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J. Franklin Little: Senate Page (1910-1912)

“I was the chief filler-upper of snuff boxes.”

Little, interviewed by Senate Historian Donald Ritchie, recalls his page duty of filling the snuff boxes in the Senate Chamber, and reflects on other objects in the Chamber.

Ritchie: Did you have to keep the snuff boxes filled up?

Little: I was chief filler-upper of snuff boxes.

Ritchie: Did anybody use them?

Little: Darn tootin, a lot of them.

Ritchie: They did!

Little: They'd bring visitors and give them a little bit, tell the ladies to put it on the back of their hand and sniff. That's what made us work to keep those snuff boxes filled.

Ritchie: Because of the visitors. Did the senators use them?

Little: I don't remember. I think one or two of them used them, or used them in fun anyhow. Used them and sneezed. I know one time they were missing, and they had us all lined up and we searched all over the place, in the senators' desks. They found them somewhere.

Ritchie: Were the senators carving their names in the desk drawers in those days?

Little: I've heard they have. Now, with those augers, I nearly got fired. Putting that auger through those papers with a table as a solid back, I scratched one of the desks one day. They gave me the devil, I thought I was going to get fired. But I didn't. After that I made sure that I put it down on the floor. They cut out the liquor. They used to have two decanters of whiskey on each side in a recess. But the Temperance people made them stop.

Ritchie: You kept them full all the time?

Little: We didn't, the custodian did.

Ritchie: Where were these recesses?

Little: If I remember correctly, in a recess right around behind where the chief page of the sergeant-at-arms sits.

Ritchie: They had decanters of whiskey in the chamber?

Little: In the chamber; on the Democratic side and the Republican side.

Ritchie: And senators would just pour themselves a drink in the chamber?

Little: If they wanted to, yes.

Ritchie: There were glasses out there as well?

Little: I never saw one do it, I won't say I have because I didn't.


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