I was sober about eight minutes, when Jimmy Carter was inaugurated. On election night, I passed out before I'd found out whether he'd won. It was the same way with Kennedy. You didn't know who was elected until the next morning. But with Carter, you still didn't know the next morning. It was still up in the air, on the Electoral College vote. I got a call from a friend of mine, I was a Carter Elector. So I actually cast the Massachusetts vote for Carter. "Jimmy Carter for President." My friend who was also an Elector and was also hung-over, very badly hung-over, he says "How bout if we call up that boy down South and tell him Don't believe any rumors, Jimmy, we're still gonna vote for ya, no matter what. What do you think you get out of that, if he thought we were wavering? You know, he'd say 'Thank you' and hang up, and then he'd be thinking 'What are these Irish bastards up to?' We'd get him thinking", and he said, "Maybe we could sell our vote. It'd probably be worthless by this afternoon but what would you like?" And I said, "Well I've always wanted to be Secretary of the Navy. They mistreated me. They didn't recognize my true talent when I was in the Navy. I'd like to be the guy that gets in a helicopter and flies out to a battleship.
Everybody's in uniform and they salute you when you get out of the helicopter, and then you get to sit in the big seat and shoot the big gun. I think I'd like to be Secretary of the Navy."
Jimmy was elected and we went down to the inauguration. I guess I was about 260 lbs, 5'9" -- big bloat. I had a new suit. It was a little tight in the ass, but it was a pretty good suit. So, I'm going to the White House, and I got two things on my mind: What a great guy I am and how well I've done in life because I'm going to the White House. Second, the Secret Service will have my record, and they won't let me in. I got all this on my mind, and we get out of the cab at the hotel, and I stretch out, bend over, and split the ass of my pants, from the belt line to the groin. I'd just burst the seam. We only had about an hour to the first event, so I go up to the room and Poppy sews it, but for the whole weekend I got my hand on my ass, thinking that the Secret Service is gonna throw me out of the White House. Then, I'm standing in line, shaking the President's hand after his inauguration, thinking "I'm smarter than this guy. And taller . . . How come I ain't President?"
Poppy was on the National Committee, so we got invited back to the White House the next day. The first day we were there it was 5000 people, it was wonderful. They put people on the line, to keep you entertained. Mohammed Ali came out. The Johnson sisters came out. Different leading Congressmen and Senators would appear. You'd go around the corner and they'd be standing there -- so you'd have somebody to talk to for the hour and a half you waited to shake the President's hand. So the next day we go back and it's just the National Committees from each State. Poppy had become friendly with Chip Carter [President Carter's son], and they had a brand new baby. We have eight children. By happenstance we were in front of the family elevator, the doors opened and Chip and his wife and the baby came out. Poppy went over to admire the baby, and looked at Chip's wife and said "He may be the President's grandchild, but this diaper sure has a full load in it!" Chip says, "I know, but I don't know what to do. . ." So Poppy said, "Why don't you two go on in and I'll change him." Him or her, I forget which now. Poppy kneels down on this multi-thousand dollar Oriental rug that's in front of the elevator to the private residence of the President. There's Marine guards . . . She's kneeling on the rug and she whips off the kid's diaper and she's wiping the kid, changing the kid . . . The elevator door opens up, she looks up and there's Rosalind & Jimmy, coming down to greet the National Committee members. Jimmy almost steps on his grandchild as he steps off and he looks down and says, "Oh hi Poppy, keep up the good work.'
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.