Schaefer Revisits Schaefer

October 23, 1994


Governor Schaefer remembers Edward Bennett Williams as "a good man; a wonderful, warm individual." He also remembers how he and Mr. Williams would meet "secretly" to conduct their negotiations.

He would call me up, and we'd meet secretly at a hotel. A little hotel on Pleasant Street. The Tremont. We used to go up to the top floor and we'd sit down and we'd start to eat. And then we'd start to do negotiations. Everything would be pleasant and then all of a sudden he'd get up and start walking up and down, up and down. And he'd say, "That's the thanks I get. All I've done for you and all I've done for the city -- and this is what you're doing to me." I said, "What am I doing to you?" And he said, "You're not doing what you should be doing for me." Then we'd negotiate.

Next time we have dinner and he gets up, storms up and down. "Oh, my God, how could you do this to me, Don? All I've done for the city." The second time I'm watching him do this I thought, "He's pleading a case before the jury." And this time I'm laughing to myself. Then he'd say, after he put on his performance, "I want this, I want that, I want this." And we'd negotiate. And I'd say, "Yes, yes, yes."

When Governor Schaefer stopped to look at this photograph he didn't see H.L. Mencken. He saw someone else: his father.

That's my father! That's exactly what my father looked like! Take away the hair, that's him. My father always had a cigar stuck in his face, he had horn-rimmed glasses, he wore short-sleeve shirts and, most times, suspenders.

My father believed in hard work. He worked for the Maryland Title Guarantee Company and he used to work five and a half days -- a half-day on Saturday. And then time came on when they cut out the half-day. My father thought he was stealing from the company. He couldn't understand that... He was really a good, good man. I guess the honesty, and the hard work are the things I inherited from him...I also got my great interest in planting my own flowers from him. When I go out in the yard (at the West Baltimore home) I remember how my father used to love to come home at night and work in the flowers. That was a tension release for him. Then I got started doing that.

In the summers of his childhood, the entire family would vacation down at Marley Creek in Anne Arundel County. Young Donald and his mother would spend the entire week there; his father would come on weekends. Father and son were very close.

"If they were both sitting on the sofa, one of them would have his arm around the other's shoulder," a niece, Anita Kienzle, once told The Evening Sun. Now the five-year-old boy in the picture is a 72-year-old man. But he remembers vividly those days at Marley Creek.

I used to play on that beach all the time. There was a little pier with a sandy beach at the bottom. I used to go fishing there. My father liked to fish and we used to row, my father and I, to a cove back there. There was a sandbar there and we'd anchor the boat to the sandbar. And we'd catch yellow perch and white perch. And crabs. I remember that so well.

But the photograph jogs loose other memories, more recent ones, of his father. Of how, for instance, when Donald spent four years overseas in World War II, his father wrote him a letter every day. And of how his father died. That day in 1959 when his father had a heart attack is etched clearly in his mind: the detail, the texture, the exact minute it happened.

One Saturday I said to my father, "We've got to clean up the front yard."...So we went outside and clipped the hedge -- there was a big hedge right in front of the slope. So we were cutting the hedge and the clippings were all over the place. So I said, "I'll go in and get a bag." So I went up the steps and I went in. I came out. I looked for him. Couldn't find him. And so I walked down the steps. And there he was. He was lying out on the sidewalk. He was dead.

Describing Robert Irsay as a "very odd, strange man," Governor Schaefer recalls the winter night that the Colts' owner showed up at BWI airport to scream and rant at reporters -- and then to suddenly depart in his private plane.

Irsay called me the night before and said, "I'm flying in to Baltimore. I want to go to Tio Pepe's." And I said, "Jeez, Mr. Irsay, I can't get you a reservation there. It takes two weeks." And he said, "I don't care. Get me a reservation at Tio Pepe's." So I called Tio Pepe's and said, "I need a reservation." They said, "Sorry, we can't help you." And I said, "I've got to have it. Irsay's coming." So they said, "All right. We'll do it." So he flies in. And he's absolutely wild. He gets before the cameras, and he lets them have it. And I'm trying, I'm really trying, to understand why he's acting this way...Anyway, I'm dying. But he finishes and I say, "OK, Mr. Irsay, are you ready to go to Tio Pepe's?" And he says, "No. I'm going back to Chicago. Goodbye." Said he didn't remember calling me up to go to Tio Pepe's.

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