On this day in 1955, while waiting for the Senate to conclude its business and adjourn sine die, members of the House broke out into song on the House floor.
Rep. Percy Priest (D-Tenn.) started the songfest at about 9 p.m. by leading a group of his colleagues in a chorus of several songs, including “Let the Rest of the World Go By.” As additional members joined in the impromptu musical performance, Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Texas), taken aback by the unscripted frivolities, called the House to order and the legislators approved several pending bills.
Then Rep. Clare Hoffman (R-Mich.) thanked the House staffers who “handled those illegible or indecipherable manuscripts that we send down to the Printing Office and which come back the next day in the [Congressional] Record logical and clear.”
As the House once more stood in recess, Rep. Louis Rabaut (D-Mich.) followed Priest’s example by leading the chamber in song. Rabaut called on a House page, Bill Goodwin, to join him in the well. Years later, Goodwin, who sang “the Lord’s Prayer,” recalled that “the place was packed, and we were all waiting, and a lot of frivolity was going on at that time. The guys were telling jokes, and some guys were singing, but then Mr. Rabaut asked me to sing. That was a great thrill, and I got a good ovation for it, too.”
Goodwin also joined in a duet with Rep. Coya Knutson (D-Minn.), who had studied at the Juilliard School of Music. Rep. Frank Chelf (D-Ky.) then played several well-received melodies on his harmonica.
Shortly before midnight, the merriment ended when the House adjourned sine die, ending the first session of the 84th Congress.
SOURCE: OFFICE OF HISTORY AND PRESERVATION, CLERK OF THE U.S. HOUSE
The Gazette now offers Facebook Comments on its stories. You must be logged into your Facebook account to add comments. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal page, uncheck the box below the comment. Comments deemed offensive by the moderators will be removed, and commenters who persist may be banned from commenting on the site.