Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In the sweet by and by

It was August in Texas. That's hot.

Congressman Pickle and I were working our way through the 10th District and called on his friend and supporter, Dude Allen, the Postmaster in Smithville. Dude went to get us some iced tea while Pickle sat down at the piano and tinked out a church tune. "Do you know the name of that song?" Pickle asked. I did. He played another. Yep, I knew that one, too. Little did I know I was being reeled in.

Pickle laid out his challenge: a buck for every song he played that I couldn't name. Deal.

Mercifully, he stopped at ten. I was amazed. Not only did he know ten church tunes I had never heard of, he gave a little history about each song.

And that's when he told me that church songs were a life-long interest.

Every Thursday in Washington, members of Congress held a bi-partisan prayer breakfast. And Pickle got three minutes each time to give the history of the hymn chosen that morning. Who was the author and what inspired him? For more than 30 years, Pickle shared his insights at the prayer breakfasts.

Over the years, I wrote hundred and hundreds of speeches for Mr. Pickle. Often, he would call from the floor of the House and say he needed a five-minute speech and here's the points to make.He needed the speech in ten minutes and that included travel time from our office to the Capitol. But we were in sync. I came to think so much the way he did that it helped my personality.

The only time he ever flatly refused "my fine French hand" as he called it, was once when he asked for a speech for the Prayer Breakfast. My form of religion did not match up with his. I never did understand the fine French hand remark. Turns out, he used that term with other staff writers. I did understand, however, that his faith was stronger than mine.

Pickle is gone now. But I'll bet he's still reeling in the money at a dollar a song.

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