Office Space: Stocking Up on the Past

Sen. Enzi’s Office Boasts Some Very Old Relics

Posted July 8, 2008 at 5:24pm

Most every Senator displays relics from the past. Sen. Mike Enzi displays relics from 60 million years ago — three prehistoric fossils hanging on the walls of his office. [IMGCAP(1)]

“If they have a white stone background and the brown bones, they’re from Wyoming. If they have the dark brown stone and the dark brown bones, which doesn’t show up very well, they’re from China,” the Senator jokes.

Several fossils from the Republican Senator’s home state of Wyoming hang on the walls of his Russell Senate Office Building office in tribute to the Equality State’s history.

In fact, Enzi, 64, found one while fishing in a Wyoming quarry. While looking for bugs to use as bait, Enzi came across a stone with an impression of a feather in it. Enzi donated the rare fossil — only two of its kind have ever been found, he says — to the University of Wyoming, which then loaned it back to the Senator to hang on his wall.

While Enzi’s office is rich with Wyoming history, there is one piece that is unique to the Capitol. A tall coat rack, peppered with artifacts from his home state, sits to the right of the Senator’s desk. Enzi says it was one of four that were made specifically for each of the entrances to the Russell Building when it opened in 1908. Senators used to hang their coats and umbrellas on the rack before going about their daily business.

“When I was picking my furniture for my first office and I saw this with the clerk down there in the storeroom, I said, ‘I’d like to have one of those.’ He said, ‘You and 99 other Senators.’”

As luck would have it, the clerk misplaced the Senator’s couch. “My office manager, who had been here for 30 years, said: ‘You can make it up to the Senator. You can get him one of those umbrella stands.’ And they did! Then they found my couch and she wouldn’t let them have the stand back.”

Enzi’s office also shows the important role that his family has played in his life.

By the door, there is a fishing rod that his grandfather gave to his grandmother as an anniversary gift. Hanging on the coat rack is a papoose, a leather carrier made to hold an infant, that was given to the Enzis by a friend. Photos bedeck the Wyoming Senator’s desk and a few mementos of his grandfather sit on a table.

“These are spurs my grandpa wore and a rope that he had,” Enzi says, touching the rope. “He was a rancher, and most especially, he was my grandpa. He taught me to fish and hunt and all the good things.”

Fishing appears to be a favorite Enzi family pastime. The Senator, who is expected to win his third term easily in November, prefers fly-fishing, but these days with his busy schedule he takes whatever kind of fishing he can get.

“I take a little travel rod with me in my suitcase and sometimes I get about an hour right beside the road.

“No self-respecting Wyomingite would fish right beside the road, but it’s all the time I’ve got. I’ll catch six or eight fish in an hour and then somebody recognizes me and has just a little problem they want me to solve,” he says with a chuckle.

If there’s one thing that’s clear from a visit, the man loves his family and his home state of Wyoming.

“My office is a part of Wyoming here in D.C., so it needs to look and feel the part,” he says. “I want my constituents to feel welcome and at home, and guests who aren’t familiar with Wyoming to be able to get a feel for the state just by visiting.”

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