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Len Garment - a bright light of politics shines no more

2013-09-08T00:00:00Z Len Garment - a bright light of politics shines no moreBy Archibald McKinlay Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I try mightily to keep this column from being a necrology, since many of the departing people I know best have names that, at one time or another, were spelled in bright lights.

One of these, Len Garment, died recently. Len was the brightest, most knowledgeable, outrageous character I knew in the presidential campaign of 1968.

When I think of him, I think of an entire issue of “Life Magazine” made up of trophy-winning photographs. One of these would be Len catching a football, which he often did like an overly dramatic ballet dancer.

He was the brightest, most informed member of our team: the Nixon-Agnew presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, his brother was a factor in Broadway plays and Len was well-known in his circles. Not that he ever promoted this association, he just moved naturally and comfortably in it.

Sometime before he got mixed up in the Nixon law firm, in fact, years before there even was such a law firm, Len was a professional musician. He played clarinet for Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd.

More recently, he was head of the litigation department for Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Alexander and Mitchell. The Mitchell in the name was the father of Jill Mitchell, who worked for me in the early part of the campaign. She stopped, by the way, to have her teeth removed and replaced with man-made teeth that attached to her jaw.

The new teeth looked amazing. She could have been a Hollywood star. Len had laid his clarinet aside for the duration. He broke his self-imposed rule for one night at Ryan’s, an otherwise spiffy eating place.

The Guthrie in the law firm’s name was the father of Jo Guthrie, who worked for me and became a very close friend. The bash at Ryan’s happened on a memorable night when former big-time musicians dusted off their instruments and joined together in one big jam session.

Jo began to become memorable to me the day Len asked me to bring her to a party he threw at his house in Brooklyn Heights. Jo provided everyone with a mainstay of their best stories when she reached for something and one of her breasts rolled out.

For reasons I won’t go into, Jo was featured in several of my list of stories, some having to do with the Harvard Club (Jo earned a graduate degree at Harvard). Normally, I signed the tab. Not one day, however.

When we got word that the tab had bounced. Turns out that her father, known universally within the ranks as “Big Bob,” was not Robert at all. The "R" in his first name stood for Randall. We thereafter used the Harvard Club with great care.

All of this is to say that Len was a genuine brain, articulate beyond belief, and in the last days of Watergate disaster in the White House, was consultant to the President of the United States of America.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

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