March 28, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Congressional Memories: Lawmakers Recall Their Standout Gifts

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Sen. Patrick Leahy displays a Hopalong Cassidy box camera he received as a Christmas present in the early 1950s.

First Set of Wheels

My parents gave my sister and I a bicycle built for two, Sen. Claire McCaskill said of the bicycle her parents really couldnt afford. The Missouri Democrat is one of several Members who treasured a set of wheels. My sister and I went everywhere together on it, she said, adding that they would often ride to the library in their little bitty town and fill the bicycles basket with books before riding home.

I think I was pretty excited about my first bicycle, Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) said. I rode it all over the place until we had to start taking the parts off it to fix my brothers bike.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) received her first bicycle at 5 years old, but she couldnt take it for a ride outside. My father was stationed at an [Air Force base] in Ohio, and there was a lot of snow, she said. My parents had to clean everything out down in the basement and pop the training wheels on so I could ride it around down in the basement.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) wouldnt mind finding his favorite gift under the Christmas tree again. Its pretty tough to top the Big Wheel, he said of the iconic childrens tricycle he got when he was 6 years old. They dont make enough Big Wheels these days. If they had a man size, Id buy one. Its still on my list. If I could ride one around the Capitol, I would. He insists the Big Wheel didnt come from his parents. Santa gave it to me what are you talking about? he asked.

A red Radio Flyer wagon stands out for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), but he didnt find it under a tree on Christmas morning. My three sisters went to sleep like they were supposed to do as Santa is coming, but I couldnt, he said. So my father hid it under the house. The next day, his father scolded him for staying awake, saying, Its really tragic that you caused Santa all of this trouble.

Guns A-Blazin'

Guns also ranked high among lawmakers favorite gifts. I remember my Daisy BB gun, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said. That was a fantastic Christmas present when I was a kid. I wore it out. King said he received the BB gun from his parents when he was about 9 years old, and he used it to shoot at backyard wildlife. I shot a lot of sparrows, a few pigeons, he said.

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