Family, friends remember Scoop Jackson

EVERETT — To the nation, Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson spent 43 years in Congress fighting against communism and preserving America’s wilderness areas.

To Anna Marie Laurence, the man known as Scoop was a protective dad who interrogated her dates and enjoyed strawberry shortcake with a generous helping of whipped cream at the Evergreen State Fair.

Thursday, on what would have been her father’s 100th birthday, Laurence shared a trove of personal stories about him and their relationship during a centennial celebration at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Comcast Arena.

“I celebrated my first birthday in the Senate dining room,” she said as she began a journey through her life for the crowd of 150 people.

There was a kindergarten class trip to the White House, private dinners with President Jimmy Carter and his family and those teenage boys.

“He screened all my dates, sometimes for 30 minutes,” she said.

When he ran for president in 1972 and again in 1976, it meant an endless schedule of posing for pictures, shaking hands and riding in parades.

“It was enough to make anyone tired except my father, who had endless energy,” she said.

Henry Martin Jackson, who was born May 31, 1912, in the Oakes Avenue home of his parents, never slowed once he entered the world of politics at age 26 with his election as Snohomish County prosecutor.

In 1940, at age 28, he won a seat in the U.S. House. After a dozen years there, he captured a seat in the Senate and was serving his sixth term at the time of his death in 1983.

At three events Thursday, Laurence and her brother, Peter Jackson, along with family friends and a few politicians took the measure of a man who rose to become one of the most influential members of Congress and recognized senators around the globe. Their mother, Helen Jackson, who has been battling Alzheimer’s disease, did not attend the events.

“It is nearly impossible to capture all that he’s done,” U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said at the centennial. “For 71 years on this planet Scoop touched so many lives. No doubt 100 years from now Scoop Jackson’s legacy will be remembered.”

There was a private event at the Everett Naval Station followed by a public gathering at Everett Community College and then the centennial celebration where a recurring theme was how much Jackson loved his hometown.

“This community made all the difference to him,” said his son, Peter.

“It’s as much a celebration of Scoop’s birthday as it is a celebration of this community.”

At the centennial, Scandinavian accordionist Stan Boreson, an icon himself, told of a friendship that blossomed on the presidential campaign trail in 1972. He said Jackson asked him to be his “opening man,” which, he learned, meant warming up the audience before the candidate took the stage.

“It was quite an experience,” Boreson said.

Nationally known political figures took part Thursday as well.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who served with Jackson, and journalist George Will, who covered the senator’s career and 1976 presidential campaign, sent separate video messages.

McCain called Jackson a “towering figure in the history of American politics” and a model of what a statesman should be.

Will credited Jackson with helping the country “keep its nerve” in the long fight against the spread of totalitarianism.

For him, the monuments to Jackson “are what you don’t see” such as the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain.

For students of Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, attending the centennial filled in a lot of blanks about the school’s namesake.

“Before, all I knew was his name was Scoop. I’ve learned he had a huge impact on the entire United States,” junior Rahma Keene said afterward. “It gives you a connection that wasn’t there before.”

Sam Hickman, also a junior, nodded in agreement. He said he’s been studying the Cold War in his history class and what he heard about Jackson’s stand against the Soviet Union gave him a better context for that period.

“I didn’t know anything about him,” he said. “Now, it gives you a sense of pride to this high school.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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