|Carol Simons Huddleston was born in Vancouver British Columbia. She lived in Canada for five years before moving to Berkley California where her mother was from. Her father taught math at Berkley where he also received his Ph.D. They moved to Oregon after five years. Huddleston attended Corvallis OSU where her father taught. She attended one years of college before moving to the East Coast with her sister. Her sister first introduced Huddleston to Charlie Wilson in 1976 and she began working for Wilson in 1977.|
Interviewer's Name: Paul Sandul, Scott Sosebee, and Laura Blackburn
Interview Date and Location: The interview was conducted on March 15, 2012, in the Russell Civic Building in Washington D.C.
Context Notes: Interview and transcription completed in conjunction with the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.
Background conversations and footsteps are present throughout the interview but do not cover up the interview.
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 interviewers M. Scott Sosebee, Paul J. P. Sandul, and Laura Blackburn are identified as SOSEBEE, SANDUL, and BLACKBURN respectively. Carol Simons Huddleston is identified as HUDDLESTON
SANDUL: This is Paul Sandul, assistant professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University and director of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project. With me are Dr. Scott Sosebee, also at SFA, and graduate student Laura Blackburn. We are in the Russell Senate Building in Washington D.C. It is March 15, 2012 and we're interviewing Carol Simons Huddleston.
SANDUL: Okay. Welcome.
HUDDLESTON: Thank you.
SANDUL: I wanted to start off with getting a little bit of your background. Maybe if you could share with us a little bit about yourself and then maybe lead us up to the moment that, well, you first met Charlie.
HUDDLESTON: Okay. Born in Vancouver British Columbia.
HUDDLESTON: And lived in Canada for five years. Moved to Berkeley which is where my mother was from.
HUDDLESTON: And my father was a math professor. Taught at Berkeley, got his Ph.D. at Berkeley. And then we moved to Oregon after five years. Grew up mostly in Oregon.
HUDDLESTON: Corvallis OSU is where my dad taught. Went to one year of college. Came to the East Coast to visit my older sister who was nine years older than I am. And just came for a visit and stayed for nine months. Just took a break after my freshman year. And then I moved back to Oregon to start my sophomore year.
HUDDLESTON: Three months later I moved back to the East Coast. [Laughter]
SOSEBEE: I don't want to go back to Oregon. [Laughter]
HUDDLESTON: Oh no, and everybody has always asked me, "Why did you leave?" [Laughs.] And I wondered that myself. I loved the Pacific Northwest but I did come back here and I stayed. Never finished school. Started working for Charlie. I actually met Charlie through my older sister who worked for him for about a year.
SANDUL: Oh, okay.
HUDDLESTON: Way back when he first started.
SANDUL: And what did she do?
HUDDLESTON: You know, I actually am not sure.
SANDUL: Oh, okay.
HUDDLESTON: It was right when he was starting up his office. I want to say it was probably '75.
HUDDLESTON: I'm going to guess. And I don't know exactly what she did but I know that she hired or he hired a number of people right off the bat. When he came here and I know that Linda Sullivan and she were hired the same day maybe even one or two others. So it was really really new when he was here. She worked for him for about a year and then she went off to finish a master's program that she was working on. And I met him in '70 probably '76/'77. Just briefly. And then I decided I didn't want to work where I was working. I was in retail. And he called up one day and said - which is actually kind of a funny story. I was at work.
HUDDLESTON: He called up and I took the call at work and he said, "Carol, this is Charlie Wilson. Would you like to come in and see me today?" And I said, "Not particularly." [Laughter.] I had no idea who it was or I would not have said that. [Laughter.] I had met him like once and I was very shy. And I just thought it was somebody else who was trying to ask me out and I just said, "Not particularly." Then I realized after he said something that I had just made a big mistake. So I said, "Yes I would." And so I went and interviewed with him and started as his receptionist in July of 1977.
HUDDLESTON: Twenty one years old and I was his receptionist for a year and a half. And then Linda Sullivan who was his executive assistant/secretary. When Charlie decided, basically, if I have this story right, when he decided to separate from Jerry [Wilson's first wife], Jerry and Linda were very close and still are. And she just took her side basically. Always loved Charlie; always was a dear friend of Charlie's right up until the end, but at that point she decided, "You know what I'm going to move to Florida." And she moved. Actually she didn't quite move yet she moved a year later. So I was very surprised when all of, I don't know, 22/23 when he said, "Would you like to be my executive assistant?" So I took her place when she left a year and a half after I started. And I'm thinking that was about January of '79.
HUDDLESTON: And then I was with him for a total of ten years.
SANDUL: Okay. So, you-
HUDDLESTON: I left in '87. July of '87.
SANDUL: Okay, so what was sort of the everyday life like in the office? In other words, and related to Charlie, what was he like as a boss?
HUDDLESTON: Fabulous. Because we were all- and if I get teary-eyed I hope I won't.
SOSEBEE: You won't be the first.
SANDUL: You won't be the first so we completely understand. Well that's okay.
HUDDLESTON: We were all family. So much. We really were. And he would make no bones about that as well. We just were all so close. Whatever he did pretty much he included us and vice-versa. And you know to some extent. But we were all very close and he had an instrumental hand at deciding who was going to work for him, of course, as well as others, but he just had this knack of putting together people that fit well.
SANDUL: So, it was his ability to say, "I'm going to create a good team." But what was he like with say, okay you're the executive assistant. Was he very hands on with you as a boss or just, "I obviously hired you because of who you are and I'll trust what you do"?
HUDDLESTON: Well, we were just all close. We all had our own relationships with him. We all worked with him in the way that was best for whatever we were doing. I did a lot of personal stuff for him as well as office. Which is not really the norm these days but it was then and I would imagine if Charlie were still working and still actively working he'd be the same way. His assistant would do a lot of personal probably. That would be my guess. So I really juggled both personal life and professional. You know, kind of handled when he moved out and bought his condo in the Wesley [Wesley Heights; a wealthy neighborhood in Washington, D.C.]. I worked with them finishing it up and worked with the contractors and, I mean, that's the kind of day I would have sometimes, both in the office and wherever. But everyone was just had a close working relationship with him in their own way. If that's what you mean [laughs].
SANDUL: Well, It's what you mean [laughter]. Well, since you're so in tune with, obviously, his scheduling from '77 through '87, within Congress did he develop, outside of working relationships as well, but did he develop closer friendships with particular members of Congress?
HUDDLESTON: Sure, he had a number of friends that were, whether it be in the Texas Delegation that were real close but others as well. Specifically I remember him being very close to members that were on the same hall as we were. Especially in Longworth, I remember, and then I was in Rayburn for a couple of years before I left but we were in Longworth most of the time of my tenure. He had a good relationship-I just got to say-with most members he dealt with. He knew how to work them, quote unquote, when he needed to get what he needed or to help them with what they needed. He was very fair. He was smart. Very much admired how smart he was. I know we all did, but he was very intelligent. I think most of his intelligence came from reading and just living. I know he used to talk about reading a lot when he was in the Navy. But his relationship with his members on the appropriations committee and maybe somewhat on the D.C. subcommittee that he was chairman of but primarily foreign ops and then he left foreign affairs pretty much when I became his assistant and he was in appropriations most of the time from that period on.
SOSEBEE: You said that the way he worked members, I mean we all know every congressmen has his style in how they work people and how they persuade and what they do. What was his style? How did he do it?
HUDDLESTON: Well, if he needed something for his district, for example, and it wasn't going to hurt him to give up this; a vote or budget somehow. That's how he would do it. He would help his district while at the same time helping somebody else.
SOSEBEE: Did he make it a point to, then, you know, know what everybody else needed? And he, I mean, kept a mental picture, "I know I can go to him-"
HUDDLESTON: Pretty much. He did very well at that. You know, I wasn't with him on the floor all the time, but he did very well at that. He knew what people needed. He knew what he needed in his district. He knew what he could give up, what he couldn't give up. But I think a very-not partisan, for the most part. Not like today at all. Not partisan but just worked well with both sides, to tell you the truth, when he needed to.
SOSEBEE: Constituent service was one of his big things, obviously, that he was very committed to. Give us a typical sense of, since you worked so close with him, of let's say how Charlie would approach - I'm a constituent and I call in and this is my problem. So how does that whole process - how would he go through that process?
HUDDLESTON: Either if they had a problem or let's just say they were in town he was open arms to them. But for the problem cases that were from his district he was all over it. He'd get on the phone. He'd call whoever he needed to call whether it was here whether it was down there whether it was in Austin. And he worked on the phone a lot. That's what he did a lot. I'm sure he worked in the other offices and behind closed doors, which I wasn't a party to an awful lot of the time away from his office. With his office yes; but not on the floor or something, or in committee. But he worked the phones. He called whoever he needed to call to get what that person needed or at least to lay the groundwork. And he was always very quick to take a call from constituents, quick to give them an update.
SOSEBEE: This is asking you to make a judgment. Not a judgment, an idea to give to us and kind of give us head. Some congressmen do that because, "this is how I get re-elected." But I always get the sense that it was more than that to him. Can you kind of give us insight to that?
HUDDLESTON: East Texas was home to him and I think it always, always, always was. Even though eventually he sold his house there when he left Congress but East Texas and the people of East Texas he loved dearly. And even though he loved Washington and loved the style of traveling the world. His roots were still there and you knew it right up until the end.
SOSEBEE: Of course and he ended up-you know when he moved back there.
HUDDLESTON: He did, he did. At the very end, yeah, yeah.
SOSEBEE: Which was probably not a popular decision in his [laughs] home at the time.
HUDDLESTON: Well, I don't know that it was but Barbara did pretty well, I think. I think there were five years before. Yeah. But she really was a big city girl and it was tough for her.
SOSEBEE: That had to be [Sosebee and Sandul laugh].
HUDDLESTON: Yeah, yeah. And she felt like she was in a fishbowl a little bit as well, I know, so. She had good friends. Still does. I know she still does.
SANDUL: Now Charlie, of course, is very well known for hiring the "Charlie's Angels;"* hiring beautiful, smart women to work in the office. Can you tell me a little bit about, however, the origin, the genesis sort of, of taking the name "Charlie's Angels?" I mean, obviously I have pictures of Kate Jackson and Farah Fawcett running around [
HUDDLESTON: laughs]. [* "Charlie's Angels" refers to the popular television show and term appropriated by his female staffers who were touted for their physical attractiveness.]
SANDUL: And I'm aware that he should but where did that sort of begin to come about?
HUDDLESTON: Wow, I'm not sure where it all started. Was it before I came? You know, a couple of years before? I don't know. More than likely, I'd have to guess, it came from other people on the Hill. You know? Maybe other members' offices. Who knows, but it kind of stuck and we didn't really shy away from it that much. [Laughter.] Especially today.
SANDUL: Yeah, yeah, that's what I was saying. It seems that you've appropriated it as a very kinder and enduring and happy - something to bring you all together. And you've very much stayed alive yourselves as a group. And to that moniker.
HUDDLESTON: We've actually started thinking about doing a Facebook page that's private for all of us [laughter].
SOSEBEE: That would be interesting.
HUDDLESTON: Which is a good way to keep in touch really.
SANDUL: It is. It is.
HUDDLESTON: Some people don't believe in it, but I mean if it's private-and we all do keep in touch but that's kind of a nice way, too, if you're already going to be on it as some of us do.
HUDDLESTON: But, who knows.
SANDUL: Now the other thing in talking with Charles Simpson [Wilson's first Administrative Assistant] a little bit, he did mention that-and this, however comfortable you are discussing it, that you were the only other person in the office to testify in the grand jury when he went; thought the . . .
SANDUL: . . . the Justice Department investigation . . .
HUDDLESTON: Yes. I was subpoenaed.
SANDUL: . . . and then the ethics. So here you are as his executive assistant in charge of much of his schedule. Could you walk us a little bit of what it was like in the office at that time? I mean it must have been very tense.
HUDDLESTON: Oh it was very tense. Very tense. Tough for Charlie. Tough, tough time for a couple of years at least, I'd say. Always on the phone to his attorney [laughs]. It was a tense time. It was very draining on him, I know. Tough for everyone else but he very much depended on all of us to sort of give him support, which we would do anyway but, I know he did. I know he did. I can remember a few times when a number of people if not most of us all got together and we were either at his place and had dinner or went out to dinner or went to the Democratic Club for dinner or lunches. But it was a very tough time. Yeah.
SANDUL: Now you were called, was it because you did, as you said, describing your job, you had not just so much involved with his professional life but overseeing a lot of his privacy-private life. Is this why you were called then to address the grand [jury]? What was that like for you?
HUDDLESTON: The grand jury was scary but [laughter] I was pretty young, but, you know, I just took it in stride as something I had to do. I was called to do. So upon Charlie's advice I got an attorney and he was very helpful because I had never been in a situation like that. And as I said I'm pretty shy. I was a lot more shy then. So I didn't know what to expect. One of his girlfriends was subpoenaed as well.
HUDDLESTON: And we were both there the same day.
HUDDLESTON: And the reason was because the three of us went on a trip together.
HUDDLESTON: And that's the reason.
HUDDLESTON: He had invited me to go along with his girlfriend on a trip.
SANDUL: Okay, and so they were then gunning for you to give information about [unintelligible] . . .
HUDDLESTON: Yeah. Or if I knew anything to the contrary, would I-
SANDUL: Okay, okay. Well, I have to ask, you know, "Good Time Charlie" image. How much of that was real and how much of that may have been the media "Good Time Charlie?" The famous report in the magazine. ["Good Time Charlie" first appeared in a Washington Post editorial by Kathleen McLean in 1978.]
HUDDLESTON: He liked to have a good time. He liked to include friends, liked to include his office. So he was "Good Time Charlie" to people that knew him. I always felt like a lot of people didn't really know how brilliant he was, how smart he was, how successful he was at getting done what he needed to get done. Whether it was in committee or whether it was for a constituent like you say. Because he was just very good at his job. But he liked to have a good time. He did. I think definitely the media built it up. Probably more than it really needed to be but-
SOSEBEE: He didn't run away from that image though.
HUDDLESTON: He didn't.
SOSEBEE: Do you think that was intentional?
HUDDLESTON: That he-
SOSEBEE: To embrace it and not run away from it. Do you think he did that on purpose? To an affect?
HUDDLESTON: Probably, yeah, that would be Charlie a little bit. He wouldn't have minded that image.
SOSEBEE: Someone suggested that he embraced that image because it caused people to underestimate him. And that helped him get things done.
HUDDLESTON: Get things done.
SOSEBEE: What do you think about that?
HUDDLESTON: I think that's very true. I think that's very true.
SOSEBEE: Don't you see any personal examples of maybe something that you can relate a story or something of someone where they, you know, legislation or something important to get done that were-Charlie got it done because someone had underestimated didn't realize what Charlie's power was.
HUDDLESTON: Well, as I said, I felt like a lot of people did underestimate him. Good word. Didn't really realize how smart he was at doing what he needed to do. I hate to say working the system or working Congress but doing what he needed to do. Which is what they do up here, you know, you work on projects that are dear to your heart. You work on projects for your district. But you also know when you need to give and take. You just know when you need to. And he was good at that. And lots of times I think people felt like he wasn't as serious as he was. So, I think a lot of members thought he was not serious.
SOSEBEE: Was he a-
HUDDLESTON: That didn't know him.
SOSEBEE: That didn't, yeah.
HUDDLESTON: That didn't know him.
SOSEBEE: For those who did know and those on the inside and from what he got done, do you think he was a powerful congressman?
HUDDLESTON: I do, yeah, I do. He had a lot of successes. Yep.
SOSEBEE: Give us an example. Give us something that maybe somebody doesn't know that Charlie maybe did. One of these things they don't realize Charlie did.
HUDDLESTON: Well, I don't know if I could come up with something, you know, right off the cuff, but a perfect example is "Charlie Wilson's War." I mean nobody knew that was all going on. They knew to some extent that he was helping the Afghans. They knew to some extent that with foreign affairs and with appropriations defense he was helping defense contractors. But, they had no clue what he was doing.
SOSEBEE: Did you have a clue?
SANDUL: Yeah, as his executive assistant did you-
HUDDLESTON: I knew to some extent, but not to the extent - I learned a lot from the book.
SANDUL: Did you? Okay.
SANDUL: Do you know more about the humanitarian aid and not necessarily the military side of this?
HUDDLESTON: I knew enough about the military side of it but not to the extent that his liaison with defense did, Agnes MONDEE or- I'm drawing a blank. Who was- Noel Holmes was before Agnes. I knew quite a bit but not to the extent that I learned from the book, from the movie subsequently. But that's a perfect example, I think. It's a blatant one.
SOSEBEE: Yeah, and you're exactly right. Yeah but you're exactly right. Some people have suggested that only Charlie could have pulled that off. He's the only person who could have done it. Crile actually suggests that to a large extent.
HUDDLESTON: Maybe so. It's just the way he worked. He very quiet about things. You know not blatant. Not quiet in his day to day, you know, Charlie Wilson you can't say was quiet. But in what he needed to do he was close-lipped. He kept a lot certainly to himself. I don't know who else he shared a lot of what was going on with. As far as staff are concerned I'm sure that his AA and his defense liaison. But he, in working with the CIA and working with the state department and working with Congress, he just knew how to weave them all. And fairly unobtrusively really.
SOSEBEE: Say he was-you could never describe Charlie Wilson as quiet but if a lot of other congressman had done some of the things that he had done the press office would have done nothing but issue glowing press reports all the time. He didn't seem to see the need to do that.
SOSEBEE: Why do you think?
HUDDLESTON: He didn't toot his own horn at all. He just didn't. I think he was very confident in what he was doing and not something he thought about. But it just was the kind of person he was. He knew what he needed to do. He knew what was right. He knew what was wrong. He had his beliefs and what needed to be done in that situation as well as others. But, he certainly in that situation didn't want to go to the press about what he was doing. Didn't want to toot his own horn about what he was doing.
SOSEBEE: Sure. You said he had his beliefs. If somebody was to come up and ask you and said, "Okay Carol, you tell me, what are Charlie Wilson's core, bedrock beliefs? What are the things that he won't sacrifice?" What would you call those?
HUDDLESTON: Taking care of the folks at home is a big one. He really did. He really did. The mom and pop store owners or the senior citizens who were at the end of their paycheck or were about to lose a benefit. He was real good about handling that right away. Getting done what needed to be done. Internationally, I think everybody knows he's fairly conservative democrat but fought for things he believed in.
SOSEBEE: Where do you think that came from?
HUDDLESTON: I'm sure a lot of the people around him when he was in Austin probably and even before that in the Navy. The military academy. His parents for sure. His mom was real strong.
SOSEBEE: You met his parents?
HUDDLESTON: Oh yeah both of them.
SOSEBEE: What was your impression? Tell us about them.
HUDDLESTON: Oh his mom would bend his ear all the time and he'd be on the phone for quiet awhile [laughter]. She was a very sweet lady. His dad was sweet, sweet, sweet. Quiet. And I didn't know his dad for too long before he passed away.
HUDDLESTON: His mom was just real strong. Strong woman. Very involved in everything. Wanted to be involved in everything he was doing, I'm sure, from the time he was young. And very proud of him. And Sharon had a wonderful relationship with him and talked to him all the time on the phone.
SOSEBEE: Do you think they were sort of the biggest influences of all on things that he did? I mean-
HUDDLESTON: Oh things that he did? Maybe. Definitely his parents. Sharon certainly with regard to what she fought for, Planned Parenthood. And they both respected each other immensely.
SANDUL: Well, if you could expound a little bit more when you said, "conservative Democrat," I know Laura here is doing a thesis on Charlie's political ideology and I know she would like to follow up even more on that.
BLACKBURN: Yeah, I was going to ask about the Conservative-to get [your] impressions about his political philosophy?
HUDDLESTON: Well, I never felt like he was very partisan. That's a big thing. Especially when it's so much in the news today. He would not have liked being up here today. I don't think at all. I know others who have said the same thing. I'm sure plenty of other members that are good friends of his or were good friends of his would say the same thing. It's just a different animal. He worked well with both sides and I was always surprised about that or not always surprised about that but maybe later on, you know, just realized what a knack that was and how important that was. And even after I left, and after he left and he was in the private sector, just what a knack to have been able to work with both sides. But he was very patriotic. Very patriotic. Probably one of the first things that I learned about him. Getting to know him. And that was always just real important to him. The country and doing for the country what he felt was right and having served in the Navy and doing whatever he could for the military services. Does that help? [Laughter.] You probably know a little bit more than I do about all the finesses of his political beliefs [laughs].
SANDUL: Did Charlie ever share aspirations to serve in a different office than the one he occupied?
HUDDLESTON: There was a period when people tried to get him to run for Senate.
HUDDLESTON: I'm trying to remember if right off the bat he, you know, did not want to do that. But I do know that a number of people tried to get him to.
HUDDLESTON: But it wasn't something he wanted to do ultimately.
SANDUL: Did he ever share why or do have suspicions to why?
HUDDLESTON: Not really. Not really. It might have been the period of what was going on at the time and I'm just not remembering what was overlapping.
HUDDLESTON: But I don't know why.
HUDDLESTON: I don't know why.
SANDUL: Okay. Now, ten years in the office with him and then all those years as friends, I know I'm asking a very difficult question with this one, but do you have sort of a favorite memory that just involves you and Charlie, no matter how marginal, that you're willing to share with us?
HUDDLESTON: Well, I grew up in his office, clearly, I was twenty one, I was darn shy, I came from the Pacific Northwest. He was like a father to me, a second father to me even though I was very close to my own father. He knew my whole family and, you know, just from meeting and really he knew everybody in the office's family to some extent when they'd come and visit. I felt no different than anyone else like he was really just very much a mentor to me. A specific story. [laughter] You put me on the spot. I feel like Charlie knew me very well and we all knew him pretty well. But he knew his staff pretty well. He knew when not to push too hard on something or when to step back on helping me with something. But he was always willing to lend a hand to any of his staff members wherever they needed it. I'm drawing a blank.
SOSEBEE: That's okay. There's probably so many . . . [Laughter.]
HUDDLESTON: There are, there are.
SOSEBEE: . . . descriptions. Maybe this will spur something. If somebody were to say, "Okay, give me, in one word, adjectives or descriptive terms to describe Charlie." If somebody says, you know, they didn't know him. How would you do that? What would you use?
HUDDLESTON: Thoughtful. Kind. Big-hearted. I'm sure you've heard it, but would give his right arm. I've always said it. I think everybody's always said it about him. For a good friend, give his right arm.
SOSEBEE: Share with us something that you know where, you know, that Charlie did something for someone where he knew he wasn't going to get anything back and there was going to be no benefit for him.
HUDDLESTON: Well at the very end when I was leaving, which he didn't know. I just came to a point ten years later that I had just felt like I needed to grow in a different direction a little more. So I started looking, you know, on my own time and he didn't know as far as I am aware. And a good two years later is when I really left. And he showed me a letter that he had given, actually, Charlie Schnabel showed it to me that he had given to Schnabel when he learned that I was leaving and, it's a letter that I realize I probably should have brought but, it's just a short little note that's very personal about me to Schnabel and he said, "I want Carroll to go to Pakistan before she leaves." Because I had worked for so many years with all the players that were going on and it was '87. It was kind of, you know, the culmination of everything he had been working towards in that regard. And he did that for some of his staff. He'd have a staff member go with him whether it was from the committee or from the office and he said, "I want Carroll to go next time." I never did make that trip because I left but he knew I was leaving.
SOSEBEE: When did you leave?
HUDDLESTON: For the next three years was in the private sector in four different positions. After ten years with somebody [laughter]. But, actually, the reasons they all changed were they were either downsizing. I worked for a defense company. I worked for Allied Signal Aerospace. That's who I left Charlie for. To work for the CEO of Allied Signal and he came from Texas to take over Allied Signal which was based in Roslyn because they needed to do cutbacks. Now I didn't know that. I did not know that. But I was on board for a year and a half and got a nice little settlement [laughter]. And it was just a good stepping stone because I knew some of the players from the defense industry and I knew who I was going to work for. He was from Dallas. And he was a good friend of Charlie's but Charlie didn't know until I ultimately signed that deal. After that I went to work for a subsidiary of the Coastal Corporation and that lasted six months because they shut their doors. It was synthetic fuels and they shut their doors after six months. And then I worked for a builder downtown.
SOSEBEE: Did you ever go back into a government?
HUDDLESTON: No, did not.
SOSEBEE: You had enough of it [laughs]?
HUDDLESTON: Well, you know what, I wasn't a political animal. I happened into the position with Charlie and I'm glad I did. Learned a lot. Wouldn't give it up for the world. Kind of sorry I left him when I left him in some regards. I've thought that, you know, twenty years later but because we were all so close and we remained close and still did things it would have been nice to see him through the next ten years until he retired.
SOSEBEE: Get the idea, talking to all of you, [you all] would have worked there forever if they hadn't left of their own volition [laughter] [unintelligible].
HUDDLESTON: You know a lot of people stayed long and you talk to other offices and it just wasn't that way for the most part. It wasn't and they didn't stay in touch for the most part like we have.
SOSEBEE: Well you must have, when you worked for him, you must have talked to other people who worked for other congressman. We're they always jealous that you had such a great office?
HUDDLESTON: Probably, probably. He was great.
SOSEBEE: Did they tell you, did they-
HUDDLESTON: But I can't say that other members weren't great bosses as well.
SOSEBEE: Well sure.
HUDDLESTON: But we had a good office and we had a good staff, we had a good staff. And I think other people did know that for sure. He hired good people. He did. Not only to get along but to do whatever it is they ended up doing for him and were hired for. They did a great job. I think everybody can say the same thing.
SOSEBEE: That's right.
SANDUL: Is there something we haven't asked you and you were thinking maybe as you came in, "They need to know this."
HUDDLESTON: Say it again.
SANDUL: Is there something we haven't asked you and you just really think we should know?
HUDDLESTON: Well before coming I felt it was important to say I grew up in his office. He taught me a lot. Taught me a lot to mature. The office taught me a lot about working together with people. It wasn't just a, you know, it wasn't just a professional for really any of us. It was family and so that was very important for me to convey is that he did a good job of putting together a team that just worked well and worked well at what they did. And he knew it, you know, he knew it. I think he had a sense. I'm sure a lot of people that do hiring that our bosses do but he just was very good.
SOSEBEE: That may be an innate skill.
SOSEBEE: I've hired people and I've been in a position where I've had to hire and that's the hardest thing . . .
SOSEBEE: . . . is saying, "How can you get people that will work well together?"
HUDDLESTON: And to manage them. And to manage them. That's a tough thing. I've managed a handful of people as well in the past. Now I work by myself, out of my home, love it, twenty years so [laughter].
SOSEBEE: You know that's one thing I think about. You talk about around the office stuff and you almost think to yourself, "How much money would he have made in the private sector?" He'd have probably been a multi-millionaire.
HUDDLESTON: Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, yes. Absolutely. Absolutely.
SOSEBEE: And he chose to stay obviously out of a sense of service.
HUDDLESTON: Absolutely. In fact that was mentioned many a time. And I'm sure plenty of people made him offers as well. And he was loyal, loyal, loyal. If he said something to someone he stuck by it. And a good example there is when he left Congress and promised Candy and Lindsey that he was going to go with their firm. And then I don't know who else offered other than I do know that the Coastal Corporation wanted him to work for them. They're good friends.
SOSEBEE: Because Charles Simpson's son was affiliated with them. Coastal-
HUDDLESTON: Yes, yes. Kyle worked for Coastal, yup. And Oscar [Wyatt] was a good friend of Charlie's. He was very close to Oscar.
SOSEBEE: Which is always, to me, kind of a strange relationship in a lot of ways.
HUDDLESTON: Very different.
SOSEBEE: Because they are very different.
HUDDLESTON: They are very different and Charlie's very different than some of his other friends. That's true. You're right about that but they were very close. Zvi Rafiah's relationship with Charlie was wonderful. You know, it was very much professional but yet they just so respected and admired each other and loved each other.
SOSEBEE: Which I didn't think would-
SANDUL: [Unintelligible-reference to having just interviewed Rafiah]. Unfortunately it wasn't face to face, but it was over the phone.
HUDDLESTON: Yeah that's good. Good.
SANDUL: It worked very well.
HUDDLESTON: That's good.
SANDUL: Very nice man.
HUDDLESTON: He's very nice.
SOSEBEE: Talk about a small world. Who would have thought somebody from Trinity, Texas [unintelligible] become great friends?
HUDDLESTON: Would become great friends.
SANDUL: He had stories as much about these international dynamics we're talking about and then stories about, you know, Charlie interacting with his own son, you know. Within the same breath almost.
HUDDLESTON: Another story that's very personal to Charlie and I is the reason that I went on the trip with he and his friend and then later had to go to testify is that I was going through a tough time personally and he invited me to go along at the last minute. And that's kind of how he was. It's not something that he did hardly at all but I went along with him on this trip and it was really just to, you know, I did plenty to help him and I worked all of his trips but it was really just to-
SOSEBEE: To get to go on one.
SOSEBEE: To get to go on one was nice.
HUDDLESTON: Yeah, yeah.
SOSEBEE: I think that's the compassion. I mean I marvel sometimes at the things he did for people and then we start thinking about it. We're talking about multi-millionaire; Charlie wasn't wealthy-
SOSEBEE: You know, but that didn't seem to matter.
HUDDLESTON: Uh-uh. And this was a vacation, it wasn't a working trip, it was a vacation. So, you know, that was a very nice thing to do.
SOSEBEE: Where'd you all go?
HUDDLESTON: We went to the Cayman Islands.
HUDDLESTON: That's the first time I'd ever been in the-
SOSEBEE: And that was what in the 80s?
HUDDLESTON: That was in the 80s. The first time I'd ever been in the Caribbean.
SOSEBEE: It was almost, the Caymans were almost unspoiled then.
HUDDLESTON: Unspoiled. Learned to scuba dive then. Now, love it. Yeah, it was very nice.
SOSEBEE: That was a nice trip.
HUDDLESTON: It was very nice.
SANDUL: Well, we do have Barbara Blaine following us here.
SOSEBEE: She's going to be here shortly.
HUDDLESTON: Glad she got in touch [unintelligible]. I called her and back to tell her about it.
SOSEBEE: I'd like to sit down and talk to Larry King; I could talk to him for a long time.
SANDUL: Yeah, Texas history.
SOSEBEE: Maybe he could take me out and have a drink with him. That would be fun.
HUDDLESTON: He and Charlie were so close. So close.
SOSEBEE: So maybe she could.
HUDDLESTON: She'll have great stories.
SOSEBEE: Maybe we'll get to talk to Larry at some point.
SANDUL: I see you have some pictures here.
HUDDLESTON: I just have a few.
SANDUL: Is this picture where you two are in the cowboy hats right there.
HUDDLESTON: This is actually one of his fundraisers. Every two years he'd have one big Washington fundraiser and so pretty much they were Texas-themed. So that was one of them.
SANDUL: And so this is Charlie and is this-
HUDDLESTON: That's me. And they're not good photos. My second profession is as a fine art photographer but don't-
SANDUL: Would you mind if we took some scans of these?
HUDDLESTON: No, not at all.
HUDDLESTON: Not at all. So that's actually the same fundraiser.
SANDUL: Okay. And who is this gentleman [same picture as above, but not cropped to exclude the young man on the right].
HUDDLESTON: That actually is the son of Larry Murphy who was Charlie's chief legislative assistant.
HUDDLESTON: And that's one of his sons. He had two sons.
HUDDLESTON: And was invited.
SANDUL: Okay. Okay.
HUDDLESTON: Larry passed away a couple of years ago and lived down in Florida but he was with Charlie from the time, he was from Texas. He was from Lufkin.
HUDDLESTON: And he was with Charlie, boy, right up almost until the time he left if not until he retire.
HUDDLESTON: A long time.
HUDDLESTON: Can't quiet remember when Larry left.
HUDDLESTON: But this is their wedding.
SANDUL: Oh, this photo of he and Barbara at their wedding.
HUDDLESTON: Yeah, at their wedding.
HUDDLESTON: Which was real small.
SANDUL: Yeah. About how many people?
HUDDLESTON: Oh, there were about probably twenty-five.
SANDUL: Okay that is very little [laughs].
HUDDLESTON: Twenty or twenty-five.
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
HUDDLESTON: It was a weekend out in Virginia at an inn.
HUDDLESTON: Maybe even not that quiet that many for the whole weekend but about twenty-five people probably for the wedding itself. Pretty small.
SANDUL: Oh wow. Yeah.
HUDDLESTON: That was his fiftieth or sixtieth.
SANDUL: Oh my goodness!
HUDDLESTON: I'm sorry that was a fundraiser.
SANDUL: So everyone dressed like gangsters here.
HUDDLESTON: It was twenties. Roaring Twenties.
SANDUL: Roaring Twenties.
HUDDLESTON: And it was at a club downtown. It was a fundraiser. And this was his sixtieth birthday party at the Kennedy Center.
SANDUL: In the white tux there and who is-
HUDDLESTON: That's me.
SANDUL: That is?
HUDDLESTON: We metamorphose [
HUDDLESTON: and Sandul laugh] over the years.
SANDUL: And, I'm sorry what-
HUDDLESTON: The event?
SANDUL: The event.
HUDDLESTON: It was his sixtieth birthday party.
SANDUL: Sixtieth birthday party, okay.
HUDDLESTON: And it was at the Kennedy Center.
SANDUL: Oh, geez. Now, I don't know if you're able to do it but could you identify who's in this photo?
SANDUL: Maybe going left to right.
HUDDLESTON: Yep, Larry Murphy was his chief legislative assistant
HUDDLESTON: For years.
HUDDLESTON: Formerly in the Navy, in Vietnam on a destroyer. With him for years, was from the district.
HUDDLESTON: Peggy Phillips [Love] you've met.
SANDUL: Yeah, yeah, yes.
HUDDLESTON: Elaine [Cornett].
SANDUL: Oh, okay.
HUDDLESTON: Amy Grainbow.
SANDUL: Okay, yes I know the name.
HUDDLESTON: If you've trace, then was with him forever.
HUDDLESTON: Before I got there. I don't remember when she started '75 or '76 and was there until the end when he left Congress. And then even afterwards probably a little bit [laughs]. Charlie Schnabel [in center with gun].
HUDDLESTON: And Laura, I'm not sure I'm going to pronounce her name, [pronounced the first time as] Silgay?
SANDUL: I know the name.
SANDUL: Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, S-I-L-G-A-Y.
SANDUL: Yeah, yeah.
HUDDLESTON: Okay. I know Laura but didn't work with her.
HUDDLESTON: So she came after I left. I'm sorry. That's Elaine right there.
SANDUL: That's Elaine.
HUDDLESTON: That's Elaine.
SANDUL: Okay then this would be.
HUDDLESTON: That is Amy.
SANDUL: So the third person, so Larry, Peggy and then?
HUDDLESTON: Amy Owen.
SANDUL: Amy Owen. Okay.
HUDDLESTON: I'm trying to think of what her married name is now. She may still go by Owen but if I need to e-mail you that.
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
HUDDLESTON: And I see it's different. So Amy Owen, Charlie of course.
SANDUL: So above Charles Schnabel then that is?
HUDDLESTON: That's Laura and then Elaine.
SANDUL: Laura and then Elaine next to her. We know that guy [referencing to Charlie Wilson].
HUDDLESTON: Know that guy [laughter]. Diana.
SANDUL: Which is?
HUDDLESTON: Right here.
SANDUL: Okay So after Charlie we're not sure about these two.
HUDDLESTON: That's me.
SANDUL: Oh, there's you. And do we know?
HUDDLESTON: And I'm drawing a blank on her name.
SANDUL: The one right next to Charlie okay.
HUDDLESTON: Right between Charlie and I.
HUDDLESTON: I'm drawing a blank. I'm sorry.
SANDUL: Oh, no problem, no problem.
HUDDLESTON: And Diana.
SANDUL: Diana okay.
HUDDLESTON: Do you know Diana?
SANDUL: We have contact but we have-
SANDUL: We are going to do an interview. She's going to make herself available. Apparently she goes back to Texas quiet often.
HUDDLESTON: She does.
SANDUL: And so we can arrange something there.
HUDDLESTON: She did his defense work.
HUDDLESTON: And then Janet Ginsburg who was his receptionist for a number of years.
SANDUL: Okay, okay. Now what about this picture? [Laughs].
SANDUL: Have you?
HUDDLESTON: It is fake. It is fake.
SANDUL: I've seen something like this before, yeah
HUDDLESTON: And I think he's, yeah he's got an Uzi as well.
SANDUL: Yeah, he's…
SOSEBEE: I think, is that the one Peggy [Love] had?
HUDDLESTON: Probably is.
SANDUL: I think so.
SOSEBEE: Let me see it.
SANDUL: Here, I'm going to have her scan these.
HUDDLESTON: Probably is. He did throw some good parties [unintelligible].
SANDUL: And I'm going to turn this off here.