“More Paul Tsongas Stories” by Jim Peters
Frequent contributor Jim Peters shares the following:
I last wrote about Paul beating me at tennis and my beating him at track. After that point, I continued to bicycle (I bicycled an average of thirty-five miles each day), so I did not need a car. We finished painting his front room and one day I received an invitation to attend a meeting for a Brookline politician who was also Greek-American named Michael Dukakis. Mr. Dukakis looked over the one hundred plus people in that room and stated something to the effect that no one buys a home with a room like that unless he has politics in his blood. Which described Paul quite handily. I did not see much of Paul that day but Danny Brosnan asked me if I wanted to meet Paul’s sister. I only knew about Thaliea, his twin, and did not realize that he had a little sister.
She was so inundated with well-wishers that we could not get close enough to make introducations. Paul, in the meantime, was making introductions for Michael Dukakis and I got to meet a man who would become my personal friend for the first time. I diid not say much, Paul did most of the talking in the introduction, and I left on my bike. This was before helmets, and I enjoyed the wind in my hair. I do not know how many people I left at the party but biking seemed like a good way of distancing myself from the hustle and bustle of the crowd.
My father-in-law to be had been introducing himself as the only Republican in the room. I found that to be funny. Paul found it, I believe, to be just another of his father’s jokes. And he had heard most of the jokes at length by then. It turned out to be the second time I had the opportunity to meet my future wife. It was not to be.
At this point, Paul had Congress set in his sights. Mr. Dukakis was right in his observation about the size of the room. It was good for campaigns. On the ride home, I thought alot about who the Paul Tsongas was whom I helped paint that room. He was gracious, humble, funny, and quick with a brush. You had to use a brush, no rollers or gimmicks were allowed. I decided on that bicycle ride that I liked Paul Tsongas. That never changed.