A Morning with Paul Tsongas

It was a beautiful day in May in a year that Paul was in the Senate, but I do not remember which year it was, so I do not want to just pick one. We went over to 80 Mansur Street, which was Paul and Niki’s home and released all of our children to play with all of Paul and Niki’s children. They were having a great time in the garage where the hay slide was anchored into the wall. I oversaw their play for a few minutes, and, realizing that none of them were going to get into some problem, left to go outside to the garden and talk to Paul.

I found him sitting next to what remained of a tree that he had had cut down. There, around the stump, was a flower garden which was doing very well, with bright blossoms. Paul was planting additional flowers, and, I learned quickly, talking to neighbors who dropped by to talk about the magnificent weather. A treasure trove of influential Lowellians came through the gate to say hello and talk about the weather.

I was digging holes in the dirt so that Paul could place flowers in the holes. All was well with the world, and we got into a discussion on the state of the city. That was a favorite topic for Paul and he stopped the talk about the weather long enough to get some tidbits from the occasional guest about what was going on in their part of the city. I listened with great interest as schools, parks, National Parks, and other items were discussed. Finally, after about an hour, I went in the house to get some coffee.

While standing there, I said that Paul certainly was interested in the city. One of the adults there said, and this was the first time I ever heard the sentence, “Don’t you know, Jim, that to Paul Lowell is the Center of the Universe?” I guess I knew that in some abstract way, but it was said with such finality that it stuck with me from then on.

After a couple of hours, we picked up our children, sheperded them into the car, and returned to our home in the Highlands. We have been in that home, which Paul helped us get by putting in a good word with the banker we eventually went to, for 33 years, I believe. I am painting it green today and for the next week or so, and I hope that it looks rejuvenated. Its salmon color is getting a bit wearing.

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