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August 29, 2013

Step Back in Time: Aug. 29, 2013

Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

25 years ago

Aug. 29, 1988

When 22-year-old Bruce Caswell went to Washington to serve as one of his congressman’s interns, he never expected to rub elbows with some political notables.

But when Rep. Sherwood Boehlert took his three interns to a members-only cafeteria, Caswell was surprised to see New York Mayor Ed Koch and Sen. Ted Kennedy eating their food at a nearby table.

Another time, Caswell, of Oneonta, and one of the other interns were needed to drive two vans that made up Vice President George Bush’s motorcade in Baltimore. The interns got the chance because Boehlert’s administrative assistant is the head of the Bush’s campaign in New York State.

“I carried his press secretary, executive assistant and staff photographers. Who would have thought that a congressman from upstate New York would have these contacts?” Caswell said.

Caswell answered letters and occasionally researched a new issue as an intern. “Constituent mail is the bread and butter of a congressman. Interns basically enter every letter into the computer and write the letter in the congressman’s style,” he said.

The letters are then reviewed by the legislative aides before being mailed off.

“It makes you cynical at first that the congressman is not answering his own letters,” Caswell said.

Caswell’s cynicism changed when he realized that the congressman’s office is accountable for every letter, 200 of them a week, it receives.

Being an Oneonta resident gave Caswell, a registered Democrat, an extra interest in his job. It spurred him to take a position with Boehlert, although the congressman is a Republican.

“I got a lot of flak from the people at the office. They kept on telling me that now I’m going to vote for George Bush. I’m not,” he said.

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