Sunday, May 01, 2005

Encounter with the Wisecracking Senator

His shoulders were perhaps a bit more stooped than the last time I saw him, but there was no mistaking his touseled mane of silver hair. Dressed in a rumpled sports coat and open-collared shirt, former U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton stood next to the open door of his Toyota on Washington Avenue last Tuesday, waiting for workers from a nearby frame shop to carry out his purchases. When I introduced myself, he apologized for his hearing loss and leaned a bit closer to hear me above the din of traffic noise. Eagleton, a three-term senator from Missouri and briefly the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1972, didn't recall our prior meeting a few years ago, when I interviewed him as a reporter for a local alternative weekly newspaper. But he was, nonetheless, amused by my new incarnation. Gazing at the city identification card that hung around my neck, the senator quipped: "What's that for, in case you get lost?"