Rep. Frank R. Wolf, the conservative Republican from Northern Virginia's 10th District, didn't even flinch as the dark-eyed Arlington artist told him her son had been kidnapped by the sister of Benito Mussolini.
Nor did he react when she breezily told him to give her love to John and Elizabeth (Warner) as she left the Arlington County Courthouse, where she had gone to solicit Wolf's help in obtaining county housing assistance.
The middle-aged woman, wearing open-toed sandals on the day of the area's first heavy snowfall, began her 5-minute interview by stating matter-of-factly that her cupboard was bare. Then followed a rambling tale of a meeting with Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali and the alleged kidnapping of her son by a sister of the former Italian fascist dictator.
The poker-faced congressman told the woman he would look into her housing assistance problem.
Wolf, who was spending the afternoon talking to constituents, had mailed notices to residents of his district inviting them to meet with him last week during the congressional recess. As a result, he spent most of the 2-hour period listening to comments on a mixed bag of subjects, including zoning, sludge removal and traffic problems, social security benefits for spouses and international politics.
Assisted by Robert A. Clark, his aide for constituent services, the congressman interviewed 28 men and women who braved snowdrifts and freezing temperatures. Most of the visitors agreed to let a reporter listen to their conversations with Wolf.
One of the more unusual requests came from a 33-year-old Army veteran from Alexandria who had written to and talked with members of Wolf's staff a year ago.
Originally named Berkowitz, the man said he had legally changed his name in 1978 because of harassment associated with the case of New York's "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz. But the Army, he said, insists on using his former name on official documents. The veteran, who asked that his new name not be revealed, asked Wolf to help him convince the military to use only his new name. Wolf said, "I'll try to do something for you."
Constituent Stewart Sifakis, 27, of Rosslyn, who is unemployed, told Wolf that he plans to emigrate to West Germany because he can't find work in this country. He said he wants Wolf to find out if he will be eligible for unemployment and social security benefits after leaving the country.
Wolf told him that he didn't think he would be eligible for unemployment benefits while looking for work overseas but that would not affect his social security eligibility.
Shelley Lucke-Jennings, a young woman from Arlington, questioned Wolf about President Reagan's recent actions in revoking the government's policy of denying Internal Revenue Service tax exemptions to schools practicing racial discrimination.
Wolf responded that the Reagan administration would be introducing legislation to replace the IRS regulations and that he feels "it will pass fairly quickly, within this year and well before this Congress adjourns."
Lucke-Jennings then asked Wolf if he endorsed a national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Wolf replied that he would not endorse such a move "if it became a holiday where we shut down the government."
Wolf said he would support a national holiday for King if it fell on a Saturday or Sunday, with Sunday being more appropriate because "King was a man of God."
Lucke-Jennings, who praised Wolf for his honesty, said she didn't care what day of the week the holiday fell on, she just wanted national recognition of "an ethnic" person, such as the assassinated civil rights leader.
Eduardo Patricio of North Arlington said he came to thank Wolf for helping him obtain an investigation of what Patricio claims was his illegal firing from his job as a government auditor for the Veterans Administration.
In possibly the shortest interview of all, lasting about a minute, a man seeking Wolf's support for the African Assistance Act was assured that he would hear back from the congressman as soon as Wolf had had a chance to review the House resolution.
When Wolf then rose to his feet, signaling the end of the interview, the visitor humorously commented: "Frank, that was very short!"
At 4 p.m., Wolf met with his last constituent, Antoni Stefan Koper, a Polish refugee and retired editor who wanted food and other aid to Poland sent through private humanitarian groups, rather than official channels.
Saying he was "very, very sympathetic," Wolf replied that "it is appropriate that the president speak for the nation, but I support what the president and Secretary Haig have done" with regard to Poland.
Wolf held a similar session in Loudoun County the previous day and met with residents of Reston, Vienna and Annandale later in the week. Last year, he conducted nine town meetings throughout his district.