When I was only Sixteen

Another Representative recently sent me a birthday card, a card that pointed out a few things that happened when I was 16.

On my 16th birthday, Elvis was drafted into the Army. Harry Truman was president. Popular songs that year included "At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors, Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star," and "The Purple People Eater."

When I was 16, a gallon of milk was $1.01, a loaf of bread was 19 cents and the average income was$4,650.

Now, maybe the Representative from Fall River was trying to make me feel old. Well, it didn't work. Because I just looked up his age, and he's three years older than I am. I felt younger immediately. Until I was talking to two freshman Representatives, who are both younger than my children!

The Massachusetts House of Representatives is a fascinating collection of people, young and old, from all over the state. Although, perhaps, according to some of the people there a decade or two, sorely needing some of the true characters that have worked there over the years. Like the guy who dropped his trousers to get the Speaker's attention. (He lost the next election.)

Hottest reading in the State House this week, was the latest edition of The Political Almanac, a fat little paperback with details on every Senator and Representative in the state, complete with photo.

You'll find some fairly boring stuff on campaign laws, open meeting laws and the lawmaking process. You'll find a list of all committees and the members. A list of all the registered lobbyists.

And, the "good stuff." How much money did each legislator raise last year? How much did they spend? How much do they have in the bank? How many votes did they get last year? Married? Kids?

How did they vote on ten key issues last year? Does NOW, CLT, the MTA or the NFIB approve of their voting records? What clubs do they belong to? Political careers?

They're all listed. Along with a summary that tells you things you might never even wonder about.

Such as, 73 percent of the House members are Catholic (78 percent of the Senators). Other religions come in lower--5 percent Jewish, 4 percent Episcopal, 2 percent Greek Orthodox, 2 percent Congregational, and 1 percent are Baptist, 1 percent Methodist, 1 percent Unitarian.

Top concerns, or priorities of legislators, include education, listed by 54 percent of us, followed by economic development with 37 percent, local aid with 30 percent, health at 26 percent.

More than three fourths of us (77 percent) are married, and 25 percent are women. Fourteen percent of the House members were born in Boston, 74 percent were born in the Commonwealth, and two percent were born in a foreign country. Two of us were born in Iowa--Kahn and Hahn, and the mailroom, pages and switchboard still confuse us.

Hal Lane of Holden has the most kids--eight of them.

Some 78 percent have college degrees, with 47 percent having advanced degrees. U-Mass was the most popular school, with 15 percent of the House members having graduated from the state university. And 25 percent of the House members have law degrees.

The youngest member (Tom Golden of Lowell) is 26. The oldest is the Dean of the House, Tony Scibelli of Springfield. Tony's also served the longest--24 terms, or 48 years.

The average age of a House member is 46. So I'm not the only Representative that remembers "Bird Dog," "Get a Job," "Sugartime," "Tequila." And Susan Hayward in "I Want to Live," David Niven in "Separate Tables." When Floyd Patterson was heavyweight champion. And, being 16 in the 50s.

And, I promise you, I won't serve 24 terms. After all, if I did, I'd be 101.

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