbia but we ran out of money in Camden, Maine, and we actually had to run out on our bill at the Camden Hill State Park because we didn’t have enough money to pay.

MH: What year would this have been, roughly?

JH: Nineteen seventy-four. And we went back and paid it, but I think we owed them twelve dollars and we did not have twelve dollars. So we both got jobs, he got a job at Peter Ott’s, it was the second year that place was open, and he walked up and looked at the menu and it was almost exactly the same as the steakhouse he’d worked in, in Underground Atlanta.

MH: And my cousin owned it, Peter Ott’s.

JH: Keith’s your cousin?

MH: Yes, his name’s Hastings, Keith.

JH: Oh, no kidding.

MH: That’s just a sideline. So he went and worked for Peter Ott’s, Peter Ott’s Tavern in Camden, which is still in operation.

JH: And it was a good little steakhouse, and I had learned how to tend bar when I was in Atlanta, and girls weren’t, it was still new, being a bartender as a young female in a nice place was a new thing, and this guy who taught me how to tend bar was a Georgia Tech football player, who was probably three-times my size. And he said, “The only way you’re going to learn how to make a good drink is to know how it tastes.” And I tell you, there were some days I left there and I couldn’t even walk, but I know how to make a Manhattan and a martini – all the drinks.

MH: And where was that?

JH: This was in Atlanta, Ruby Red’s.

MH: Right, but I mean what was the place in Camden that you worked at?

JH: I tried to get a job tending bar at Peter Ott’s, but he didn’t hire girls to tend bar; only he didn’t tell me that, he told me I wasn’t tall enough. I saw him a couple years later and there was a woman even shorter than I was, in there tending bar. And I said, “I guess you changed your mind.” But, so I got a job at the Rockport Lobster House, and at that time they had a bar downstairs, and they had rock ‘n’ roll music on Friday and Saturday nights, and I was one of the few waitresses whose husbands would let them serve drinks. Most of the women there worked in the restaurant and went home, I worked in the restaurant, and then went downstairs and worked in the bar.

And at that time, Maine’s blue laws were awful strict. You could serve a drink; you couldn’t serve a mixed drink. You could serve a drink and you could serve a shot of booze, and the customer mixed it themselves, because they didn’t want people to get cheated I guess is was the deal. But Camden was a different place then, streets closed up in the winter, there were no jobs, and that summer we lived in a campground. The guy I was with, when we left Atlanta we started camping up the east coast, and we left the first of May and went out Ocracoke, which is in the Outer Banks, and we stayed there for two weeks, and then we just wandered up the coast, and we stayed at the campground that’s across from Plants Unlimited on Route 1, Megunticook by the Sea, for a dollar a night, in the woods.

It wasn’t a campsite, it was down over the hill in the woods, and there were four of us, there was a couple from New Mexico, a guy who did the Portland-to-Portland bike ride, and a woman from Sturbridge, I think, Massachusetts, and she’d ridden a bike up, but the two bike riders got together and they’re still together – nobody else is.

MH: I drove by there today, Megunticook by the Sea, and thought to myself, I bet that’s a really expensive campground to stay at.

JH: A buck a night. We made our furniture, we had like little houses down there, it was wonderful. We got to use the showers and the laundry, but they only charged just a dollar.

MH: What’d you do during the winter, Jeanne?

JH: We went back to Atlanta that year. Drive-in was across the road, though, and on a foggy night you could hear the movie, the sound carried, and you’d just sit there by the fire and listen to the movie. [We] went back to Atlanta, and we split up, but I told him he wasn’t going to leave me in Atlanta so we came back together, we drove back up together. And the week before we were supposed to leave, we’d already started loading our van, somebody stole it.

MH: Stole the van?

JH: Stole the van. Now, this van, you had to get in the breakdown lane to go up a hill, because by the time you got to the top you were lucky if you were still going forward, God help you if you ever had to stop, you’d have to roll back five or ten miles and get another go at it, it just didn’t have, I mean it would barely make it up the hill. Well, they arrested the guy who stole it because he was going so slow, but they never called us, the police never called us to tell us they had the van. And it also had parts for the van, and tents and camping gear and stuff like that, and when we went to get the van, finally, about three months later they called my friend’s father, we went to get it and there was nothing in it, all the gear was gone. Well, where’d it go? “Oh, he had a hitchhiker with him,” the police said. So he got caught in a little speed trap for going too slow, and the cops stole all our stuff, and wanted something like $700 for the van, for storage for a month.

MH: Where did they recover the van, I mean where was -

JH: I think it was Douglas, Georgia, it was one of those little stereotypical -

MH: It was on the way back to Maine, you had lost it.

JH: In Atlanta, in Atlanta they stole, we had to get another car. So we got one of those deals where you drive a car, somebody’s car, loaded everything we had on top and covered it with plastic, and the plastic blew off in the first twenty miles and it rained all the way up. It was a long trip. Oh, my.

MH: I’m going to pause it here.

End of CD One

CD Two

JH: All right, so I’m back in Camden, and have split up with my friend and fallen in love with a Maine boy, and that was thirty-three years ago and we’re still together. And in between then and now, I have tended bar, worked at an inn for eight years – that was a fun job, I really liked that job – and when the inn sold I was offered the job with Senator Mitchell.

MH: And that would have been, you said, in the late ‘80s?

JH: In the late 80s – ‘84, ‘86, ‘86. And I had met Tom Bertocci, who was the field representative in Rockland, doing work for MOFGA [Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association].

MH: So you’ve been interested in gardening for a long time.

JH: Gardening, I think, it was not so much gardening as land use and farmland preservation, and that started being raised on a farm. I think I always knew we were stewards of land and it wasn’t ours to keep, it was ours to take care of. And when we moved to Canada, we lived in a brand new raw subdivision, and I could see the farmhouse from my bedroom window and it used to make me cry. I just was distraught over all the farmland that was being destroyed for houses; I just couldn’t make reason of it. Growth is important, well, no it isn’t.

MH: So you must have joined MOFGA fairly early in MOFGA’s history.

JH: I did, I started watching Crockett’s Victory Garden and -

MH: That’s a television show?

JH: Public Broadcasting, Jim Crockett was a lovely older guy and that show used to teach you how to garden. It’s gone a different way now, but by then Craig and I had bought a piece of property and were living in a little, we lived in a tent the first year, and moved away for the winter and then came back and we bought a motel cottage that had one room, and we added a four-by-eight kitchen, and we had a little stove, we had an outhouse, and we had a waterfall on our property and that was our shower, and we stayed just as long as we could into the fall.

MH: Where was that, was that in Camden?

JH: That was in Camden, out by the Snowbowl, it was forty-five –

MH: Not too far from here.

JH: Not too far from here, actually, you’re right. And it was forty-five acres, but most of it was vertical. And it was a lovely little place, but even then it was too much for us to afford to pay the mortgage and afford to build a house, so we had to end up selling it. But this is where I had my first ever garden, and the guy who had owned it when it was a farm had kept chickens down there and just pushed all the manure over the edge of this little gully, and I walked in there and I stuck my hands down into like three feet of old composted chicken manure, and I knew right there I had, that’s where my garden was going to be. We dug a well and I carried water from the well to the garden, and Tony Bok was my neighbor up the road, and he came down and plowed me up a spot and I had a marvelous garden, beginner’s luck, but that’s when I started going to MOFGA. They had potluck dinners once a week.

MH: This was out in Unity? Or were they in Unity then?

JH: They didn’t have a home then, they rented office space in Augusta, I think it was Augusta, and they went from there to Hallowell maybe, and then from there to Unity. But I worked, I started attending those.

MH: MOFGA stands for Maine -

JH: Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. And the monthly potluck dinners, it was chartered, oh, I can’t think of the words I want, county clubs -

MH: Cooperative extension?

JH: No, I’m trying to think of the name I want for the Knox County, not club but it was a formal part of MOFGA.

MH: Chapter.

JH: Chapter, thank you, just couldn’t find the word. So this was the Knox County chapter, and it was very active. Beedy Parker, who became my good friend, was there, and her husband Dick, and Tony Bok, and Monica and Alan McGee were there, and a lot of people my age, a little older, and we all shared secrets and stories and hints about gardening, talked about different kinds of seeds, and on and on.

Part of our chapter responsibility was, we had reports of what was happening in the legislature that might impact the organization. And at that point in time, MOFGA had a certification program for organic growers, but there weren’t very many and most of them lived in Hancock or Washington County, which is where a lot of the back-to-the-landers had gone, because you could get big pieces of land there, but that’s also where all the spraying was. There were apple sprayers, potato sprayers, and blueberry, and most of it was done by air. And if you’ve been sprayed, either over sprayed or directly sprayed, you can’t call yourself organic again until I think it was three years had passed, but it might have been even longer, I can’t remember those details. But I do know that there was just a sense of injustice there to me, and that’s what got me interested in the political end of gardening, was pesticides.

And Beedy Parker, my partner on the legislative committee of MOFGA for about six years, was the scientific mind, and she did all the research into all the different chemicals that were sprayed, and at that point in time the tests done on a lot of the chemicals were proving to be insufficient, they were done in soils in Arizona and New Mexico where a lot of the tests were done because it was warm there all year. It’s also sandy soil, and we have clay and ledge that never warms up, so there was a question of whether, even if the testing that had been done was solid, it didn’t necessarily apply. They were finding chemicals in ground water here that should have dissipated years before. And that’s what got us going, was the pesticide drift. If you were an organic grower, it seemed to us that you had the right not to have somebody else’s chemicals on your land.

MH: Is this interest how you came to know Tom?

JH: Yes, because in the Senate was a bill to sponsor conversion from traditional agriculture to organic agriculture, knowing that there’d be a lag time when you’re not certified and changing your practices that you’re income was going to be down, there was money to help transition farmers. And so we supported that, as we worked in Maine areas as well on a no-spray register, and I attended a couple conferences in Washington, and part of that conference was going to visit your senator and telling them what they needed to do – that’s where I met Steve Hart.

And so I had done work from the other side, from the outside coming in with the Senator’s office before I met Tom in person, and then I met him, and Joe Brennan had just been elected, and I said, geez, I’d -

MH: Elected to governor.

JH: Elected to Congress. And I said, “It would be fun to go to Washington and work for a congressman,” and he explained to me that you never got a job unless you’d worked on a campaign, that’s how staff got hired, and that I could go ahead and write Mr. Brennan, but I shouldn’t be surprised if he already had people. He explained how few staff [the] representatives got, and their budget was small. And then lo and behold, he called me, oh, a couple months later, and said, “Would you be interested in talking about a job for Senator Mitchell?” And they’d gotten busy enough that they thought they needed somebody else, a caseworker in the office to pick up. It was into his second term and -

MH: By that time you’d lived up here for about seven years, right? You said you came out in ‘81?

JH: Seventy-four, so I’d been here ten years, and I’d been working with MOFGA seven or eight of those years, that was a really long thing. And as part of taking that job I had to give up my position with MOFGA. That was a hard choice.

MH: Well, you’ve rejoined now, I see, right?

JH: No, I haven’t ever, no I haven’t; I have some philosophical differences now with them.

MH: And so tell me about what you did when you were working with Tom in the Mitchell office in Rockland, right?

JH: In Rockland. I went down, and I’d never been on a job interview in my life. I would just go in and ask people if they needed any help and they’d say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and I’d start work or I would go elsewhere, but I’d never had an interview. And I didn’t even realize that’s what this was, was an interview, I thought we were just -

MH: Was it with Tom?

JH: It was with Tom, yes, but I met Carmen Wilder, who was the other part-time person in the office, and Carmen was probably seventy-eight at that time, because she turned eighty a couple years later, and at that point Carmen was the oldest Senate employee, she really was.

MH: Washington and -

JH: In the whole, in the Senate, yes. Carmen actually got a present for her eightieth birthday that’s a real keepsake, and she’s passed on and I don’t know where that book is, but she got a notebook with pictures, autographed, with a personal message from every single sitting senator. So she’s got quite a few good notes from people and congratulations, and she’s got cards from Senate staff in those offices, and like I said, it’s quite a keepsake, and I have no idea where it is.

Carmen and I got along famously, and Tom asked me if I thought I knew what the job would be like, and having come at it from the inside I thought I knew, and so I was fearless and I just jumped in, and that was it.

MH: So how many years did you work for the Senator?

JH: Eight years.

MH: Eight years, until he retired in 199-, end of 1994.

JH: Yes.

MH: And can you describe the kind of things you did for him?

JH: I was a caseworker so I did constituent work, and I started off just responding to letters, and I still couldn’t type – this is when I taught myself how to type. And I got an IBM PC Junior, which was one of the first readily available computers that there were, and I brought it into the office. Mitchell’s office didn’t have computers yet, I think there might have been a couple in Washington but the staff was not using computers. It had spell check, and it let me go back and change things instead of typing over a whole letter that had like six carbons. Oh, it was just, it was awful, I mean it would take me all day to write one letter, because I’d make one mistake, and I was still doing this, so I got a tape and closed my eyes and learned how to find the keys and everything, and brought my computer in and then I was off and running, and you couldn’t stop me then. I just loved that job.

MH: Can you give me a couple of examples of projects or cases that you were particularly proud of?

JH: I worked a lot with veterans, and you know those signs that hoboes place on windows, “This is a friendly house?” Well I think I had one of those out on the street.

MH: For veterans.

JH: For veterans. The word gets around fast. And I also had very good working relations with the service representatives from the different organizations, DAV and AMVETS, because I knew that if we worked together we were much better off than we were working apart, and I also knew that sometimes the VA would accept inquiries from their office with less resistance than from ours. So I worked with those guys and got to meet them, and just really satisfying results. That was when they were expanding the ability to get compensation for Agent Orange.

MH: Which is a herbicide.

JH: Herbicide. And I worked with guys who aren’t here any more, whose daughters were coming down with ovarian cancer, and some of the things now they know -

MH: (Unintelligible).

JH: And a couple of these guys went to Washington. I think Senator Mitchell was on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee -

MH: He was, yeah.

JH: And Steve Hart was, he was my -

MH: Steve Hart handled both agriculture and veterans’ affairs.

JH: My favorite two issues. And we worked really hard. Togus had the same reputation as some of the other administrative offices – it’s also a hospital, but it was the administrative center – of dragging their heels on claims, and they hated post traumatic stress disorder claims, and I worked with a lot of those guys. They had children who were coming down with secondary PTSD, from living in a household with a severely ill parent, a lot of times abusive. And so Gail Kelly still works for Senator Snowe, then Representative Snowe, she and I worked a lot together on issues more than vets. And those are still some of my favorite cases, because I got to meet the guys.

MH: You said that you really loved that job.

JH: Yes.

MH: Did you think you were good at it?

JH: Yes, I think I was. I think it was made for me. It takes curiosity, it takes imagination, and it takes just tenacity. You just don’t let go, you know that there’s an answer out there somehow, or somewhere, and even if a case comes in and it’s Medicare, and who’d ever think you could be really interested in Medicare. The cases were enough different that every time you went in, you learned something new, and so pretty soon you’d put together this knowledge base, and Tom gave me an evaluation one time and said that I could always hit the ground running because I just had a sense of where to go.

MH: How often did you see the Senator while you were working for him?

JH: It took me a long time to figure out that the Rockland address that’s in the phone book wasn’t his home. I thought he lived in Rockland, because he had a name, it said George Mitchell, you know, and it took me a long -

MH: Was it a different George Mitchell?

JH: No, it was George Mitchell, but he wasn’t listed as U.S. Senator, it just said George Mitchell. Anyway, he was doing schools then, and -

MH: Visiting schools, you mean.

JH: Visiting schools, and it took me a long time, I worked very hard, but I read something the other day that, I think it was on the Bowdoin site, that he visited every single high school in Maine. Well the ones I got him to were the islands, and he didn’t want to go because he didn’t like small planes. And the staff didn’t like him flying on small planes.

MH: Why didn’t he go on a ferry boat?

JH: Because it took too long. I said he could have a meeting or something on the ferry boat, on the way over, but it took too long. So I convinced him that small planes were probably safer than the big ones, you can see what’s going on, and we finally got him out to North Haven and Vinalhaven in one trip, you go by a little boat from one island to the other, but one plane ride. The AP was with him and that -

MH: Was he majority leader at this time?

JH: He was, and that was a woman who, oh, maybe it was the New York Times woman, Phyllis somebody, she did a couple series on him, a couple articles.

MH: I’m sorry, I was out of the country at this point so I -

JH: Oh, okay, but I know I fixed the cooler with lunches in it, and brownies – the Senator loved brownies, and that was part of your job, whenever you staffed a town meeting or you staffed him at any event where there was food, you got brownies. It didn’t matter if there was caviar and smoked salmon and lobster: “Did you get me any brownies?” That was it.

MH: It’s interesting, in these interviews, the Senator’s eating habits when he was on road trips in Maine, everybody that I interview who worked for him has a food story.

JH: Have you done Clyde MacDonald? Then you know corn fritters come -

MH: He’s on the list of people who are, either have been interviewed or will be.

JH: Okay, get him to say corn fritters, from that place that used to have the salad bar, Miller’s, Miller’s salad bar, he loved corn fritters. If Clyde has a food story, that’s it. But it was fun, and I’d see the Senator most at fund raisers for other candidates, I staffed a few of those, but I only drove him I think once or twice. That was the field rep’s job and I was a caseworker, so I didn’t do too much of that. Actually I did a couple events at Togus that he participated in: one was a Korean War, the 40th anniversary of the Korean War, and he’s a Korean War vet, so these were his peers; and then I did a Pearl Harbor ceremony, they came out with medals, Pearl Harbor medals, and we got the Senator to hand them out. Most people got them in the mail, but we did a ceremony at Togus.

And it was my first event that I ever planned, and Diane Smith was the scheduler, and she was nervous that I had overestimated how many people might be there, so she wanted a small room instead of a big one because it just feels better if the room is crowded instead of half empty. Well, people were standing down the hall, and the Senator could barely get around to give all these guys, everybody came to see grandpa getting his medal, and it was packed, and everybody, they were so proud, these old guys. That was fun.

And he thanked me for those, so that was, there was one picture they took at the Korean one, and somebody had given him a t-shirt and people were always giving him gifts, and that was part of your job when you staffed, you had to keep track of who gave what and hang on to all these things, and then take them back and log them in and send them to Washington and all this stuff. And somebody had given him a t-shirt, and I met somebody that I’d been working with on this ceremony there, and somebody took a picture and I’m shaking this guy’s hand, and he’s in a uniform, and the Senator’s got his t-shirt in his arms, carrying his t-shirt, standing behind me, and Mary McAleney said, “It looks like the Senator is staffing you.”

MH: And Mary was the chief of staff then.

JH: She was the chief of staff then, yes; I still have that picture, that was good. I’ll keep that one for a long time. And there was a ship, a fishing boat from Russia, there was an outfit in Portland who used to do, not a treaty, but a trade thing.

MH: Oh, I’m familiar with this, I think I know, this is about- , you’re right.

JH: The herring, they came -

MH: Right, it had to do with herring.

JH: We catch the herring and give it to them, and they process it and –

MH: It’s called a joint venture.

JH: Thank you very much, and the folks in Portland arranged everything and it was, I believe I’m right in this, it was the first time that Russian sailors had been given visas to come ashore -

MH: Because they used to come in with their processing vessels very close, particularly there was an area out off the northeast side of Vinalhaven.

JH: Jeffreys Ledge?

MH: Well, not Jeffreys, but there’s a place where the international waters kind of come in, and you can almost see them from Mullen Head in North Haven, but that was back when they couldn’t go ashore, because they couldn’t come into U.S. waters. But I remember, the gentleman named Dick Sharoud was the guy who put that joint venture together.

JH: And then there was somebody from up around here that participated in it too, and I believe that’s why they came into Rockland. So they -

MH: Probably O’Hara or somebody.

JH: I’m not sure who it was but -

MH: Frank O’Hara.

JH: But they contacted us, the Senator’s office, and asked us if we’d be willing to take a couple of these guys to lunch, that they were coming ashore and would we take a couple people to lunch in Rockland, went all out and people would sign up to take them home for the day, and take them around on rides and stuff, they had a big barbecue at the Samoset the first night.

Well, we went down to meet them, there was an intern in my office, and she and I went down to meet these guys, and we walked up and said, there were like fifty or sixty guys there, lined up, “Does anybody speak English?” “I do, I do,” that was it. That’s all they could say in English, but we didn’t know that. We said, “Fine, come with us.” “Can we come?” and he talked to his friends, so we ended up with three or four of these guys, and nobody really spoke more than a few words of English. But this one guy, the ‘I do, I do’ guy, he had magazines, and he had pictures cut out of cars, and he wanted to see a big American car, because all they had over there that they could buy were little -

MH: Ladas, boxy little cars.

JH: Boxy little tin things, and they were out of reach for most people. So he wanted to see cars, so I said, “Okay.” And at that time I drove a Bronco, a full size, great big huge old Bronco.

MH: Farmer’s car.

JH: Oh, it was huge. I couldn’t afford to put gas in it now. And I had on heels, and I got in, and I couldn’t drive it with heels on so I had to take my shoes off, and I almost had to stand up when I didn’t have shoes on to reach the gas. These guys are leaning out the windows, all the windows are rolled down, reaching over, honking on the horn to their friends, ‘look at us, big American truck, big American truck.’ And it was just unbelievable. I took them to a dealership, I thought, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll go to the Ford place or go someplace, then let them sit in the cars, they let them turn them on and turn on the radio, everybody opened their hearts to these guys. It was unbelievable, it was the best feeling. It was like, ‘the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.’

MH: Like that movie.

JH: Yes, but it was good, and everybody was excited. And actually the name of their, I had wanted to go out and look at the boat, they were going to take press out, and I had been invited to go, and Diane Dewhirst was the press secretary, and she put the kibosh on it because she didn’t know what I’d say or do – I don’t know why for sure she didn’t want me to go, but she didn’t want me to go. By then I’d already worked with guys down at, the Library of Congress had that service, the CRS?

MH: Congressional Research Service.

JH: And they could answer all kinds of questions for you, if you ever had to know where to find something or get a letter translated, if it came in in a foreign language, they could do all that. So I got them to teach me a few words, and this guy taught me how to say ‘hello, how are you?’ and he’d send it to me phonetically, over the fax because no e-mail then, and so I’d learned how to say all these things, and I’d practiced and practiced, and then I couldn’t go.

MH: That’s too bad.

JH: Yes, that was sad, but it was such a wonderful feeling meeting those guys, and what a place to pick to come ashore for the first time, Rockland, Maine.

MH: That’s a great story.

JH: But it was heartwarming.

MH: Were you caught by surprise when the Senator decided not to run?

JH: I knew, yes, in that we didn’t know anything was up until we got the call from Mary McAleney, telling us to be in Portland. I remember it was March 4th, because Lee, one of the guys on Channel 6, had said on the weather in the morning, today’s the only date that actually means something when you say it: March fourth [march forth]. And that stuck in my mind, and so I know it was March 4th, and somebody’d leaked something to the TV station, because it was all around, that Mitchell’s staff has all been called to Portland. And I thought he was sick, I thought they were going to tell us, and when she said we have to go but I can’t tell you why, I said, “Just please tell me that he’s not really sick,” because I thought that’s the only thing that I could figure. And that wasn’t it. That was a sad night, that dinner was a -

MH: So you didn’t know until the dinner.

JH: No. Well yes, it had been leaked on the radio, because on the TV he had done a TV spot, announcing that he wasn’t going to run again, and the TV station that got the word about the meeting in Portland knew they had this feed for later on in the day, this is what I understand happened, I don’t know, and it wasn’t embargoed, it just said, “Show at 11 o’clock news” or something like that, because he wanted to tell the staff first, and they got into so it had already been leaked. We heard it on the radio on the way down. So, but it was still hard.

MH: And how did you reorient yourself after -

JH: Not well.

MH: After the Senator’s office?

JH: Not well. Like I said, that was the perfect job for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that whatever we did for him, and I don’t think that working for anybody else, it might not have been the same, because he made it easier to do our job because of who he was and the amount of respect he had. You’d call an agency, and now I know that we were probably talking to political appointees of the same party, when we went in congressional calls were handled out of the Maine office, and those were probably appointees. But I know for a fact, the little ladies who worked for the Office of Personnel Management, they weren’t political appointees, and you’d call them and tell them you were from George Mitchell’s office, ‘Ooh, we just love your boss,’ and they’d bend over backwards to help you. I mean every single time. It was, ‘We have so much respect for him, we wish he’d run for president.’ It was just constant. And I, having not worked for anybody else, I’m not positive, but I don’t think it happens all the time, I think they’re more seen as nuisance calls. But it was very, very different.

MH: Have you followed his career since he left?

JH: Yes and no, I mean he’s pretty private, and so if he’s doing legal work then I don’t know what it is, the public parts of it I have, and if I know he’s going to be speaking somewhere I watch. And I think he looks good. I know how old he is because his birth date was our secret code to get in our office – we had to punch in a code and it was his birthday, so I know how old he is, and I think he looks good. I wonder whether or not he’s going to be asked to be part of this administration, I don’t know whether he’d want it. I wanted him to be the chief justice, that’s what I wanted for him. I think he would have liked that job, and I hope that they think of appointing him to the bench, but I don’t know whether he’d want just a Justice job.

MH: When I get toward the end of an interview I ask the following question, is there any story you’d like to tell that I didn’t give you an opening for? Or something you’d like to get on the record?

JH: No, I think that, when you worked in the field, it was a different job than when you worked in the D.C. office, and I think that the field people probably did more senatorial work with making the government work for the people than the D.C. people realized. I know they know we worked with people, but I don’t think that, they didn’t get to use the tools that we did. They maybe made the rules that made it possible, but we got to be the senator, and I don’t think they did as much. So it was a different, I must admit that I couldn’t give it up altogether, when I know somebody’s having a problem with the government, I just got finished writing a letter for a friend of mine who’s trying to get worker’s comp, he’s a mail carrier, so he’s Federal Workers Comp, and it’s beyond him. So I feel sort of like I’m a practicing senator-without-a-license or something.

MH: Once a Senate aide, always a Senate aide.

JH: I want to sign it – how’d he sign his? – oh, he always signed it, ‘with best regards’, and that’s how I want to sign it, ‘with best regards,’ sign somebody else’s letter. But it was just, you got to learn something new every day, and that was the saddest part for me is that I just knew there’d never be another job like that.

MH: Did you ever get the opportunity to go down to Washington and visit him in his Washington office?

JH: I did a couple times.

MH: Any interesting, what were you, around any certain event, or was it just a visit?

JH: Well, I got to go down and do the CRS training, like all the caseworkers do, and then I got to go down, I think that Mary Mac knew how much good it did us to go down once in a while, either refresh your training or something. I think it was a good excuse I’m sure with Donna Beck in the office, she had to have a very good reason to bring us down, but I think she knew that it was good for us to get down and to meet the staff; you work with these people all the time and you don’t even know what they look like. And so she’d try to bring us down, and whether it was for something special now or not, I can’t remember, but yes, we got to make two or three trips. And then when he announced he wasn’t running, I wanted to go to Washington so I went down and worked out of the office with the transition, and then we lost the House and the Senate. I still got a job though, he called for me.

MH: And what did you do afterwards?

JH: I worked for the chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which was a panel of three commissioners who hear workers comp appeals, people like Pepperidge Farm appealing a decision that their assembly line caused carpal tunnel.

MH: And that’s in D.C.

JH: That’s in D.C.

MH: How long were you living in D.C.?

JH: Six years I was down there.

MH: Six years, and it was from ‘95 onward?

JH: Ninety-five on, yeah, came home in 2000. When Mr. Gore lost I just couldn’t go through another bout. But I ended up at USAID, working for Hattie Babbitt as her scheduler.

MH: And what did you do?

JH: She was the deputy administrator, and I scheduled her to go all over the world.

MH: That was a job that, deputy administrator was a job that Judge Coffin had in the Kennedy administration, you know, Frank Coffin, does that name strike a bell? Frank Coffin was a congressman from Maine, he was a very close associate of Ed Muskie’s, actually was the campaign, he was the head of the Democratic Party when Ed Muskie became governor, and senator, and he was the first deputy administrator of AID, and wrote a book about it, under John Kennedy.

JH: No kidding, oh, I bet it was fascinating when it was just started.

MH: And he’s still a judge, he’s a, what do you call him, well he has retired status with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but he still sits on cases, in Boston I think, wonderful man.

JH: It was, there was somebody else, Rick Barton?

MH: That’s right, he worked for USAID.

JH: He worked for USAID, I think he was gone by then. I think that maybe he’d been in the deputy administrator’s office as special assistant or something, I can’t remember.

MH: So you worked out of the, was it out of the State Department building, or were you - ?

JH: New, the new Reagan building. Yes, fancy, fancy digs. Looked right across the street at the Commerce Department, I lived on Capitol Hill over by Eastern Market, so it was like a mile-and-a-half, I used to walk to work, except in the dead of summer or on a cold, cold rainy day, but it was a beautiful walk, walked by the Supreme Court, and that was my neighborhood.

MH: Were you able to keep up with any of your former colleagues in the Mitchell office, who were still in D.C.?

JH: We got together a couple times. By then Grace Reef had like three kids. The last person you’d ever think of having kids would be Grace Reef, and she had three kids. And Steve Hart, remember when his little boy was so sick? And Mary Mac was SBA, she had gone to Maine but she would come back for SBA stuff. And we’d get together at Union Station and have a couple drinks every once in a great while, it wasn’t often enough, but people go their separate ways.

MH: And so you came back to Maine in 2001.

JH: I didn’t stick it out, everybody was jumping ship, yes, so, and I was ready to come back. Besides, our rent, I don’t know whether they were raising rents because the administration was changing and they figured that the fat cats were coming to town with more money, our rent went from twelve hundred a month to $1800 a month, and we still had our place in Maine and there was no way we could do both. So it was a sign that it was time to come home.

But it’s a beautiful city to live in, and the first job wasn’t as much fun as the second job, I didn’t have enough to do. The woman who sat in my seat before me used to knit and read, and I couldn’t do that on taxpayers’ dollars and so I’d go around -

MH: Did you say first job and second job?

JH: Yes, the first job was with the Review Commission.

MH: Right, and the second job was?

JH: With USAID.

MH: With AID, okay, that’s right.

JH: Yes, and that I wish I’d had the whole time because some of the schedulers got to travel, and Hattie went all over the world, Bali, I can’t even remember all, I can remember getting on the Internet trying to find a hotel in Indonesia, and that’s really interesting. So that would have been a fun job to have all along. It was long, long hours and a lot of work, but it was fun. So, that’s it. And then I came home and I couldn’t even get an interview, and I think it was because people thought I was overqualified on paper for jobs, but I was also fifty, I was in my early fifties then, and I’m sure my age had something to do with it as well.

MH: Soft job market.

JH: Yes, so I’ve sort of patched together jobs, I do minutes for the Town of Camden Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, so that’s my foray into local politics, and I sit on the Planning Board in Lincolnville, and I do bookkeeping and I garden, and I play here at the Garden Institute.

MH: This has been great, thank you very much.

JH: Yes, thank you.

MH: I’m going to say for the record, again, that this is November 8, 2008, and I’m with Jeanne Hollingsworth and we’ve had a great talk, thank you very much.

JH: You’re welcome.

End of Interview

 
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Interview with Jeanne Hollingsworth by Mike Hastings

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