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Some Unusual Events and Personalities in my Life





by William Howard Taft McGaughey, Jr.

1. My father dedicated his wartime novel, “Roll out the Tanks”, to me when it was published. (1942)

2. As a boy, I owned and raised a pet raccoon which my aunt had picked up abandoned on the highway. (1950)

3. I handed pen and pad of paper to presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower as he sat in a convertible after a campaign event in Detroit but the car pulled away before Eisenhower could write anything. I later received an autographed photograph of the future president courtesy of a Detroit city official. (1952)

4. Jamie Dodge, grandson of Detroit banker Joseph M. Dodge, lived with my family for several months when Dodge Sr. went toWashington to become budget director in the Eisenhower administration. (1953)

4. Walt Disney, while negotiating the Disneyland television show, gave my father an original celluloid from a Mickey Mouse film which he personally inscribed to me. (1955)

5. George Romney, then head of an automobile company and later governor of Michigan, took me and his son, Scott, to a Detroit Tigers baseball game after we had completed night courses in welding and house-wiring at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. (1956)

6. I knew “Smokey Joe” Wood, pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and hero of the 1912 World Series, when he later lived in rural Pennsylvania. (1950s and 1960s)

7. I was once employed by the Wall Street Journal for the summer as a copy boy at its offices on Broad Street in New York City. (1960)

8. I was a guest at Ann Ford’s debutante party in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. (1961)

9. I accompanied my father as he arranged to buy the iconic Times Square building after it was vacated by the New York Times but the deal later fell through. (1961)

10. I lived by myself in West Germany for a year in 1961-62, barely speaking German when I arrived. (1961-62)

11. I climbed a mountain in Austria on my 21st birthday in the dead of winter. (1962)

12. I was arrested at the check point in east Berlin at the height of the Cold War, but was released and, a week later, met again with a security official over coffee. (1962)

13. After I returned to Yale, I took a course in literature from a man who later became the first U.S. poet laureate. (1963)

14. Having never been to Minnesota before, I moved to that state where I have since lived for more than fifty years. (1965)

15. I quit a secure job with the State of Minnesota to become a full-time writer but found I could not write anything of length coherently so I had to retrain for an accounting career. (1966)

16. With the blessing of the campaign manager, I unsuccessfully tried to organize a marathon on behalf of the Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota who later won the election. (1966)

17. I passed the CPA examination on the first try after cramming for this test. (1971)

18. Gerald Ford, then a Congressman, sent me a copy of a speech that he had given at the National Association of Manufacturers, describing how someone could become President of the United States without winning a national election - something that Ford himself later did. (ca. 1972)

19. I received a letter from Ronald Reagan, while he was governor of California, promising to play a board game that I had invented based on a presidential election. My father’s room mate at Depauw University, later a General Electric executive, was Reagan’s boss at General Electric. (ca. 1976)

20. I coauthored a book on economic policy with former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy. (1989)

21. I personally handed presidential candidate Bill Clinton a self-published book opposing free trade but, once in office, President Clinton rammed through NAFTA. (1992)

22. My brother and I stopped by unannounced at the Michigan home of George and Lenore Romney, only to learn that their son, Mitt, who later became Governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, was running for U. S. Senate against Ted Kennedy. (1994)

23. As a member of a landlord group (MPRAC), I participated in a protest demonstration at Minneapolis city hall that succeeded in shutting down a meeting of the city council. (1998)

24. I found my brother’s dead body lying on the floor in his room after a night of extremely high temperatures. (1999)

25. I was an unsuccessful candidate for elective office in eight elections - two for Mayor of Minneapolis, one for state representative, one for U.S. representative, one for U.S. Senator, one for Minnesota lieutenant governor, and two for President of the United States. This losing steak began shortly after I turned 60. (2001-2016)

26. I once owned and raised a pet squirrel. (in the spring of 2008)

27. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura complimented me for winning nearly 7 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate in the 2008 election for U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota’s 5th district. (2008)

28. I have been in a singing group for 25 years with Robert Bly, poet and best-selling author of Iron John, following the Sufi tradition. (1993-2017)

29. I have created and posted 300 pages on 12 different web sites, many translated by machine into foreign languages. See translations.html. (2000-2017)

30. I have been married to and divorced from women of all three races, later remarrying one of my former wives.

31. My little fox terrier dog, Do Do, follows me around the house wherever I go and sleeps in my bed at night.

32. An energetic three-year-old boy, my wife’s grandson who is half native American, presently lives with us.

33. Somewhere among my belongings is an autographed photograph of President William Howard Taft inscribed to his name sake, my father, who was born in 1912.

34. I expect to be buried in a grave at the Milford, Pennsylvania, cemetery less than 50 feet away from the grave of Gifford Pinchot, two-term governor of Pennsylvania and first head of the U.S. Forestry service, and his niece, Mary Pinchot Meyer, a murder victim who is alleged to have been President John F. Kennedy’s mistress.

And, finally, there are two more points:

35. I witnessed the historic rapprochement between China and the United States in the so-called “ping pong diplomacy” from several perspectives. When in 1971 Chairman Mao decided to invite the U.S. table-tennis team to tour China, the message was delivered to Charlie Disney, a table-tennis player and official who later became a close friend of mine, before it got to the president of the U.S. team, Graham Steenhoven, and the rest of the team. A childhood friend of mine, Andrew (Christy) Court, later accompanied Henry Kissinger to Beijing in preparation for President Nixon’s visit. Finally, I myself married the daughter of a high-ranking Chinese military officer and visited Beijing perhaps six times during the course of our marriage.

36. I presently have a personal connection to the prospective chairs of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC). Starting with the Democrats, my own Congressman, Keith Ellison, who is backed by Bernie Sanders, is a leading candidate to become chair of the DNC. I ran against him for Congress in 2008 as candidate of the Independence Party, winning almost 7 percent of the vote. (Note - Ellison was elected the party's vice chair.) With respect to the Republicans, President-elect Trump is supporting Ronna Romney McDaniel, currently the party’s chair in Michigan, to become chair of the RNC. While I have never met Ms. McDaniel, I did know her father, Scott Romney, quite well. He and I went to summer camp in Ontario in 1953 and, in the summer of 1956, we took evening courses together in house-wiring and welding at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. (Note - Yes, she was elected party chair.)

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