Poppy came home and announced that Mo Udall, whoever the hell he was, was gonna be in Greenfield at a breakfast. I went down to the breakfast with her and met the guy. He was a former basketball player, I guess he was about 6' 4". Very dry wit. We were in this very uptight community -- Greenfield, Massachusetts. He was telling self-deprecating jokes -- folksy, he was himself. He enthralled the room, which had a lot of conservative Democrats in it, and a lot of liberals . . .
His next stop was Northampton, which is twenty miles down the highway along the Connecticut river, and so Poppy said, "Why don't you ride with Mo and show him where the Hotel Northampton is." So I got in the car with Mo Udall and he had a driver . . . and I think it was a Plymouth . . . Valiant, or Duster, or some goddamn thing. It was about the smallest car I'd ever seen in my life. Mo was in the back seat, and his knees were literally level with his ears. Poppy was ahead of us in this huge station wagon we'd bought for the kids. I asked him,."Why the hell aren't you up there with Poppy?" He said "Well Bernie" -- the driver -- "would be kind of offended if I rode in someone else's car."
We're driving along, and there's tobacco farming in the Connecticut Valley. They have these big fields covered with cheesecloth nets. If you haven't ever seen one it's a really strange sight, and Udall said "What the hell is that?" I told him they were growing leaf tobacco under there, we called it "shade tobacco" because it was growing under cheesecloth and it was used mainly to wrap cigars. After a while, we pulled up to the stoplight in Northampton, and Bernie, the driver, pulls over to the side of the road after he went through the stoplight and Mo said, "What's goin' on? What are we stoppin' for?" Bernie said, "I can't see Poppy anywhere." And I said, "Oh, she went on to the hotel." Bernie started to take off and Mo said "Wait a minute, I wanna savor this moment." I said "Whaddya mean?" He said, "Well, I believe that I'm the first Presidential candidate in history that actually fucked up a two car procession." So I signed on with him.
We went to Wisconsin, New Hampshire -- we went all over the country with Mo Udall. And he never changed. His wife was just as happy-go-lucky. She was a chain smoker. She was always getting in trouble, especially with the liberals, with the cigarette ashes. She didn't' have any cuffs, to put her ashes in like the guys did, so she'd be standing there with a handful of cigarette ashes. So I bought her a pillbox, a silver pillbox, inset with a wampum shell. She carried that with her everywhere she went. We were really close to Mo Udall.
Udall had Parkinson's disease. And the first sign -- we went to the second Carter nominating convention and Mo was the keynoter. It was very sad because, he looked ill. It hadn't been revealed that he had Parkinson's. He gave a great speech. He was at the Waldorf Astoria. Anyway, his son Brad came on to the floor, looked up Poppy and I, and said "Mo wants you to come over to the room." By this time, Poppy was on the National Committee and we were very strong supporters of Jimmy Carter, but we'd stayed friendly with Mo. We went over -- he was staying in this huge suite at the Waldorf Astoria. He was in this chair, and he looked terrible; he was just exhausted. His hands had a tremble to them. The room was strewn with the remnants of a party. There was a half a gallon of wine by his chair. He didn't drink wine. He had an occasional, rare Scotch. He looked like he was drunk. He came to and got up, there was about ten or fifteen of us, including some people from Wisconsin we'd worked with, and didn't get along with so well.
He started talking and telling stories on himself --like when he got his Secret Service agents . . . twenty-five Secret Service agents traveled with the presidential candidates after they got to a certain level of prominence. He had a Secret Service contingent and they had taken over the jobs that I had been doing -- setting up motorcades, getting cars from one area to another, one speech to another, from one "How'd'ya Do" to another. He had this motorcade with him so my job became, when he was local, to ride around with him and Poppy and other people, and we'd make sure he knew who was gonna be at the next party and the next speech, and who was gonna introduce him and what they were and who they were. He said his wife said, when he came home the first time he had the Secret Service agents with him, they were all big like him, big tall guys, handsome, in suits . . . So he said to his wife, "How do you know, when I get off the airplane, which one's me?" And she said "I just look for the guy with the hard-on and the dirty socks and there you are."
The first time he told this story it was in the Ritz Carlton in Boston, and there was some blue-haired Brahman woman, 90 maybe, who was a resident in the hotel. The guy that told me this was the guy that carried Mo's bags in the campaign. He was a pretty bright guy, and he did a lot of scheduling . . . This day he was assigned to get the candidate's bags up to the room and they were going up the elevator and this was the first time he'd heard Mo tell this story -- he dropped the bags, they crashed to the floor of the elevator and the little old lady leaped into the corner like she'd been shot, and when they got off the elevator, Mo said, "I don't think I lost a vote, do you?" He knew who he was, and so few do, so few of us do. He'd have been a great leader.
I wrote his platform on gun control and based it on the Massachusetts law, which allows everybody who isn't a convicted felon to have a gun, and they don't register the guns, they register the operator, just like a driver. And he was able to sell it. Arizona's a very conservative state and he was a very liberal guy, and he was elected to Congress time after time. He sold the gun control lobby out there by sayin' "You license drivers -- that's all we're doing. And we don't know whether you bought a gun or didn't buy a gun, but you just have to have a license to carry it." They all bought it.
He was going to put in a rail corridor through the East coast, which still hasn't happened.
Bob Doyle was born, in 1937, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Holy Cross College (1959), and obtained his law degree from Georgetown (1963). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961, mostly at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has practiced law in Northampton from 1963 to the present and has been active in Democratic politics ("it seems forever"). He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires. With his friend and colleague, Peter D'Errico, he has for the past decade represented, among others, traditional native peoples and nations. He is married to Poppy McCluskey and they have eight children.