Friday, November 05, 2010

Guest Post: Ivan Shares a Martini with the Senator

My friend Ivan, on the ranch down in Alabama,  is waxing  nostalgic this morning about his days reporting politics for the Louisville newspapers, and in particular about the sometimes Republican senator and ambassador to India, John Sherman Cooper:
...Cooper's wife, Lorrainne Rowan Shevlin Cooper, married several times,heir of a family that had settled in la when it was still sand, she ownedthe mansion at 2900 N st. and had a lot of money and connections. when I was in DC CJ bureau, and new congress was coming in in '65, they invited me to a reception at the house. Really icy night. as I was trying to get up the steps, an Indian couple came up behind me and they were having trouble on the ice. I hauled the female up the steps with her husband behind her. she was "the begum" of something. or maybe he was. Alice Roosevelt Longworth was there also. plus a guy who became head of CIA in LBJ  administration. plus a lot of people with a lot of power. Caterers served among other stuff strips
of cooked bacon. you took one as they walked by. i asked Lorraine about the bacon strip hors d. she said a lot of people drink too much at receptions and it keeps them from getting drunk fast.Everett Dirksen came in on a crutch. he had awakened one night, reached for his bedsinde booze glass, and tumbled out of bed, hurting one leg. when he came into the big room the muciscal group started playing "we're loyal to you Illinois" and Dirksen stood in front of them, using his crutch as a baton, directing them and singing his state song.

on the campaign trail in '66, when he beat John Y. Brown,  father of Kentucky Fried Chick billionaire to be John. Y. Brown Jr., Cooper would direct our driver to slip into a liquor store while he was campaiging or speaking, and buy a pint of Dixie Bell gin, always Dixie Bell, cheapest gin in wet county stores. Then, as we finished campaigning and were heading to where we were  going to spend the night, he would ask me if I cared to have a "really dry martini" with him. "Sure." He would fish a couple of tiny paper cups out of
his bag, pour the Dixie Bell gin in the cups, and that was a Cooper martini.  And after a toast he would originate, we would sip our martinis. if we had two, we would sing "buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight, and dance by the light of the moon," until we got to our destination. Some motels we stayed in east of Mount Sterling only had one phone -- sometimes a pay phone -- for guests. it was in the office and when they closed the office you got off the phone.

Once in West :Liberty or Mount Sterling, we were eating breakfast in the local restaurant and I asked for grapefruit juice with my breakfast.I watched waitress, local high school girl, go talk with the cashier (owner, probably) then dash across the street to local IGA store, and in a few minutes come dashing back to restaurant with a little bag. She took the bag in the kitchen, and a minute or two later she had a can of Donald Duck brand grapefruit juice in front of me. Warm. I told Cooper about it and he said the only juice people in eastern Kentucky drank with their breakfast was Tang.
Or as they used to say, "Tang! It's not just for breakfast any more!" I had to hire a copy reader to put in all the capitals and periods. Fortunately, unemployed copy readers come cheap these days. Bottoms up, Ivan, and have a good day.

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