Marvin Mandel said he dropped in on the last day of the General Assembly because the state house canteen sold the cheapest cup of coffee in town. He drank his with Janet Hoffman, lobbyist for Baltimore City since the 1940s and one of the few personalities who could keep up with Mandel as he indulged himself in memories.
It was a performance with everyone assisting in their former roles. Reporters stood like birds on a wire, asking for the suspended governor's impressions, filling their notebooks with his cautious answers. Legislators came over to his small table for a handshake and advice. "Vote no today and you won't get in trouble," Mandel told one Baltimore City senator who tipped his cigar in tribute.
Mandel's final-day appearance was going by the book, his first as a visitor here after 25 years as a leader.
Then Sen. Frederick C. Malkus Jr. walked in. For thirty years the Democratic legislator for Dorchester County, Malkus immediately let go with his classic complaint that Hoffman was lobbying too much money for Baltimore and leaving nothing for the rural counties.
"Remember," Malkus told Mandel, "You were good to us those first years (as Governor). But then Prince George's got to you." Mandel laughed. That was not his recollection. But he did remember other years; like the time the House put an unconstitutional amendment on a bill and then adjourned on the last day, leaving the state teachers without a pay raise. He laughed again and asked Hoffman if that wasn't so.
"Yes, I remember that," answered Hoffman. "I prepared that amendment. It was 20 years ago." Hadn't it been later, in 1966? Mandel asked. It didn't matter. It was part of the old days. "Sessions aren't as exciting now," Mandel said.