SOME PEOPLE read the newspaper this summer, and some people didn't. Hammacher, who was up in Maine, didn't, so I had to help him catch up on what went on.
"What did I miss?" he wanted to know as he unpacked his rubber raft and outdoor cooking utensils from the trunk of his car.
"It was a very quiet summer," I assured him.
"President Carter came back from Vienna and Japan and announced he had a major speech on energy. Then he went to Camp David and decided to go fishing instead."
"Did he catch anything?"
"No, but a lot of people came up to Camp David to tell him he was a lousy president."
"I'll bet he didn't like that," Hammacher said.
"On the contrary, he seemed to enjoy it. When he finally came down from the mountain he went on television and told us what everyone said he was doing wrong. Then he revealed the energy crisis was real and he was going to take strong measures to do something about it."
"What did he do?"
"He fired Califano, the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare."
"I didn't know Califano had anything to do with energy."
"Neither did anyone else. It caused quite a stir. The president also shook up the White House. He made Ham Jordan his chief of staff and replaced three girls in the typing pool."
"It sounds like he meant business."
"He did. The president said he was very worried about the malaise in the country so he planned to go out every week and meet with the real American people instead of those who work for him in Washington. It was a real shot in the arm for the people in Kansas City."
"What about his energy program?" Hammacher wanted to know.
"Well, Congress had to go home on vacation, so the president said there was no hurry and he'd deal with the urgent energy crisis when they came back."
"That was good of him. What did he do next?"
"He booked himself and Rosalynn and Amy on the Delta Queen, a paddle wheeler, and took a 10-day ride down the Mississippi."
"That was a good idea, especially since there wasn't anything going on in Washington."
"Right. But while he was jogging around the deck of the Delta Queen, U.N. Ambassador Andy Young met secretly with the PLO in the Kuwaiti ambassador's apartment. When the State Department found out about it, Andy didn't tell them what had happened, so State got miffed and called the president and said Young had to go. Andy resigned and all the black leaders in the United States got mad at Israel."
"You're making all this up."
"There's more. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference decided to take over negotiations in the Middle East. The president was very upset about this because he had sent Bob Strauss to the Middle East to see if he could get Egypt and Israel to agree on a U.N. Resolution.
"Strauss thought he was in charge of the Middle East, but the president passed word from the Delta Queen that Vice President Mondale was in charge. Secretary of State Vance got made at this, so Jody Powell, the president's press secretary, said there was a mistake and Vance was in charge. Strauss then said he wanted to be an unpaid ambassador to the Middle East so he could practice law on the side. Mondale decided he wanted to visit China, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson has offered to meet with Yasser Arafat of the PLO when he comes to New York."
"Isn't there any good news that happened this summer?" Hammacher wanted to know.
"Yes, Carter told his Bible class a few weeks ago that when he went to South Korea in late June he tried to make President Park a Christian."
"Now I know you're pulling my leg," Hammacher said.
I looked at him sadly. "Believe me, I wish I were."