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Oral History Project

Hiram Fong

Leonard H. Ballard, U.S. Capitol Police
August 26, 1983
Interviewed by Senate historian Richard A. Baker

The following is an excerpt from the oral history interview with Leonard H. Ballard recounting a unique memory of Hawaii senator Hiram Fong.

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BALLARD: I was standing outside the [Senate Chamber]. As you come out of the Senate Chamber, that light fixture up there is a pineapple. Senator—oh hell, he was here for many years—before Senator Inouye—

BAKER: [Hiram] Fong?

BALLARD: Fong. He used to go into the Marble Room and read the Hawaii papers every Saturday. Now, he knew that we locked the doors at 12:30. He knew that, you didn’t have to—

BAKER: Which doors?

BALLARD: The [Senate] chamber doors. They locked the chamber doors. He knew that. You didn’t have to worry about him. Well, he came out, and I was standing there, and I was always friendly. And I said, "Well, Senator, our forefathers were pretty farsighted, weren't they? When they built this [wing of the Capitol] in 1857, they knew Hawaii would eventually be a state because they put a pineapple up here." He said, "What?" I said, “Well, there it is! Look at it!”

BAKER: Where is that located?

BALLARD: Just as you come out of the Senate Chamber.

BAKER: Out the south door?

BALLARD: The east door.

BAKER: Oh, the east door. Okay

BALLARD: You know as you come out the back door by the elevators, the senators’ elevator and the public elevator—

BAKER: Right.

BALLARD: All right, it’s just as you come out of that entrance. It's up there. He said, "Are you going to be here for a few minutes?" And I said, “Yes, I’ll be here.” He said, "I'll be right back." He wasn't gone too long and he came back with an aide and he had two pineapples. They had the Republican photographer—

BAKER: Right. That was probably Scotty—Arthur Scott.

BALLARD: It was Scotty. Yeah, that’s who it was, Scotty. He said, "You suppose you could get me a ladder?" I said, “Oh, that’s no problem. ”I called John Price [chief janitor] downstairs and had him come up with a six-foot stepladder. John came up, and the senator got up and held one of those pineapples up by the fixture and Scotty took all kinds of pictures.

BAKER: With the senator in the picture?

BALLARD: Yeah, with the pineapple and the senator, and then he got down and he wanted to take a picture of me with the pineapple and him. Then he said, "You like pineapple?" And I said, "I love pineapple," and I do! He said, "Now, you take this home with you." The aide said, "No, you can't do that senator. I borrowed that, it’s Linda’s. I just borrowed it.” The senator said, "Now, you let me make it right with Linda. The captain gets his pineapple." So, sure enough—And then, a little later on, he sent me a clipping from the Honolulu Bulletin front page with a picture and the story of the picture of the pineapple, and there's the senator up with the pineapple, there on the front page.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.