“I was 17. I was a senior in high school. I was president of my class . . . And I had some trepidations about going . . . It would be my first time away from home for any length of time. So I gave some serious thought, but I thought, at the end, it was the thing to do, to go to Washington, and be part of the political scene. [Mayor John Fitzpatrick] came up to me, and two weeks had gone by and he said, 'Do you want to go to Washington?' And I said, 'Yes, I’d love to go.' And I guess about here, people would usually say, 'Boy Garrigan goes to Washington, and the rest is history.'”
— Myles Garrigan, May 25, 2012
In his oral history interview, Myles Garrigan takes us through the halls of the House, the Capitol Page School, and Washington, D.C., as he recollects his time working at the House of Representatives. His description of the ordinary tasks of Pages (running errands) combined with more unusual assignments (buying boxing tickets for a Member) provides an intimate look at the role of Pages in the institution. An eyewitness to a series of historic events, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historic “Day of Infamy” speech and Jeannette Rankin’s lone vote against World War II, Garrigan also describes a memorable visit to the White House to meet President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Garrigan’s interview demonstrates the importance of the Page program on a personal level and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the U.S. House of Representatives during the WWII era.
Myles (Scotty) Garrigan was born on September 9, 1923, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Mildred and Miles Garrigan. While a senior and president of his class at South River High School in New Jersey, Garrigan received a recommendation from local mayor and high school coach, John Fitzpatrick, to serve as a House Page. Appointed to his new position by New Jersey Representative William Halstead Sutphin, 17-year-old Garrigan reported to Washington for the start of the 77th Congress in January 1941. During his time as a House Page, Garrigan delivered messages to and from the House Floor and ran errands for Representatives. After graduating from the Capitol Page School in June of 1941, Garrigan remained in Washington, D.C., serving as the Republican Page overseer.
Garrigan balanced his new position with academic responsibilities, attending night school at George Washington University. As Page overseer, he witnessed “electrifying” moments of House history, such as the passage of a declaration of war against Japan after the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor. His undergraduate studies were interrupted in 1943 when the draft age was lowered to 18 and he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces—the forerunner of the modern U.S. Air Force.
After serving as an aviation cadet until 1945, Garrigan returned to Washington, D.C., where he resumed his studies, graduating from George Washington University in 1948. While pursuing a master’s degree at the Elliott School of International Affairs, at George Washington, he came back to the Hill in hopes of getting a job. With the help of Congressman James Auchincloss of New Jersey, he served as an elevator operator for six months before leaving school and becoming an officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. Garrigan later made animated, political TV commercials and worked as an account executive for an industrial film production company. Now retired, Garrigan currently resides in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Invitation to Become a House Page
Memories of an invitation to serve as a House Page.
Duties of a House Page
Description of the responsibilities of House Pages during the 1940s.
Life in a Boarding House
Description of rooming in a D.C. boarding house during the 1940s.
The Changing Republican Cloakroom
Discussion of the changing role of the House cloakrooms.
The House Floor on December 8, 1941
Recollections of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s "Day of Infamy" speech.
Patronage in the House
Memories of New Jersey Representatives William Sutphin and James C. Auchincloss, and of the role patronage played in the Page program.