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Stephen F. Austin State University

Lorri Donnahoe

Biography

Lorri Donnahoe was born in 1952 in Kentucky, but grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father and grandparents were interested in politics that influenced her. She moved to Lufkin, TX in 1988 and worked as a caseworker at the Texas Department of Human Services. She began working for Charlie Wilson with Social Security casework in 1993 and until he resigned.

Interview Notes

Interviewer's Name: Randi B. Cox

Interview Date and Location: The interview was conducted on March 25, 2011, on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas

Context Notes: Interview and transcription completed in conjunction with the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas (Spring 2011).

During one point in the interview the listener can hear a chair in the background moving and squeaking. Close to the end of the interview the camera operator has to change the video tape so the listener hears the video tape being changed.

Tapes and Interview Record: The original recordings of the interview and a full transcript are held by the East Texas Research Center, R. W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.

Transcription Notes: The policy of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project has been to eliminate false starts and crutch words from transcriptions when determined not to affect the meaning and flow of the spoken word. Obviously, and admittedly, this is a subjective endeavor and all care was taken to maintain the integrity of the interview.

The interviewer Randi B. Cox is identified as COX. Lorri Donnahoe is identified as DONNAHOE.

Transcript

Begin Interview

COX:: This is Randi

COX:. Today is Friday, March 25, 2011, and I am interviewing Lorri Donnahoe for the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project sponsored by and held at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Lorri Donnahoe started in Charlie Wilson's district office as a Social Security caseworker. Donna, excuse me, Lorri, am I correct at pronouncing your name correctly? Is it Donna-hoe?

DONNAHOE: It is Donna-hoe.

COX:: Very good. Let's start with some basic background information. What year were you born and where did you grow up?

DONNAHOE: I was born in 1952 in Kentucky but grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.

COX:: Can you tell me a little bit about your family, your parents and their . . .

DONNAHOE: Staunch Democrats, actually. My mom is from West Virginia and grew up during the Depression there. And FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] and the WPA [Works Progress Administration] pretty much salvaged their lives. My dad is from northeastern Kentucky, and another kind of poor area. He taught in a one-room schoolhouse. So, they met in Clarksville [West Virginia], moved to Kentucky, and then to Memphis.

COX:: Were they interested in politics?

DONNAHOE: My dad kept up religiously. My mother, not as much, but my grandparents, very much into politics, especially because FDR saved their lives. And they kept up with politics after that. And my mother's only sister worked for Communication Workers of America for forty-three years, so very active. In fact, she probably knew Charlie's voting record better than he did [

COX: chuckles]. No, Charlie knew his voting record, but I have a family that kept up with politics.

COX:: So, being involved in this is kind of a family tradition for you.

DONNAHOE: It is a family tradition. When I moved to Lufkin, I had only been here a month when Charlie's interview with 60 Minutes [October 30, 1988] came on the air, and my dad was on the phone right then, "Hey, your congressman." And I was like, "I don't know my congressman yet." But, yeah, so he was right on top of it.

COX:: Had you been involved with politics in other places that you lived? Was that something that you, or was it, why, how did you come to know Charlie? How did you get involved in this?

DONNAHOE: When I worked at the Texas Department of Human Services, I was an eligibility worker for food stamps, Medicaid, and AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children], which is now called TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]. And one day I got a call from a caseworker in Charlie's office who was asking what could be done for one of the constituents that had kidney disease and needed a transplant. And so I told her what programs we had available. It was a child. And after that, she and I started an informal network of information and referral, and I could refer people to her if they were having trouble with Social Security. She would refer people to me who needed assistance with other things, and I shared my referral list with her for housing and other assistance programs.

COX:: So, you were already a caseworker.

DONNAHOE: I was already a caseworker, and when she left the district office, [Wilson's Administrative Assistant] Peyton Walters from the D.C. office and [Wilson's District Manager] Sean Davis from the district office contacted me. And that's how I got there.

COX:: What made you decide to become a caseworker in the first place?

DONNAHOE: When I moved from South Carolina, I wanted to do something different. The first ten years of my life, the first ten years of my married life, we moved seven times in ten years.

COX:: Wow.

DONNAHOE: And I was teaching music, and I started getting very tired of starting a studio and leaving, starting and leaving. So, when we moved to Lufkin, I decided to do something totally different. And that's how I got into casework, and I found that I loved it.

COX:: Do you recall why you chose that as opposed to something else?

DONNAHOE: I had a hard time [chuckles] finding work, and I did have a part-time job prior to becoming a caseworker, but it was hard to find a job at that time.

COX:: Do you recall what year?

DONNAHOE: It was 1988.

COX:: And, so, how long did you do that before you started working for Charlie?

DONNAHOE: I was a caseworker with DHS for four years, and I worked briefly for Buckner [Buckner Children and Family Services], and then I went to work for Charlie in 1993.

COX:: Nineteen ninety-three. And through the remainder of his term in office?

DONNAHOE: Right. Until he resigned [in 1996].

COX:: And, as I understand it, your primary position there was as a Social Security caseworker. Is that right?

DONNAHOE: It was, and anything else that fell through the cracks that people didn't or that people needed help. So, Charlie would come home, he always ate lunch with us. He would come by the office and get a couple of us, go to lunch. The next day he would come and get, you know, a couple of others. But at night he would go, typically, to one of the cafeterias in Lufkin, and the next day, he would bring me pieces of napkin with people's telephone numbers [

COX: chuckles]. And he would say, "I met them last night at Luby's, and they need some help with," whatever it was. Most of the time it was Social Security. And we got a lot of casework when we did the mobile office runs [the mobile office was a recreational vehicle]. And by the time I went to work for Charlie he had such a reputation for helping the homefolks and his office did do probably more casework than any other congressional office. They were in the top for casework. So by the time I got there, he had helped someone's brother, someone's cousin. And people would call and say, "Charlie helped my mom get her Social Security, and now my brother's disabled." So, I got a lot of referrals that way. But it was a heavy caseload for Social Security and VA [Veterans Affairs] benefits.

COX:: Could you walk me through, and I know the mobile office is a little bit different, and I want to talk about that, but if we started with your, just a regular day in the Lufkin office, could you walk me through a typical day?

DONNAHOE: Lots of phone calls and lots of walk-ins to open cases and also to check on statuses for different cases. I primary worked with people who were filing for their disability. The disability process for Social Security is very long and I would talk to people on the phone, talk to walk-ins. And part of my day would also be on the telephone with contacts with Social Security and the Disability Determination Services. So, that would also be part of my day. Then, phone calls that came in that didn't fit anywhere else for assistance; I would get those, too.

COX:: Why was it so difficult to determine who was eligible for benefits?

DONNAHOE: It's not.

COX:: I'm just curious about what the . . .

DONNAHOE: For disability?

COX:: Yeah. What the process was?

DONNAHOE: The process, when you file for disability, they collect all of your doctor's records and that's sent to Austin to a Disability Determination Services. It's actually run by the State Rehab Commission, but it's federally funded, and it's a paper review of records. So, a lot of times, especially in Deep East Texas where people do not have a lot of experience dealing with government programs, they may or may not mention everything that's important. So, with a paper review, maybe 35 per cent get approved. And they would come to my office, or Charlie's office, and say, "They didn't even look at this!" "Did you tell them that you went to Dr. Brown and that you have this diagnosis?" "Well, no. I thought that they just got all my records." "Did you tell them about Dr. Brown?" So, we would work with them and things like that. They could appeal. It would go back for a second paper review, and typically only 10 to 20 per cent of those appeals were approved. The next step was before an administrative law judge out of Dallas where they got to meet face-to-face, and we would familiarize them with the process, everything that they needed to do. We would explain to them the time that was required for each phase of the application process and the appeal process. During that time, we were in touch with Social Security, the Disability Determination Services, and the hearing office, so we could, it was easy for us to get status updates for them. Then, once they had a hearing, we would stay in touch with the hearing office to keep them advised of the timetable, and if anything happened, any other further diagnoses or treatment, we would make sure that information got to the hearing office. And we worked with the Social Security district office to make sure that the constituents got all the services they needed in order to file that application as easily as they could. We also dealt with a few problems with retirement benefits or overpayments, things like that. But a lot of times the people that came in just didn't, they were frustrated and afraid of the government process. They were just unfamiliar with it.

COX:: Why do you think that was?

DONNAHOE: Deep East Texas, rural areas, people have not been around government agencies. And also the educational level. Typically, people filing for disability did not have a lot of education. People that become disabled, like yourself, it's okay if you've hurt your foot because you are not depending on standing on your feet all day at Lufkin Industries on a concrete floor. And if you've done that for thirty years, and you may or may not have a high school education, and that's all you know, it's, the process is intimidating. I don't know if that answers your question [Donnahoe laughs].

COX:: No. It certainly does, and it seems to me that education level would perhaps be a part of it. I wonder, you mentioned suspicion of government. And I wonder about, this, of course, is a very conservative part of the country.

DONNAHOE: Yes.

COX:: I sense sometimes that Ronald Reagan's slogan that, "Government is the problem, not the solution."

DONNAHOE: [Unintelligible brief response].

COX:: I wonder about whether people believe that, right. That they're kind of hesitant to go to government. Are they embarrassed about going to government for help, or are they afraid of going to government for help? And so, I was wondering, if you had a sense of that.

DONNAHOE: I think it's a combination, and they came to our office because Charlie was out in the district so much, he didn't look like government. He looked like their friend, and he treated Deep East Texas like a friend. He didn't meet any strangers, so I think that was. But I do think that Deep East Texas people are an independent lot, and we did see people come in who had sold everything before they would ask for help from Social Security even though they had paid into it all of their lives. And I know that because there is abuse in any kind of program, like food stamps or Social Security Disability, some people did not want to be associated with that, and it was embarrassing to them.

COX:: And by the early nineties, you know, this part of the country is a pretty Republican part of the country, and yet Charlie continues to get elected. Why do you think that is?

DONNAHOE: People crossed party lines to vote for him, primarily because he had helped someone in their family. That's what I like to think. Also, he was honest. He made a lot of goofs, "Good Time Charlie," but people were happy when he said, "Yes, I did. And moving right along." And Charlie was not a stranger to the district. He went to all the different counties, all the little, not all, but a lot of, the parades for mayhaw jelly or, I think there is a Mayhaw Festival. He would go, and people knew him. They would cross party lines, but you're right. As time went on, it became more and more Republican, and in 1994, when [Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives] Newt Gingrich came in with the "Contract for America," Charlie, we watched a lot of his long-time Democratic friends in Congress go out. And that was, his '92 and '94 campaigns were tough because a lot of people started voting straight ticket. But I think they voted for Charlie because they knew him or someone that he had helped.

COX:: What do you think motivated him? Do you think it was about ideas, ideology? Do you think it was about people? What do you think it was about for him?

DONNAHOE: I think it was about the people in Deep East Texas. He's known for "Charlie Wilson's War." Here, he is known as people's friends. He was from Trinity County, a little county. His mother was very involved with the community and the church there. He grew up watching her interact with people in Trinity County that needed help, and he cared. He liked people. He, of course, was very fond of the veterans and anyone who needed help. He had, Deep East Texas rural counties . . . need help [chuckles], and he saw that. And he was from here, and he loved people.

COX:: Do you think that he felt that government would play a different role here than it would in other parts of Texas?

DONNAHOE: He knew that it would if he fought for it. That's how we got the VA Clinic. It was going to go somewhere else. They said, "You don't need a VA clinic in Lufkin." And, of course, the first year that it opened, they had twice as many people as they anticipated. But, you know, he saw his role in government as an opportunity to serve the people here. And that's why he had a very, very active district office. He knew that we could make a call and say, "Hi. This is Lorri from Congressman Charlie Wilson's Office, and I have a constituent, Joe Smith, that is having a little trouble with his Disability. Could you check on that status for me?" And, because he was a congressman, and that was a federal agency, we could do that. And he knew that, and he put us to work.

COX:: Are there any cases that you worked with in that capacity that you feel particularly proud of when you look back at?

DONNAHOE: There are several cases I can think of where contacting our office made a difference. The first two levels of the Social Security process are merely paper reviews, and I could call one of our contacts and say, "He was in my office. Do you have anything documented about his neuropathy?" "Well, no, we don't." "Well, he dropped a pot of grease on his foot, and he didn't even feel it. He has a huge burn on there. He's having trouble with the wound healing." And because we shared that information, they were able to send him to the doctor for a consultative exam, and he got his benefits. And that happened with a lot of different things. Sometimes we could call because we saw the person face-to-face, and I would say, "This is the situation." And our contact in Austin would say, "Let me check on the case, see if we've got anything on that. If not, we'll schedule an exam and see what we can do."

COX:: I have a question about that and that you may be able to shed some light on having worked both in the Social Security side of it and in the congressional office side of it. And forgive me if this is an ignorant question. But what percentage of people would you say who go through the Social Security system do you think call on a member of congress or some kind of external help? Because one of the things I wonder about that is, does it mean, does it tell us anything about the efficiency of the Social Security system? Does it mean that people are getting stuck in the Social Security system that a member of congress is being called upon to facilitate things?

DONNAHOE: I think the Social Security Administration really does a wonderful job. They have, I have no clue how many thousands and thousands of applications they have. I know for the hearing office in Dallas, and they have two, at any time, each of those offices could have anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 cases pending.

COX:: So maybe what, maybe they're understaffed?

DONNAHOE: I think [chuckles]. I think a lot of federal agencies are understaffed right now [

COX: chuckles]. But when you look at those kind of numbers, if you have that many cases in an office, there will be an occasional one that starts to fall through the cracks. Overall, I think that they're a very efficient agency, and I think there's a lot of caring people. I think that it's frustrating to wait in line for your turn. And when people have to wait in line for their turn, and they don't understand the process, they do contact someone. And sometimes we can, if there's extenuating circumstances, if someone's going to lose their house, we can call and say, "They've got a foreclosure notice." And they can try to bump that case up. But you can't have every case bumped up. And we would help people understand it is a process. There are X number of people just like you. They have to take it in order. I don't know if I've answered your question, but I think Social Security does a great job. I think probably more people in Charlie's district contacted us than in a lot of other districts simply because we would dig in, find where a case was, and explain the process.

COX:: Because he was known for making those kinds of . . .

DONNAHOE: He was known . . .

COX:: . . . personal connections.

DONNAHOE: . . . for making things happen.

COX:: Well, you mentioned that you also worked in the "mobile office," so maybe we could talk about that for a little bit. So, I understand that they had a Foretravel Mobile Home.

DONNAHOE: Right.

COX:: And you guys would load that up and travel around. How many of you would go?

DONNAHOE: Usually about four.

COX:: And would you do the same kind of casework that you would do in the Lufkin office?

DONNAHOE: We did. People that could not get into Lufkin, we would pull up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and people would already be lined up. We would go to a couple of counties one day to two or three locations, and people who could not get in to Lufkin would come, and people that knew us, people that had been in to Lufkin from other counties, would come just to say hello. But after the mobile office runs, Norma [Butler] and I (the VA caseworker), we came back with a lot more work.

COX:: [Chuckles] She [Norma Butler] said the same thing.

DONNAHOE: [Chuckles] We came back with a lot more work. And when other people went out, we wouldn't go on the runs sometimes, but they would bring back a lot of forms with names and numbers.

COX:: Did Charlie ever go?

DONNAHOE: He may have. He was never on one that I went on. We did, our District Director would go. And a lot of times people would ask, "Well, where's Charlie?" I don't believe, I know he was not on any that I went on. He may have been in the early days.

COX:: Are there are things that, when you were working in that office, are there things that you wish that you had accomplished that you were not able to?

DONNAHOE: My days were pretty full. I think if I had had more hours in the day, I would have been able to pursue any resource under any rock. As it was . . . I worked with what I had. I feel like I did as much as I could, when I look back. It was a satisfying job. Everyone that called in got attention from me or from another caseworker. And sometimes we would make referrals. I didn't know if the people themselves actually followed up. If it was something in Social Security, I could check and make sure they had followed up. If it was with another state agency or local agency, I just didn't have that luxury.

COX:: What in particular did you find really satisfying about it? When you talk, you have this great enthusiasm, and . . .

DONNAHOE: When cases . . .

COX:: . . . for people that aren't watching the video, I see you're just, your face, it's just.

DONNAHOE: [Donnahoe laughs] When cases got approved that we had had a role in. Typically, it was information that the people didn't even think to share, or it was that face-to-face contact. But when people got approved, when we had worked on cases that our face-to-face made a difference in timeliness or approval, "Yes!" That was great.

COX:: This is a little bit off the topic of what we've been talking about, but something that historians are often curious about is the experiences of different groups of people. And so, I'm curious about your experiences as a woman working in an office in this period of time. And certainly the nineties, we wouldn't experience, women to experience the same kind of discrimination that they might have in the sixties, say.

DONNAHOE: Right.

COX:: But I'm curious how your male co-workers reacted to you or male constituents reacted to you. If they trusted you with their, when you're dealing with Disability, you're dealing with some really delicate, personal medical issues.

DONNAHOE: That's true [chuckles]. That's true. I think it was okay because they saw me not just as someone who could help them but also as, I don't want to be their mother, but a kindly face. It may have been an advantage as a caseworker to be a woman. I know, as far as the staff in Lufkin, we were very, very close. And I think that the male staff were just as happy to hear about wounds and illness. I mean, they were happy that I could listen to that instead of them. They were very happy that Norma and I were there to hear the gruesome details of people's lives. And yes, there were times when there were too, there was too much information, but being a woman was probably actually an advantage for a caseworker.

COX:: I, no, that seems to make a lot of sense that people might confide in you the way that they might a nurse.

DONNAHOE: Right. And, you know, I like to listen. And if you listen to someone's story when they come in, they will talk and give you the information that you need most of the time. Sometimes they talk too much, but I think Charlie chose people that he knew could listen, people that were truly people people, people that liked people. And his caseworkers liked people.

COX:: I also wanted to ask you about the relationship between the district office and the Washington office. How often did you get to see Charlie? How often was he able to come back? The kind of communications that you had with him while he was in Washington and the staff people there in Washington?

DONNAHOE: The Washington office was great. When we got inquiries, complaints about legislative issues, we could funnel that up, and they would take care of it pronto. When they got calls about casework, they would send that to us. If we got complaints about D.C., we made no judgments. We would get in touch with D.C. and say, "What can you tell us?" And they would say, "We'll call them again." And the same thing, if people got frustrated with us, and called the D.C. office, D.C. would say, "Ahh, well, we understand that that is taking a long time, but we can check, too." So, there was a mutual respect for what each of the offices did. When Charlie came home, he always came by the district office to see us and go to lunch. And there were times when he would be home more, campaign he would be home more. But the, I always felt supported by the Washington office, and the Chief of Staff in Washington, Peyton Walters while I was there, was wonderful. When I was hired, he would call down frequently and ask how things were going. "Is there anything we can do to help you?" So I think there was a really great working relationship between both offices. And I know in some congressional offices, it was not that way. But we respected each other and were mutually supportive.

COX:: So, when you said "complaints" and you smiled, what kind of complaints did you get?

DONNAHOE: Oh, you know, "I talked to Lorri two weeks ago, and I still don't have a hearing." And even though I had explained the process to them, I think some of them thought if they called Washington, that's actually where Charlie was, and maybe that would speed it up.

COX:: Did they get, did you get complaints about them?

DONNAHOE: About the D.C. office?

COX:: About the D.C. office.

DONNAHOE: Not too much, and they didn't get many complaints about us either. But when we did get complaints . . . we were just nice and talked to whoever we needed to talk to. And whoever needed to call them back would call them back. We didn't get too many complaints. We may have, but not in our face [laughter]. They may have talked about us in the community, but we didn't get too many complaints. And if people complained, they weren't really angry with us. They were upset with an agency or an entity that had "done them wrong" but not about us. They saw us as a helper.

COX:: [To the camera operator] Well, do you need to change tapes, or are you okay? [The camera operators states, "No, I'm okay."]

COX:: Okay. We're coming towards the end of our time, so I want to make sure that you have a chance to talk about any of the things that I haven't asked about that you would like to talk about. If there are particular memories of Charlie that you have that you want to make sure that are recorded. Are there, is there a particular moment that you were particularly proud to be working with Charlie? Or that a time that you shared in that office that you want to share, make sure is part of the historical record?

DONNAHOE: I guess my favorite thing, Charlie loved people, and he loved his staff. He worked hard. He played hard. He expected us to work hard, but he would also make sure that we had a little fun time. And one of my favorite memories, two of my favorite memories. It was great fun to have him at home, kicked back in the office or at his home telling stories, great storyteller. And he loved to tell stories about his friends, his family, and the staff, and himself. He always laughed at himself. But one of my favorite things, the last year that he was in office, I was at lunch with him with another staffer, and he made the comment that he was about to go on his last carrier tour, and I said, "Oh, which carrier?" He said, "The Constellation." I said, "That's the carrier that my husband was on." He said, "Oh, really?" So, we chatted, and that afternoon, he called. He said, "Okay, Lorri. Don't say anything." "Okay." He said, "If I could get Glenn as one of the members on my carrier tour, do you think he would be interested?" Glenn is my husband. I said, "He would love that." He said, "Don't say anything." So, I didn't say anything. Two weeks later, Charlie called our house. I wasn't there. He talked to Glenn . . . and finally Glenn said, "Lorri's not here. Can I take a message?" And Charlie said, "Oh, no. I was calling for you. Listen, if you could get out to San Diego next week, would you be interested in going on a carrier tour with me? I'm making a tour of The Constellation." Glenn was thrilled. He worked on the flight-deck. So, we went out. He [Charlie] said, "I don't know if I can get Lorri on the tour, but bring her out anyway. Worst case scenario is she has two days in San Diego." The carrier was in the water, so you had to fly out and fly back in. Well, I did get to go on the tour, and we flew out, landed on the carrier.

COX:: In a helicopter, or in a.

DONNAHOE: In a little plane, and then we were catapulted back off. But during the tour, I would say to Glenn, "Was this what it was like when you were here?" And Glenn would say, "Are you kidding? I never saw this part of the ship." And at the time, my husband had a little pony tail, and he worked for the U.S. Forest Service for thirty-three years, so he was working for the Forest Service, which is very conservative, and drove a few people crazy that he had the pony tail. Charlie loved it. Charlie loved a renegade. Charlie loved for his staff to be different, his staff's spouses. So, every time he introduced Glenn to someone on the carrier, he would say, "This is Glenn Donnahoe. He works for the U.S. Forest Service, and he served on The Constellation from '71 to '73, and he has a pony tail" [laughter]. He didn't always put in the pony tail, but he did sometimes, so that was, that was a great memory. And if he knew of anything he could do for the staff that would make them happy, he would do it.

COX:: That's a great story.

DONNAHOE: It's a great story. And anyone on the staff could tell you stories like that that he has done for them personally or for their family. So, and even when he left office, there was not one of us that would not drop anything and do it for him if he asked because he would do the same thing for us. He was a great boss, great man.

COX:: You said there were two.

DONNAHOE: Oh, well, one was just kicking back at his house and hearing the stories. The other one was a little more personal with the trip on the carrier.

COX:: Well, that is about all the time that we have allocated, so I can take you back. But I just, I want to give you one more moment. I don't want to, I'd hate for you to get back and think, "Oh, I was going to say something about, and then I forgot."

DONNAHOE: I'll tell you one more [chuckles]. When I first went to work at Charlie's office, I got a call, and, "Can I help you?" "Well, my cat is up a tree." [The camera operator asks, "Just one second. I apologize. Sorry, you just got into the story, and it was like, 'Oh, is it going to, can it make it? No.' Okay?]

COX:: You know, Norma said something about a cat in a tree, and I thought she was exaggerating. I didn't think she really meant a cat in a tree [

COX: laughs].

DONNAHOE: [Whispers dramatically] Yes.

COX:: [

COX: laughs] I thought, you know, she was saying, "Look, you know, there's a cat in a tree, and there's a this and a that, and a." [

COX: chuckles] Apparently, she meant a cat in a tree.

DONNAHOE: You know, and I know we're off here, but Charlie loved his Lufkin house, and I don't know if anyone has mentioned this. He had over a hundred bird houses in his backyard. And when he wasn't there, he paid someone to go over and feed them [

COX: chuckles]. Isn't that wild?

COX:: That is wild. What kind of birds did he keep? Just like local songbirds?

DONNAHOE: Local birds. He had all kinds of bird houses. But I got a call one time from a woman who said, "My cat is in a tree." And I said, "Well, have you called the fire department?" And she said, "Well, no. Not yet. I always call Charlie for everything" [

COX: chuckles]. And I said, "Oh. Well, he is in D.C. right now, but maybe you could check with the fire department." And she said, "Okay. Well, I've always voted for Charlie, and I like to check in with him." So, I didn't hear back from her. I'm guessing that the fire department helped her with the cat in the tree, maybe a neighbor. But, she was going to call Charlie first.

COX:: I hope she didn't decide not to vote for him since he wasn't in town to rescue her cat [laughter].

DONNAHOE: I know! That's right. No, I think she probably was one of those true-blue . . . Lot of fun.

COX:: Well, thank you for coming to Nacogdoches today.

DONNAHOE: It was great.

COX:: We're very grateful to get to have your recollections . . .

DONNAHOE: Well, thank you for the opportunity.

COX:: Absolutely.

End interview