Delaware is small enough and close enough that we get to see, hear, and actually talk to people like our own United States Senator…..BUT HOW MANY OF US GET PICKED UP BY OUR SENATOR ON A COLD FEBRUARY SATURDAY WINTER MORNING AND GET DRIVEN 10 MILIES OUT OF HIS WAY?  I HAD THAT EXPERIENCE.

Between my arrival in Delaware in September of 1976 to be criminal justice department chairman at Wilmington and the present time, I got to meet Joe Biden many times:: at functions,  while he was ringing the salvation army bell on 9th and market street at christmas time, while attending meetings, during campaign gatherings, etc. etc. etc. etc.  BUT I REMEMBER THE CAR RIDE MOST OF ALL.

He first knew my madman reputation with my little weekly ragsheet “views” paper, which was distributed thoughout downtown Wilmington.  He also knew me from the legalized gambling media battles I was involved with in the newspaper almost every day in the late seventies/early eighties.

My my main hour to so meeting was on a very, very cold Saturday morning. It was after his run for president and after his aneurism health issue.  I had just left Widener Law School Library where I was writing a freelance article for Industry Week Magazine.   I was waiting for a bus on concord pike directly across from the main entrance to the Widener campus.   If you know the corner, it is totally unprotected from wind and cold…no cover at all.  The traffic light turned green for those leaving the campus parking lot.  I saw this SUV come from the lot, but instead of making a hard left on to concord pike heading toward Wilmington, the SUV keeps coming right toward me. It goes  across 3 lanes, and makes a sharp left at the curb a few fee from me—the window goes down, and Senator Biden’s head pop out. 

I’ve told the story several times to some friends, and I think I told it on the air once when I was on that radio station which shall remain nameles.

For some reason I remember virtually every word of my  conversation with VP candidate Joseph Biden..

“Where you headed, Gerry”.   I shouted back,  “Claymont to sell advertising for my paper.”  “Get in, I’ll take you”.  I ran, I got in, and  man; was that SUV heater a welcomed sensation. 

“Thanks Senator, I appreciate this.  I just need a ride into town to catch the number 1 bus up to Calymont” 

“No, don’t worry, I’ll take you to Claymont.  It’s too cold to wait for a bus”. I don’t have to be home for a while. But if you don’t mind, I just have to stop at fairfax shopping center to pick up some flowers for my wife.

Here the guy recues me from bitter winter winds, and he is about to drive me about 10 miles in the exact opposite direction way from  where he was headed….and yet, he asked me “if I mind” waiting for him to pick up flowers for his wife.  What a guy!

We started talking…..”You, know Senator, it’s too bad about having to drop out of the presidential campaign race because of what I think was just an understandable mistake that was no big deal”.   I was referring to the accusation of him committing plagiarism in a speech.  “I thought you do you had a good chance to win”, I said.   Of course, I was lying, but what do you say to a guy is driving you ten miles out of his way just to keep you warm?

His shocking reply was;  “It was probably the best thing that happened to me, because if that aneurism came during the presidential campagin, who knows how things would have turned out.”  He had a point.

I went back to the plagiarism topic…I’ve never been a diplomat.  “You know Senator, I don’t where I heard it, or read it, but some one said, ‘Whenever a public figure makes a mistake, he should tell the truth, do it right away, and do it himself’; otherwise it gets dragged out, twisted, inflated etc.”

Biden replied “That’s good advice, I’ll have to remember that”.  Now with this VP gig, he may have to put that into practice some times….let’s face it, Joe is known for speaking his mind…and any one who speaks his mind all the time, is going to have some problems…who knows that better than me.

We then engaged in some small talk for the rest of the ride, including an incident involving his wife and one my kids, and his wife.  Jill Biden taught my oldest son, Joey, english and Brandywine High School.   He really liked her, and he was one of her favorite students, she admitted.  She called our home and to tell us that Joey has been named captain of the cross country team.  My wife replied, “Well, that’s interesting, because he won’t even be able to be on the cross country team since he got an “F”.  Mrs. Biden said, “In what subject?”  My wife said, “In your class, english”.  “No he didn’t.  He got an A.  Let me get back to you”.

Mrs. Biden called back.. “He got an A, but I filled in the wrong bubble on the marking sheet, so, on paper he got an F”, but he really got an A. I’ll fix it”.  From that day on, Mrs. Biden always sent a little note home with Joey’s reportcard, stating what his mark was,  just so that kind of mistake would never happen again.  She was a great teacher according to my kids.

Joe Biden didn’t know that his wife taught my son, until that car ride, on that freezing cold winter morning.  At any rate, Senator Biden dropped me off in Claymont.  I got so cold for the rest of the day, that I regretting not asking the good Senator  if would have minded waiting for me for a couple of hours while I tried to sell advertising for my little paper…but that would have been pushing things a little too far, don’t you think?




  1. Ted Says:

    Biden — the perfect foil for Palin!

  2. Shirley Says:

    Great story !

  3. anon Says:

    Here is my story. June, 1972 the heat of the Vietnam War and our family were organizing bus loads of “patriots” to DC. We were very politically involved and demanding and end to the war.

    Joe Biden knocked on our door. My girlfriend and a gay male friend answered. I was in the middle of having my below the waist hair cut to shoulder length.

    Joe wanted to tell us what he was going to do when he became Senator. He had his “door knocker cards” with all his positions defined. We invited him in to the dining room, where the hair cutting was continuing. He seemed very nervous but realized 3 voters here. He sat down, had ice tea and watched my hair being cut.

    All the while each of us gave him our litany of reasons why the only way he would get our votes and our friends, neighbors votes was to promise: “when I am elected Senator I will do everything in my power to end the war in Vietnam”.

    At first he said he had a plan and started talking about it. It appeared while he wanted the war to end soon was willing to let the “military determine” when we would leave. Oh no we pleaded not good nuff.

    At the beginning of the hair cut he kept saying “are you sure you want to do that”? “how long have been growing it”. Since the war began I replied!

    He continued talking about his plans, how he knew he could win because he had a vision, post war.

    As he was about to leave it’s now one hour or more later, my gay friend asked him “I heard you are telling those who want the war to end that you will do that, but you’re telling those that want to “win” the war that you support that position?

    He was totally taken aback. Why, I don’t have two plans, I have one plan and we all want to see this war end as soon as possible. My male friend, gave him a pen and paper and said, “ok I will take your word, now write on this piece of paper that “you will help stop this war” and we will not only vote for you, we will work on your campaign and get our friends to do so as well. He wrote, I Joe Biden, candidate for Senate will do everything in my power to end the war in Vietnam. We all shook hands and he left.

    He won his election. Years later we met at some event and I reminded him of his “door knock at my house”. He laughed out loud and grab my shoulders and said, “you know I never thought I was going to get out of that house, you guys worked me over pretty good”. He remembered walking down the street and was thinking to himself, “damn, this door knocking is tough”.

    In 2001 the Iraq war was inevitable if Bush had his way. A few people and I, all (anti war) at a political event. We saw him arrive and decided to approach him to question his position on Iraq. He said, that “he had a resolution that Bush would have to go to the UN get their support and come back to Congress for a vote on a declaration of war. He said, “Bush didnt honor the agreement. He went to the UN, didnt get what he wanted and is going ahead anyway.

    He spent about 10 minutes talking to us, and when we asked why he supported going at all, when callers to his office were 6 to 1 against invading. He began to get red faced and obviously wanted to end the conversation. We continued to pose questions. Finally he turned around and said, “look I am winning against Clatworthy 5 to 1, I don’t need your votes. And walked away.

    I always felt he was a smart man with information none of us would ever know. All those commissions and hearings he attended , but , why did we citizens know that this war would be a disasater, as it turned out. Why he has taken a “hawkish” position on foreign policy matters when his personality reflects a more diplomatic bent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: