8 Memories from Congressional Page Land: Sandwiches with the Speaker, Shaking Bill Clinton's Hand and Stealing KFC Decals
Today, it was announced that the House of Representatives Page Program, a program both steeped in history and marred by scandal, is coming to an end. According to USA Today, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited the $5 million annual expenditure for cutting the program, which kind of sounds like a glorified courier position where privileged high school juniors get to spend a year in Washington rubbing their blue-jacketed shoulders with Dad's college roommate.
Qui-Gon in your room?
Except that, for one year, those blue-jacketed shoulders actually belonged to me. And, to be perfectly honest, it was one of the best years of my life.
In the 1998-1999 school year, I proudly served as one of the last pages for Republican Congressman Bill Archer, and it was a huge year: Clinton got impeached, the House leadership changed hands, NATO was in its 50th year and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out.
Naturally, this news has gotten me a little misty-eyed, so I have come up with a list of my eight favorite memories from Page Land.
8. John Glenn gives astronauts a tour of the House floor in the afterhours
In which we each did a double take and mouthed the words "Holy shit! Astronauts!" One girl made a sign that said "On this date I met Astronaut John Glenn," and plastered it all over our dorm hallway.
7. Shaking Bill Clinton's hand at the State of the Union
Yeah, I did it. I also didn't let go, because, I mean, it was the PRESIDENT. If you watch footage of the event, you can see him sticking his hand into a bunch of outstretched arms and then shaking his hand a little. That's him trying to get me to let go.
6. Passing the gavel
Pages are given different tasks and once I was given floor duty, where you wait around until there's a package for you to deliver or pick up. Once, sometime between the midterm elections and impeachment, on a quiet afternoon when the chamber was practically empty, I saw Newt Gingrich pass his gavel to Bob Livingston, who was supposed to succeed him. I remember thinking it was pretty historic. I realized I'd never see Gingrich hold the gavel again. I didn't realize I'd also never see Livingston hold it again, either.