A friend told me this true story. When he and his roommate were freshmen at Stanford in the 1950s, he noticed a posting from the dean of students with a list of clubs that had gone defunct but still had money left in their treasury. The two were not political but when they saw that the club with the largest amount, the Young Democrats, had $250 left over all they could think of was how much beer that would buy (In that era, the Stanford student body was mainly Republicans). They rushed to the dean to tell him they had reorganized as Young Democrats and where was the money.
The dean said whoa. First they had to hold an organizational meeting, elect officers and take minutes.
The two enterprising students found a campus meeting place and put a very small notice in the Stanford Daily that an organizational meeting of the Young Democrats would be held the following night at 7 p.m. Then they lined up 14 non-political beer drinkers.
My friend’s colleague started the meeting and announced he was chair when promptly at 7 p.m. a very pretty girl walked in with 40 friends. She announced that no one could be chair until there was a vote. She ran against my friend’s friend. And 40 of her friends voted for her. So did the 14 non-political beer drinkers. After all, she was such a pretty girl. And maybe that was the start of her political career. Her name was Dianne Feinstein (actually it was Dianne Goldman at the time).
Feinstein was indeed a pretty girl. She was one of the school’s most beautiful women featured annually in the college yearbook, a practice that no longer exists.
As a San Francisco supervisor, mayor and as U.S. senator she has been more aptly admired for her intellect. She continues to be a good-looking woman as she has aged even though some now question her mental smarts. But she still surpasses in brain power most of her colleagues in Congress. Shaking Lindsay Graham’s hand was not her best moment. Was it an act of bipartisanship or forgetfulness? After all, at one time, Graham was more or less a good guy as a friend and follower of John McCain. Since then, he seems to only care about political gain and not his reputation. In that handshake, Feinstein seemed oblivious to what it would do for her political career or for her reputation.
An ode to New Jersey: Most residents call it affectionately the armpit of America. But on a recent visit to the central part of the state I found it smelling quite good with spring flowers in full bloom and trees and trees everywhere. New Jersey is also supposed to be one of the densest states but the middle section is quite rural with lots of open space. Yes, it’s also called the Garden State. There are large fields, some of them farmland. Even a modest house seems to have more front and backyards than a $4 million Bay Area home. And history is everywhere. We crossed the Delaware on a bridge that linked New Jersey to Pennsylvania close to where General Washington made the dangerous journey in the Revolutionary War. It seems if you are from New Jersey you are inherently rough and tough: Bruce Springsteen, Chris Christie, Martha Stewart, Jon Stewart and, of course, Tony Soprano. The state’s inhabitants don’t mind if you call it Jersey unlike San Franciscans who recoil if you call their city Frisco.
Still, for many, New Jersey is not the best place to live.
The water is also hard and heavy and you feel dirty after taking a shower. No Hetch Hetchy perfection. It’s a great place to visit in spring and fall unlike the Bay Area, which is great all year round.
Some noticeable obits this month. Most sad was the passing of William Crandall Jr. at much too young an age. He graduated from San Mateo High School in 1983. He worked for Hewlett-Packard for almost 20 years but is best remembered for his advocacy for Teach for America where he served on the board. He followed in the footsteps of his parents, Bill and Jan Crandall, who were active contributors to the community, especially its schools. We also lost two beloved teachers in the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, MaryStella Flynn, Park School; Tazu Takahashi, Abbot Middle School; and Nick Gennaro, former superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District.
Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. She can be reached at email@example.com.