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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.

I like to hunt, so getting a shotgun was a huge thing, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said. He called the gift special because he and his father used to hunt together. I was about 12 years old. That was certainly a big one.

I got all of the typical presents, said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), but one Dec. 25 almost seemed like a scene from A Christmas Story. When I was a small boy, I got a popgun, he said, and I broke it the first day. I broke it on Christmas Day.

Christmas Keepsakes

I would borrow my parents camera to take pictures from the time I was about 4 years old, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. They gave me my first camera, and it was a Hopalong Cassidy box camera. The photography enthusiast still has the simple camera decorated with the cowboy character. Ive kept every camera Ive ever had. … I remember that one very well.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) loved horseback riding as a child, so a pair of white leather riding boots was a special gift from her parents when she was 12. I rode well, I tried to ride growing up, she said. I volunteered to work at any stable that would take me.

The one that I remember, that I didnt think I was going to get, was a Bonnie Braids doll, said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), referring to a toy based on a character in the Dick Tracy comic strip.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) remembers getting a recent gift from a friend in Congress. I had a nice Christmas present from Steny Hoyer about seven or eight years ago, he said. It was a clock. ... It was not only timely, but it was beautiful. And it was a surprise. Pascrell said he still keeps the clock in his house.

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