My boss, the secretary of the department, dropped by my desk today with the rest of his staff in tow to present me with a certificate of appreciation, because I’m basically just awesome and pretty much know everything. As he was presenting me with the certificate, he asked me a question I can’t recall hearing in years: “Are you any relation to Alvin O’Konski, the Wisconsin state congressman?” I couldn’t stop at telling him I was; I had to try to remember a few stories about him, too. It turns out the secretary is Alvin’s biggest fan, wrote letters to him and told me all about the time he met Alvin with the enthusiasm you would typically see only in the face of a sports fan talking about his favorite big-league baseball star. The guy was a sports fan, but for politicians. He knew all about Alvin, where he served, how long and how he eventually lost his seat after redistricting and the election to Dave Obey.

I’m pretty sure the last time anybody asked me about Alvin was more than twenty years ago. Certainly nobody’s asked me since I came back to Wisconsin, and I wasn’t sure anybody even remembered him any more, but at least I know now that one person does.

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