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8   M i ke Sh a t z k i n

Dick and I shared love for American history, liberal politics, base-ball, and urban living. I was his eager acolyte, lending a hand to any political efort he tapped me for and constantly interviewing him about his own life. I want to share a few of the things I learned about him FROM him over our nearly four decades of conversation. Dick was very modest about his involvement in history, almost as if he felt it would compromise his credentials as a historian to write himself into the story. Well, I have no credentials as a historian to sully; I’m just Dick’s friend. This is what I know.

Dick grew up near Chicago, a White Sox fan because Democrats were White Sox fans. William Wrigley, who owned the Cubs, was both a Republican and a Klan sympathizer. Dick was also a superior athlete, a Junior Davis Cupper in tennis and a football player. He enrolled at the University of Rochester just before World War II; I don’t know if Dick was pulling my leg when he told me that HE thought he was going to Rochester, Minnesota right up until he got his train ticket to go to college.

The way Dick told it, he wasn’t much of a student his frst three years. But in his senior year, he sufered a serious football injury. He never actually said so, but he led me to believe that injury turned his hair gray and made him unable to father children (although he did a great job with two he adopted.) While he was recovering, he had to sit around for the frst time in his life. “First I taught myself to smoke a pipe,” he told me. “After that, I was looking for something to do while I smoked the pipe and I read the frst book I had ever read without it being required of me. I loved it.” And that, he would have had me believe, was how he discovered that he wanted to be a scholar.

In 1946, Dick was a graduate assistant at Harvard when young John F. Kennedy came by looking for support in his frst race for Congress. That began a friendship which lasted until JFK’s tragic death and an association with the Kennedy family that was one of the defning aspects of Dick’s life.

Dick had two fabulous stories about 1948. I can’t remember all the details, but at an ADA convention, he ended up being put up in an extra room in Eleanor Roosevelt’s suite. His story about that was he was awakened by the sound of the typewriter well before dawn, as she wrote her daily newspaper column. That same year, Dick wrote the famous civil rights speech delivered by then-Mayor of Minneapo-lis Hubert Humphrey at the Democratic Convention. Dick said that if that speech had been delivered at a time other than the middle of the

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