Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
And in the end the crowd sang, "For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow . . . Which nobody can deny."
Sen. Edward Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts, moved with long, jaunty strides down the corridors of the Russell Building on his way to becoming Bay Stater of the Year - only to be stopped in mid-stride by the panel of reporters who had been waiting for just this opportunity.
He smiled. Kissed his mother. Looked at the microphone stuck under his mouth. And talked about his political future, because that's what they asked him, and Brooke knows better than anybody that that would be the reigning question of the hour.
Tuesday, Brooke's estranged wife, Remigia, requested between divorce trial after negotiations between their respective lawyers broke down. And it has been a messy enough divorce until now - Brooke having admitted that he made a financial "misstatement' under oath.
"If everybody gets out of a U.S. Senate race who's made a misstatement, there won't be anybody serving in public office," said this senator.
Cheers and loud applause from the crowd who had gathered.
Brooke looked thoroughly delighted. He had plenty of nice things to say about his constituents - and he made sure he said them twice: first for the benefit of the press, and then to the more than a hundred people (including Joe Early and Jim Burke - both Democratic representatives from Massachusetts) gathered in the Russell room, celebrating his Bay Stater of the Year award, given to him by the Massachusetts Society of WashingtoN.
"I still call Massachusetts my home," said the senator. ". . . And I found that as I traveled through Massachusetts - I found the people of Massachusetts much more sensitive and compassionate than people I've found anywhere in the world."
He had not misjudged his audience. Compassionate is not the word for the mood of the people gathered at the reception Tuesday evening; they were wild for him.
"He's damn good," said Eunice Coxon. "I'm interested in his ability as an able and capable senator. I'm not interested in his divorce."
"I think everyone in the state of Massachusetts is lucky to have Ed Brooke represent him," said another guest.
"I think we don't know the whole story," said Joan Rooks. "It looks like a family matter."
"Hell hath no fury . . ." said a lady from Georgia.
It was the mood of the hour. The Massachusetts Society of Washington has made its decision to honor Brooke in April - and just decided to stick with it when the problems plaguing the senator broke out. "It's somewhat difficult for us to back out," said George Vlau, last year's president of the society. "We'd gone on what he'd done in the past." There was, according to a society officer, one member of the society's executive committee who wondered out loud if they should postpone or cancel the affair. But when the vote was taken, it was unanimous - Ed Brooke would get the award.
And so one of those moments of Washington ceremony - so insignificant in origin - suddenly took on, because of circumstance, because of a coincidence of timing, and because of an angry personal affair - an extraordinary significance.
Before the mad crush of supporters, press and hot TV lights, Brooke addressed the assembled. But first he smiled for the cameras. He showed them his plaque with its golden map of Massachusetts.He posed with his mother.
Then he said how much the award meant to him - "particularly at this time in my life."
"I want to thank you all for being so kind . . . to my mother," he told the society, "for allowing her to crown the Cherry Blossom Princess. It has meant much to her in her lifetime . . ."
Edward Brooke's mother, Helen, wearing a festive white orchid on her print dress, did her part by kissing and hugging many of the supporters - and avoiding questions from the press, except to say, yes - yes she was proud of her son.
And Brooke did his part by telling the cheering crowd that he would never have accepted this award if he felt he'd done anything "that would in any way bring dishonor to this award."
And then it was over - or almost. Brooke roamed through the crowd, shaking hands and kissing and posing for the cameras and shaking hands and hugging and posing for the cameras.
At the end of it all, a Brooke supporter walked up to a member of the press. "Put that in your pipe and smoke it," he said. And marched off.