Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics

  • 406 pages
  • Anglais
  • Format Kindle
Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics

› Purpose of text ∉ Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics ⁝ Kindle Author Joe Biden ₉ Chapter 1 Impedimenta Joe Impedimenta My classmates hung that nickname on me our first semester of high school when we were doing two periods of Latin a day It was one of the first big words we learned Impedimentathe baggage that impedes ones progress So I was Joe Impedimenta Or Dash A lot of people thought they called me Dash because of football I was fast, and I scored my share of touchdowns But the guys at an all boys Catholic school usually didnt give you nicknames to make you feel better about yourself They didnt call me Dash because of what I could do on the football field they called me Dash because of what I could not do in the classroom I talked like Morse code Dot dot dot dot dash dash dash dash You gu gu gu gu guys sh sh sh sh shut up My impedimenta was a stutter It wasnt always bad When I was at home with my brothers and sister, hanging out with my neighborhood friends, or shooting the bull on the ball field, I was fine, but when I got thrown into a new situation or a new school, had to read in front of the class, or wanted to ask out a girl, I just couldnt do it My freshman year of high school, because of the stutter, I got an exemption from public speaking Everybody else had to get up and make a presentation at the morning assembly, in front of 250 boys I got a pass And everybody knew it Maybe they didnt think much of itthey had other things to worry aboutbut I did It was like having to stand in the corner with the dunce cap Other kids looked at me like I was stupid They laughed I wanted so badly to prove I was like everybody else Even today I can remember the dread, the shame, the absolute rage, as vividly as the day it was happening There were times I thought it was the end of the world, my impedimenta I worried that the stutter was going to be my epitaph And there were days I wondered How would I ever beat it Its a funny thing to say, but even if I could, I wouldnt wish away the darkest days of the stutter That impedimenta ended up being a godsend for me Carrying it strengthened me and, I hoped, made me a better person And the very things it taught me turned out to be invaluable lessons for my life as well as my chosen career I started worrying about my stutter back in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in grade school When I was in kindergarten, my parents sent me to a speech pathologist at Marywood College, but it didnt help much, so I went only a few times Truth was, I didnt let the stutter get in the way of things that really mattered to me I was young for my grade and always little for my age, but I made up for it by demonstrating I had guts On a dare, Id climb to the top of a burning culm dump, swing out over a construction site, race under a moving dump truck If I could visualize myself doing it, I knew I could do it It never crossed my mind that I couldnt As much as I lacked confidence in my ability to communicate verbally, I always had confidence in my athletic ability Sports was as natural to me as speaking was unnatural And sports turned out to be my ticket to acceptanceand I wasnt easily intimidated in a game, so even when I stuttered, I was always the kid who said, Give me the ball Whos going to take the last shot Give me the ball We need a touchdown now Give me the ball Id be eight years old, usually the smallest guy on the field, but I wanted the ball And they gave it to me When I was ten, we moved from the Scranton neighborhood I knew so well to Wilmington, Delaware My dad was having trouble finding a good job in Scranton, and his brother Frank kept telling him there were jobs in Wilmington The Biden brothers had spent most of their school days in Wilmington, so it was like going home for my dad For the rest of us, it felt like leaving home But my mom, who was born and raised in Scranton, determined to see it as my dad did she refused to see it any other way This was a wonderful opportunity Wed have a fresh start Wed make new friends We were moving into a brand new neighborhood, to a brand new home This wasnt a hand me down house Wed be the first people to ever set foot in it It was all good She was like that with my stutter, too She wouldnt dwell on the bad stuff Joey, youre so handsome Joey, youre such a good athlete Joey, youve got such a high IQ Youve got so much to say, honey, that your brain gets ahead of you And if the other kids made fun of me, well, that was their problem Theyre just jealous She knew how wounding kids could be One thing she determined to do when we moved to Wilmington was hold me back a year Besides being young and small, Id missed a lot of school the last year in Scranton when Id had my tonsils and adenoids removed So when we got to Wilmington, my mom insisted I do third grade overand none of the kids at Holy Rosary had to know I was being held back by my mom That was just another of the ways Wilmington would be a fresh start Actually, we were moving to the outskirts of Wilmington, to a working class neighborhood called the Claymont area, just across the Pennsylvania state line I still remember the drive into Delaware It all felt like an adventure My dad was at the wheel and my mom was up front with him, with the three of us kids in back me, my brother, Jimmy, and my six year old sister, Valerie, who was also my best friend We drove across the state line on the Philadelphia Turnpike, past the Worth Steel Mill, the General Chemical Company, and the oil refineries, all spewing smoke We drove past Worthland and Overlook Colony, tightly packed with the row houses that the mills had built for their workers not long after the turn of the century Worthland was full of Italians and Poles Overlook Colony was black It was just a mile or so down the road to Brookview Apartments and our brand new garden unit A right off the Philadelphia Pike, and we were home Brookview was a moonscape A huge water tower loomed over the development, but there wasnt a tree in sight We followed the main road in as it swept us in a gentle curve Off the main road were the courts One side was built, but the other was still under construction We could see the heavy machinery idling among the mounds of dirt and red clay It was a hot summer day, so our car windows were rolled down I can still remember the smell of that red clay, the sulfurous stink from the bowels of the earth As we arced down the main street toward a new home, my mom caught sight of these airless little one story apartments They were the color of brown mustard My dad must have seen my moms face as she scanned her new neighborhood Dont worry, Pudd, he told her Its not these We have a big one He pulled the car around to the bottom of a bend, and without getting out of the car, he pointed across an expanse of not quite lawn, toward the big one Our new home was a two story unit, white, with thin columns in fronta hint of Tara, I guessand a one story box off each side There it is, he said All of this Mom asked No, just the center, my dad said Then, Dont worry, Pudd, its only temporary From the backseat I could tell my mom was crying Mom Whats the matter, Mommy Im just so happy Isnt it beautiful Isnt it beautiful Actually, it didnt seem bad to me It was a miniature version of a center hall colonial, and we had bedrooms upstairs I had the bedroom in back, which meant from my window I could gaze upon the object of my deepest desire, my Oz Archmere Right in the middle of this working class steel town, not a mile from the mills and directly across from the entrance of Brookview Apartments, was the first mansion I had ever really seen I could look at it for hours John Jacob Raskob had built the house for his family before the steel mills, chemical plants, and oil refineries came to Claymont Raskob was Pierre du Ponts personal secretary, but he had a genius for making money out of money He convinced the du Ponts to take a big stake in General Motors and became its chairman of finance Raskob was also a Catholic hero He used part of his fortune to fund a charitable foundation, and hed run the campaign of the first Catholic presidential nominee, the Democrat Al Smith In 1928 the Democrats had political strategy sessions in his library at Archmere Raskob went on to build the Empire State Building The mansion he built in Claymont, the Patio at Archmere, was a magnificent Italianate marble pile on a property that sloped down to the Delaware River Archmerearch by the seawas named for the arch of elms that ran on that slope to the river But after the working mans families, not to mention the noise and pollution from the mills, began to crowd the Patio, Raskob cut his losses and sold the mansion to an order of Catholic priests The Norbertines turned it into a private boys school Archmere Academy was just twenty years old when I moved in across the street When I played CYO football that year, our coach was Dr Anzelotti, a Ph.D chemist at DuPont who had sons at the school Archmere let Dr Anzelotti run our practices on the grounds of the school From the moment I got within the ten foot high wrought iron fence that surrounded the campus and drove up the roadthey actually called it the yellow brick roadI knew where I wanted to go to high school I didnt ever think of Archmere as a path to greater glory When I was ten, getting to Archmere seemed enough Id sit and stare out my bedroom window and dream of the day I would walk through the front doors and take my spot in that seat of learning. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Joe Biden, the author of Promise Me, Dad, tellsthe story of his extraordinary life and career prior to his emergence as Barack Obamas beloved, influential vice president In Promises to Keep, Joe Biden reveals the experiences that shaped him with his customary candor and charm He movingly recounts growing up in a staunchly Catholic multigenerational household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware overcoming personal tragedy, life threatening illness, and career setbacks his relations, as a United States senator for than thirty five years, with fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and his leadership of powerful Senate committees Through these and other recollections, Biden shows us how the guiding principles he learned early in lifeto work to make peoples lives better to honor family and faith to value persistence, candor, and honestyare the foundation on which he has based his lifes work as husband, father, and legislator Promises to Keep is the story of a man who surmounted numerous challenges to become one of our most effective leaders It is also an intimate series of reflections from a public servant who witnessed and participated in a momentous epoch of American history and refuses to be cynical about political leadershipa stirring testament to the promise of the United States. 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