THE talk about state troopers and gubernatorial trysts in...

Salmagundi

January 06, 1994

THE talk about state troopers and gubernatorial trysts in the life of Bill Clinton sets bells ringing for Marylanders with long memories. We quote from Bradford Jacobs' book, "Thimbleriggers," as he chronicled Marvin Mandel's famous romance with Jeanne Dorsey during his days as speaker of the House and governor of Maryland:

"Immediate reports were elementary, credible. A pedestrian had been killed, the governor injured somewhat in an accident on the road leading from Southern Maryland. A state trooper was driving the governor, but he seemed not to blame. . . Only a small detail dangled.

"Where in Southern Maryland had the governor been coming from? Why at that early morning hour? . . . This report found at least a handful of upper-level State House officials profoundly unsurprised. To them Marvin Mandel's disappearances had become a weekly phenomenon.

"Thursday afternoons he would slip quietly out of the governor's office: no destination was recorded on his engagement book. Friday mornings he would show up, the customary gray shadows beneath his eyes gone a shade deeper. . .

"Documentable facts about Marvin Mandel's romance with Jeanne Dorsey are scarce. . . She encircled him. Tempted, yet inherently cautious, he resisted. Slowly their affair budded, flowered -- but always studiously fenced in by Marvin's sense of propriety, also his fear of political repercussions. Clandestine meetings multiplied, intimacy ensued. . . .

"Leonardtown is too intimate a village to be deceived. Soon stories began to rustle in courthouse corridors: Guess what turned up last night at the bottom of the hill, at Breton Bay Drive? A big black car! . . . Why was that trooper -- Gibson? -- drinking coffee cup after cup for hours at the state police barracks? Someone reported a state chopper buzzing down noisily on a dusty field nearby. Somebody else told of seeing through the Dorsey shrubbery, early one morning, a golfer practicing chip shots on the Dorsey front lawn. It was a man, the observer said, who looked like Governor Mandel."

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