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tv   U.S. Capitol Ghost Stories  CSPAN  July 24, 2021 10:01am-10:52am EDT

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on notebook plus, listen to podcast or wherever you get your podcast. >> c-span's american history the continues now. you can find the full schedule for the weekend on your program guide or at >> so, okay, spook fans. this is the moment where, you know, every year people anticipate what is steve going to say about the capitol ghosts because these are stories that have been past down over generations and various sightings have been seen about the cat and other stories. nobody tells a story than steven
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lovengood. he has been doing tours of the capitol for almost 25 years, the capitol historical society. we will be celebrating 25 years of service with us in march so we look forward to that festive activity, but today he's going to take us through the capitol and tell us what is really there that you don't see right away but it's somehow is available as you walk-through the capitol. steve, take us on a tour of the unknown. >> thank you, jane. ghosts have been interfering to present in the program. this is the spookiest picture in the capitol building.
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the oldest photo known and i think it looks pretty spooky. i get asked what are ghosts in definition for this purpose and i have come up with the idea that ghosts -- the capitol is filled with spirit. we can talk about those, but some spirits arouse fear. we all believe in spirits in the capitol, democracy and, of course, freedom, has fans on top of the dome and there's even a spirit connected with that, philip reed, this is probably not a photograph of philip reed but the man who installed statute freedom on top of the capitol and probably worked with him. enslaved man who helped create the statute of freedom and he actually got his freedom while he was working on it, slavery
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was abolished in washington, d.c. while he was working on the statute of freedom and so he got paid as a freeman to help finish installing the statute, his freedom was hard earned and the spirit of freedom was more important to him than the spirit are to many of us who have them as right. there's also the enslaved labor memorial in the capitol center. a lot of enslaved people that worked in the capitol. the stone is one of the original ones and probably cut by enslaved african-americans and most likely brought to the capitol through their labor, several of them died in the course of building the capitol, actually gave their lives and there's nothing that honors them in the capitol before this stone was put in or even recognized their work. so this is recognizing its
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spirit of people whose names we don't know but who gay their lice and gave their labor to construct the capitol building and they helped give the spirit of freedom to the capitol. there are a couple of men who actually died in defending the capitol, officer jacob chestnut and john gibson both gave their lives to defend the capitol. in fact, the only two people in history ever to die capitol building when an insane man attacked them in 1888. these are some of the spirit in the capitol. now, george washington is honored this way and there's a
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spooky story about -- about him -- we can't find the cornerstone that he layed. we know that he layed it. people came and saw it. the senate put on a plaque to honor where the cornerstone would be and in 1931, the mason put a stone. they realized the whole capitol was under construction when the
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cornerstone was and in 1991, you can see architect of the capitol george wright there standing looking down in the hole where they're looking for the cornerstone. they couldn't find it. they did leaf the patch on, a concrete where they were looking for the cornerstone and weren't able to find it. we will talk about the cleaning lady that's legendary in the capitol. there are still people, particularly women that go to capitol in the evenings and clean things up and there was a faithful back in 19th century who used a scrub brush like the woman has on the left here and would work long hours and she took pride. she would longer than she was paid to keep the building clean. there are a number of salespeople that still do that
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today. keeping the building clean. after the woman died, people said they could still hear that scrub brush going. they could tell the spirit was there honoring the building and trying to keep the building clean. now, one famous ghost is a continental soldier. a tomb that was built for george washington, right under the center of the dome if you come in late at night, this continental soldier is parading up and down guarding george washington's body. george washington was such a hero at the time of the revolution that the soldier have you vowed that he would guard george washington's body for eternity and he's still there because he died before they
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decided not to bury george washington there. what you're seeing in this paragraph photograph a glass case that holds the catapult that holds lying in state ceremony. the tomb actually looks like this and it's hard to get to until you have to get through a lot of corridors and up some stairs and so far to get there. it's best to go late at night when the light isn't there and then you can actually see this goes going up and down. in that way, he's the spirit that's haunting the capitol, but you think about it, kind of silly thing guarding a body that's not there and it has the overtones but personality around george washington which was always a danger with leaders and
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here he is spending in eternity doing something, guarding a body that's not there and so we think of him as a ghost because that's kind of a -- a ghostly rather than a real spiritual contribution to the capitol building. >> now, the senate used to have a barbershop. there was a famous barber simms. he was famous for the haircuts he gave in the capitol building and made friends with a lot of senators and he was on sundays he was a minister and had been promoted to bishop in his
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church, and he sang spirituals while he was cutting hairs and people heard singing in the corridors and senators said they could still hear him in the corridors singing and offer spiritual council to the senators. his is one of the spirits that inhabits the capitol. but now we get to a negative one, no question on this one, these are the bloody stairs, these are on the house side of the capitol and here he is a picture of the bloodstains on the stair and on the left is congressman william talby. that's his bloodstaining the stairs. william talby was a personality, big man and dominant figure and
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he was a methodist minister that got elected to congress from kentucky and served a couple of terms but he was not popular with the newspaper in louisville and their reporter william printed negative things about him, particularly he was profiting from his position in congress and just before the third election when he was ant to be reelected again kingcade had article of infidelity. everybody knew that his wife was back in kentucky. that was embarrassing to him and he was unhappy about it and he couldn't go back to kentucky even. he stayed here in washington and every once in a while he would run into kingcade in the capitol
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building because tolby would taunt kingcade and tweak his ear and twist his ear and make him bow and this is a particularly humiliating thing in code of southern chivalry and kingcade resented this. one day knowing the code, he gave the response, sir, i'm not armed. this is a challenge to a dual. he's saying let's get -- settle this in the honor of arms and tolby said, well, perhaps next time you better be. and unfortunately for tolby the next time tolby did it he was armed and he pulled his gun right here at the steps and shot tolby in the face. it took a week to die and we
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have never been able to get the blood out of the stairs there. talby made a statement that he had asked for this response and when kingcade was charged with murder, he was acquitted on the grounds of having defended his honor. but today journalists have to be careful on these stairs because william tolby's ghost is there and would trip them. journalists are advised to take different stairs because talby will amendment to trip them on the staircase. now i have been asked if there's ever been test done to determine if this is, in fact, flood stains and the answer is no, we wouldn't test that, that might spoil the story. now here are the senate bath
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tubes. there used to be 6 of them and now there's only a cum of them and this is the only one open for people to see. senators. even when the extensions were build in 1850's, senators and congressmen lived in boarding houses near the capitol and they often didn't have running water and particularly didn't have bath tubes. and so one expected to go somewhere else to take a bath. there were public baths and the senate put in their own and the house did as well. the senate put in these marble bath tubes. that's im-- imported from india and they got the marble tubs but the mashing cracked easily so they can't be used anymore.
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but the most famous person to use these tubs was vice president henry wilson. henry wilson was a famous senator from massachusetts and then was popular, elected vice president so he presided over the senate and he particularly liked taking baths and harry truman was the one who commented how terrible the vice president's job was and there wasn't anything to do but wait for the vice president to die. henry wilson did a lot of time relaxing in the tub and he often would forget that he was supposed to be or there would be a senate vote called and he would have to run back upstairs and he was often seen pulling his clothes back on as he ran up the stairs. now, he -- he actually died of -- of pneumonia and i was able
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to locate this picture. luckily he had his cloths on. here is a picture of henry wilson sitting in the tub there. he was ill while taking baths and baths were not considered to be healthy at the time and people said that he had died of pneumonia because he took too many baths. even today a lot of times you can hear henry wilson running back up -- his ghost running up senate chamber and coughing of pneumonia that he died. this is a picture from the american political science association. unfortunately i forgot to write down her name. now, another ghost story is about the carpenter and the brick mason. the carpenter was a handsome fellow and he carried on kind of
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a foot with the brick layer who is on the right there. and they would get in the conflict, an old guy and the way he was treated. there's even a drawing and later on, the brick mason was so angry that he knocked out the carpenter and he had gotten in trouble for fighting. a location to the corridor to the rooms and there's a place you can see where the bricks were added and if you come by that late at night, particularly
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after lights are gone, people are gone, you can hear the carpenter inside still trying get out. so that one is definitely a ghost. another ghost is peter. he sits in the crypt -- he's trying to get out of congress. he was never paid. they went ahead and let andrew. lafont got no credit and no
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money a spirit that we can identify that is fearful. another one is john, old chamber. that's elaborate. that's a brick art. one of the complex brick arches ever built and at the time had
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wider span. they had to put the pillars in but they got it successfully built, john was the one in charge and he was doing a lot of different projects here in washington. he thought this arch was ready to be freed of the scaffolding and he was going to take the scaffold down and we don't know if they got the letter or not. they wrote back and told them not to do that, he didn't think he was ready yet. they pulled out the support and the ceiling fell on him and killed him. embarrassing to have projects
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fall down. that's another sad story. the gold is seen in the old supreme court chamber still trying to defend himself from the falling bricks of that wonderful arch. the second most famous ghost in the capitol is the shot showing where the fingerprints are. this is the main corridor between the rotunda and the senate wing. in the concrete there, you can see footprints issued is that 7 guards kept by a particularly hostile cat. and it became famous for a
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costing guards that were walking alone through the capitol building. we know that there were cats in the capitol. this photograph of some of them. this is from the cafeteria and the building, you can see on this flight. neither of them is the demon cat because he's all black but there were cats and there were cats in the capitol and we know the guards on the shift late at night and nobody was around, brother-in-law who had a drinking problem. and sometimes the night watchmen would end up in a horizontal position when they thought they were in a vertical position. one of them the laying down or thinking he was standing up one night and one of the cats comes to investigate what's going on and the guy thinks he's 5 feet in the air and the cat and so he
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lashed out of the cat and quite frightened by this and the cat retaliated by scratching the man and so the man had proved that he had been attacked by the demon cat in the middle of the night there. when his relief showed up the next morning they knew what the issue was. his supervisor, joe, we will take care of the cat and you go home and rest for a couple of days. the supervisor knew that they couldn't fire the senator's brother-in-law. they would take care of the demon cat. history gets made because other guards discovered that if they were attacked by the demon cat they got a couple of days off too. this is how history is written. the demon cat -- some people tell me that there's no real evidence of the demon cat but i
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can show you some concrete evidence because here is where he carved his initials into the concrete. this is a corridor that goes from the old senate into the terrace and there's where the demon cat carved initials and that's proof that the demon cast exist. next is penrose of pennsylvania. senator penrose is a powerful senator. he was state chairman of the democratic party in pennsylvania and -- and senator from pennsylvania.
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since he was a bachelor and didn't have much social life he would spend evenings and had trouble and had rocking chair in hide-away office and people could hear him in there rocking and long after he died, they could still hear him because the ghost is still in there trying to read all of the bills that have been in congress. >> and at that time, they started the books all over the capitol building and there were huge addicts and so this librarian was the one that knew
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where the obscure books were. and so he began to build in books that he knew nobody would check out and only seeing where they were and he could protect money that way. unfortunately built a new library of congress and began to move all of the books over there and they even had to invent a new cataloging system for congress. so that's when the library of congress system was invented in this poor clerk was not the only person to know where all the books were and he was not able to get all of the money that he had hidden in the books before they got them all moved even though it took them 3 years to move all of the books.
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so the poor guy's ghost is still in the capitol trying to locate book -- all the books and you could hear him at night rushing through the capitol and trying to locate where he left those books. most famous book of all is john quincy adams. picture in his location of capitol building. of course, andrew jackson won the popular vote and got majority in the congress and they didn't let john quincy adams accomplish very much and so adams left office, woodiest
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, and theyarrested all of him le house of representatives and he had been elected senator by the state legislature in massachusetts but willing elected to the house of representatives, he was elected by the people and he always considered that to be the greatest honor he had ever received. became famous and known as old man eloquent, but he was sitting there at that seat when he had a stroke and carry intoed the speaker's office where he died, members of congress with proper attire in his desk at the speaker's office. he was plan to go giver a speech.
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they were giving him medals to the general in the mexican war. he thought that was the most unrighteous war and nobody should get a medal for serving in an unrighteous war. his ghost is still trying to give the speech in statuary hall. i like to go to house receptions. i like to walk to the capitol in the dark and commune with the spirits and i have seen john quincy adams ghost in the house chamber. it's a ghost because he was not able to prevail on this issue and his death is a tragedy. now also in statuary hall is a famous legend that i can put an end to. the legend is that those
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statutes in statuary hall get down off pedestal on new year's eve and they dance but this is absolutely absurd because in that room is francis willard first woman honored in statuary hall and for decades the only woman honored there. she's famous as founder of women's union. she knew fully well that dancing lead to drinking and so she disapproved of dancing and certainly would not allow it. and frank wees willard would put an end to that. there are two ghosts related to speakers. on the left is joe cannon, most powerful speaker in the congressional history.
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kept the appointments of senators in the committee and he would appoint another one and put a freshman and do what he's told and he was referred to as tsar cannon and he liked to make a joke about that. and when he was going to announce something that was going to infuriate the people that opposed him, we are able to perpetrate the following outrage. champ clark elected from the minority, he was a democrat but elected with just enough republican votes to defeat joe cannon. this humiliated joe cannon but not enough to leave congress.
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and he did everything he could to block anything that champ clark tried to do and if he comes through the corridors late at night after the lights are tush turned down and there's not much noise, you can hear them squabbling. you can hear outside the chamber. there's one ghost, i'm the only one that's ever mentioned having seen him but i still see him a lot. this is wilbur mills. wilbur mills considered most powerful member of congress, member from arkansas and chairman of the house and way means committee and he always counted his votes. he had a particular place that he liked to stand because
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members would come to him relate under the ways and means committee and so he was a very sought out member and he would just stand outside the -- the house ways and means committee room and here he is in the photograph in the location greeting a couple of members in the ways and means committee who had just been elected. he's very powerful and well known and when i first started working around the congress in the 1960's he was still chairman and i would see him in that location and to this day i still see wilbur mills in that location when i go by. now, later on his chief of staff wrote a biography of him and talked in the capitol historical society and i asked and if anyone had seen the ghost and she wasn't aware a spot where wilbur mills had stood.
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she was in charge much later than when i was there so he may have stopped doing that. she wasn't aware of the location. so i'm probably the only one that actually sees wilbur mills ghost there. why do i call it a ghost when he was a spirit, well, this is a picture of wilbur mills and his neighbor. this is not the woman he was married to and the limousine speeding and pulled over by the police and his neighbor here was concerned that she was going to be caught with him, she knew she wasn't supposed to and she jumped into the title basement and the police were able to retrieve her but this was kind of the end of wilbur mills' career, kind of sad ending and that's because this is her working uniform. she was a lady whose business was taking off the uniform and so this did not help wilbur mills reputation and he left
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under a cloud and unfortunate situation. her name, she was known popularity as fannie fox. you might hear the name still around. so i want to mention a couple of books that discuss ghostsment one is dan brown's symbol and it talks about a secret chamber in the capitol building. the chamber did exist but not used for ceremonies dan brown didn't learn about the secret chamber until after and this is the book in which mendoza, a congressman's daughter actually encountered the cat and so this is -- this is the continuing distance of demon cat in literature. we sell the demon cat himself.
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the finna mendoza book on website. i took a picture doing the research for this. wait a minute, where is it gone? the ghost have taken the picture of me during the research for this. i am just speechless. jane, do we have any questions? >> we have so many questions. let me try to quickly put them to you. there are several questions about the picture of the carpenter and the brick layer. and people want to know where is that picture that they might see it and this is true that the brick layer actually cover the carpenter up with bricks and buried him alive. you can get almost anything that
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you want on the internet. it's the replacement for alice's restaurant. [laughter] >> that's the -- that's the first issue. some of you might recognize as plot to edgar allen poe's the cast. yeah, that's got to be a carpenter back there. >> there's a story that there's a ghost of lincoln that haunts the capitol periodically right around f219. >> that particular one i do not know. i know that lincoln showed up at an investigating committee meeting. the senate had convened in committee meetings to investigate, mrs. lincoln, whose
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brothers in law were serving in the confederate army and the wife living in the white house and lincoln heard about the investigation and went to the senate and they deferred to him, let him testify first and he simply said, i will vouch for mrs. lincoln's loyalty so the senators were embarrassed and left. so if lincoln's ghost is there, i'm sure it has to do with that encounter in the senate. lincoln, of course, served in the house of representatives and not the senate. >> the library of congress conversation, where was the library of congress when it was in the capitol and what is in there now? >> the wing that sticks out toward the mall. it was added after the capitol was designed because the congress had purchased thomas jefferson's library which is too large for the room they were using at that point. so it was almost the entire wing
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at least of the upper floors that sticks out toward the mall from the rotunda. it is now occupied on the south by the speaker's office and on the north by a number of hide away offices including the president of the senate and several other people there. then they added another floor above it out of the space, the room was two stories high. i think we have even scheduled a lunch bite later on to talk about that. >> maybe then we can ask if there are any other ghosts that have slipped in the new
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building. >> and then a couple of people asked questions that i think is a bauder question, when would these -- are there evening tours available, you know, right now we don't have the capitol is closed for visitors and we can't do tours. when the capitol reopens, both possibilities are there but we have to abide by the public health guidelines and so stay tuned. we are glad to know that there's interest and we will certainly follow through.
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i have had the problem when -- i let it be known that i do ghost tours. i get overwhelmed with people. i have to be very quiet about the -- about the ghosts because i know that they will be very popular and obviously we have a whole lot more people here today than i've had on any of these webinars. >> where was the secret chamber and what was it used for? >> it was underneath the front steps and part of as extension of the capitol which was done in 1958 to '62. my understanding -- and i should say, i started giving tours of the capitol in '65 so i wasn't too long after that. my understanding was that when they first put television cameras in the capitol for security reasons, they actually hired people to sit and look at
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them. and so there were always cubicles down there that were used for security and my guess is they found out pretty quickly as that's a way to go to sleep. so they don't actually watch those testify cameras anymore and i don't think we have the capability of taping as well as that time. they were not used for anything by the time they were torn down and the way everybody found out about them was that there's some books stored in there and john adams was vice president and this was the senate payroll and somebody had gotten this out of the archives and not returned it and it ended up in the storeroom in the capitol and there was so much publicity about that but they didn't do the publicity
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until after the whole thing was torn down. >> somebody asked about the bloody steps. does that mean that talby had a weapon when it happened? >> talby had assaulted kingcade's honor and that particular concept still exists and it's called stand your ground and we had several cases about it recently. it's a concept that still exists and -- and is in some state laws and -- and, of course, always being proposed that a man has the right to stand up for himself. and so, in fact, it did exist and that was the grounds on which kingcade was acquitted,
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basically that talby deserved it. >> got it. has anyone seen ghost of senator lester hardt? he might be haunting around. >> senator hunt had killed himself in the russell office building and probably the ghost is there. i have not -- i don't get through go to russell building late at night after i've had a lot of wine. i haven't seen it. thanks for ferguson, we know what room took place since she's written a play about this. that certainly was
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investigating. outside the house ways and means committee right off of the house chamber. it is in the south -- in the northeast corner of the south extension of the capitol. >> can you tell us, has the ghost ever been seen on the security tapes or have they managed to evade that? >> i don't have access to security tapes. i'm quite sure that they are there. >> of course.
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what about the congressional cemetery, how does that relate to the capitol? >> well, congressional cemetery was the official cemetery before arlington cemetery was established. the congress used to vote to put a gravestone with no body under it necessarily where every member of congress that died and you can see -- over 100, i believe, in congressional cemetery. i was walking through it and they all look really nice there. they cleaned up the cemetery and restored a lot of the tomb stones since i've been in washington. that's a place where you see a lot of ghosts and they, in fact, so many that they have to shut the cemetery at night to keep people from getting injured by the ghosts. but it actually is probably the most expensive dog park in the
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world, people pay a lot of money to be able to walk their dogs in congressional cemetery because it's prestigious and meet so many people and social activities with them. that's a great place to walk your dog, dog walkers association. but there are lots of ghosts there. people buried. the man in charge of the navy yard at the time the british attacked in 1814 is buried there, jay edgar hoover, famous advocate for gay members of the military. john phillips probably the most famous person buried there. he grew up in that neighborhood. there are lots of ghosts there. i don't have a dog so i don't --
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>> very complex. we are coming to our 1:00 o'clock moment. this is the challenge because steve you have so much interesting information and we've got such great questions and so let me just sort of close with the moment that we always have this great audience, so reports that following the wilbur mills incident a song writer friend of hers wrote a song about it and performed and the course was she may be -- may only be a stripper but she has her ways and means. [laughter] >> we invite you to send us a clip of that song so that for the next time we delve in the story, we have ad it. a lot of people asked will you
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be informed of the next lunch bites, now that you regular thae registered. fascinating stories about the capitol hill near neighborhood that we do and led by steve and his friends. steve has amazing groups of friends that are lovers of the capitol in different ways and so we provide this as a fun activity as we are all trying to deal with the quarantine activities where we meet by zoom rather than in person. and so we thank you for participating, we thank you for your support and, steve, you are a rare treasure. thank you for your stories and we will all imagine how when the
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ghosts come out on all saints day. thank you for being here. thank you for your support. keep it up, take care. >> according to the bureau of labor statistics about 16% of american workers were unemployed in 1936. sponsored by the national association of manufacturers from that year looking at the labor market and the future of work. ♪ ♪ ♪


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