Schaefer, in his own words

January 15, 1995|By Sandy Banisky and Doug Birch

Over the past two months, Governor Schaefer reflected on his political career and personality in a series of interviews with Sun reporters Sandy Banisky and Doug Birch. These comments are excerpts from those sessions.

On his drive

You have the brightest person in the world, if they don't have any ambition, they don't have any drive and they don't have any incentive, they don't have any vision, they don't care. Give me a person who's not the brightest, like me, not the brightest person in the world, but has a passion, a passion for doing things for people and caring about people. Give me a couple of people like that. . . . The self-satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference in a kid's life, in an older person's life, that's great."

On prayers

I say my prayers every night. I have times of doubt, particularly when you see the suffering of people and you don't understand it. But then, something good happens in life. Something nice happened recently when Bishop [William] Keeler was made cardinal. That was nice. When my own bishop came down to talk to me and pray with me. And then I used to have a group of black ministers, Rev. [Winfield] Showell, Bishop [Monroe] Saunders. They'd read the paper when I was really getting hurt, hit, smashed around, and Bishop Saunders would call up and say, "I've got to see you. . . . He'd say, "Well, I've been reading the paper, and I want you to know that I love you." (He pantomimes tears running down his face). It was very emotional. And he would say, "Let's pray," and we'd pray."

On his dark moods:

It's just when you're being hurt, really hurt, by press, by letters, by the way I was treated on the Eastern Shore. It does affect my moods. It doesn't affect my thinking, but it makes me very sad. That's one side of it, the other side of it is to go around and see the poor people. . . . I could just see their houses, Jesus, how they lived. I could see how their kids were treated, and I'd go to the prison, I'd see these people in the prisons."

On his sentimentality:

(Visiting Marley Elementary School) They always would have a big sign, "Welcome Governor Schaefer." . . . And then we take the flag out and they pledge allegiance and they sing "Maryland, My Maryland," and I start to cry. I couldn't stop crying, and I think, "Good God, 73 years old and these kids make you cry. . . . There was another thing that day, and I stand there and I'm looking at these kids, and I looked at every one of their faces, every darn face in there, and I thought, "I wonder which one is going to be in trouble? I wonder which one is going to be on drugs? I wonder which one will be the governor? . . . What is the future for all of them?"

On his patron Irv Kovens:

Early in the game, he said, "You always worry about elections. I'm going to call you Shaky. . . . Any time I would call him or talk to him or anything and sounded worried, he would say, "What now, Shaky? Don't worry about it. Everything is fine. Everything's fine. . . ." He raised money for me. And the other part of it was, he never asked for me to do anything. He never requested me to do anything. . . . I said, "Now, what kind of strings you pulling? I know you're raising money. I know you're helping me, but I'm going to vote the way I want. . . ." He said, "That's fine with me. OK. Do what you want to do. Just do the right thing." . . . And that's why I'd stick by him, and I think about him. I was thinking that in these last four years, had he have been alive, I wouldn't have had a lot of the troubles I had.

On boosterism

Everything, I used to say, has got to be an event. What the hell is the use of doing it if it's no event? Nobody knows about it. What the hell is the use of doing it? Whether it was a street, whether it was a lamp post. . . . We'd send out brochures to the whole goddarn community. . . . Get everybody there. . . . So [staff people] would look at me and say, "Oh, Jesus, you know, we've got enough to do without all this crap. Why can't we just put the goddarn light up and turn it on? Everybody would be happy. . . ." Not for me. We pushed the light and we walked across the street and we got the cakes on the side. . . .

On his anger:

Sometimes I was very serious because I was very unhappy at the way things were going, things were being done. . . . And, you know, one of the things that used to really get me was, I'd find something where we could have helped someone and we didn't do it. I'd really get outraged at that, very unhappy about that. And that used to make me mad. Part of it was, they [staffers] never knew whether I was really very mad or whether I wasn't, whether I was very serious. But they all know, don't take a chance on trying to find which.

On being a demanding boss:

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