Charles Marston

During his 35 years on Capitol Hill, most of which he spent in the House Press Gallery, Charles Marston assisted reporters in their coverage of Congress from routine committee hearings to historic events like the 1954 shooting in the House Chamber.

Featured Audio

"Welfare of the Press"

"Welfare of the Press"
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston recalls how he helped the press cover Congress.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded August 28, 2014 Deed of Gift

Abstract & Transcript

Following in the footsteps of an uncle who worked at the Capitol, Charles Marston accepted an entry-level position as an elevator operator for the U.S. Senate in the mid-1940s. In these two interviews Marston fondly recalls his first job on the Hill where he had the opportunity to meet Senators like Harry S. Truman who later went on to serve as President. Marston discusses how he moved to the Senate Press Gallery and then ultimately found a permanent spot as an assistant superintendent in the House Press Gallery.

During his more than three-decade career on the Hill, Marston facilitated the work of reporters covering the House. He recalls how as a liaison between Members and the press he focused on “getting information,” answering questions (about pending legislation, for example), and posting updates on a centrally-located bulletin board in the press gallery. Marston spent much of his tenure attending committee hearings where he distributed press releases and handled accommodations for the press. He recalls, in particular, hearings held by the Ways and Means and Science Committees. On occasion Marston also monitored floor proceedings. He provides a detailed, eye-witness account of the shooting that transpired in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954. Marston’s career spanned many technological changes which he discusses in this oral history. He speaks of how the press used telegraphs, teletype machines, and typewriters in the gallery when reporting on Congress. Marston also shares his memories of the correspondents who covered the House and how women and African Americans gradually integrated the predominantly white, male press corps.

Biography

Charles (Charlie) Franklin Marston was born in Culver City, California, on November 22, 1928, to Percival Franklin Marston and Catherine (Roeder) Marston. Before his first birthday he and his mother moved to Silver Spring, Maryland. As an only child, Marston was raised by his mother and grandmother. While attending local schools in Maryland, Marston worked part-time at a drug store, bowling alley, and gas station—all located in Silver Spring.

With his uncle employed at the Capitol, Marston found a job on the Senate side as an elevator operator during the mid-1940s. In this position he met many Senators, including Carl Hatch of New Mexico and future President Harry S. Truman. Harold Beckley, the superintendent of the Senate Press Gallery convinced Marston to leave his elevator post and take a temporary job as a messenger in his office. Marston later moved to the House Press Gallery when a permanent spot became available in 1948. From 1950 to 1953, Marston served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After his discharge he returned to his job at the House Press Gallery as an assistant superintendent. In this position Marston gathered data about Members, kept abreast of legislation, and attended committee hearings to assist the press in their coverage of the House. On March 1, 1954, Marston witnessed armed assailants fire gunshots from the public galleries onto the floor of the House Chamber wounding five Representatives. As he made his way from the chamber, he alerted his colleagues of the shooting, describing the corresponding scene in the press gallery as “sheer chaos” as reporters and staff gathered to document what had occurred on the House Floor.

After reaching his 35-year mark of service in the House, Marston retired in 1979. He went on to work as a bus driver for Prince George’s County Schools and for senior citizens in College Park, Maryland. Charles Marston passed away on December 10, 2015, at the age of 87.

Audio

Fond Memories of Working the Elevator

Fond Memories of Working the Elevator
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston explains why he enjoyed his work as an elevator operator.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded September 19, 2014 Deed of Gift

A Bottle of Coke

A Bottle of Coke
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston remembers a close encounter with President Harry S. Truman.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded August 28, 2014 Deed of Gift

"Welfare of the Press"

"Welfare of the Press"
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston recalls how he helped the press cover Congress.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded August 28, 2014 Deed of Gift

Fireplaces in the Press Gallery

Fireplaces in the Press Gallery
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston describes the fireplaces used in the House Press Gallery during his tenure on the Hill.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded September 19, 2014 Deed of Gift

Inside the Cloakroom

Inside the Cloakroom
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston shares his memories of the Republican Cloakroom and the popular food service.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded September 19, 2014 Deed of Gift

Teletyping in the House Press Gallery

Teletyping in the House Press Gallery
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston describes how reporters used teletype machines when he worked in the House Press Gallery.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded August 28, 2014 Deed of Gift

An Unforgettable Day

An Unforgettable Day
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Charles Marston recalls how he warned others about the violence in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954.
Charles Marston, Assistant Superintendent, House Press Gallery
Interview recorded August 28, 2014 Deed of Gift

Images & Artifacts

On the Job
<i>On the Job</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_marston_booth.xml
Seated on the far left with his two colleagues, Charles Marston reviewed a document with his colleagues in the House Press Gallery.
Image courtesy of Charles Marston, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
In the House Chamber
<i>In the House Chamber</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_marston_chamber.xml
Charles Marston, standing in the middle of the aisle towards the bottom row, joined reporters and other congressional staff in the press section of the House Chamber gallery.
Image courtesy of Charles Marston, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
House Press Gallery
<i>House Press Gallery</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_marston_gallery.xml
Charles Marston, left, sat with Diosdado Yap, editor of Know Your Congress—a periodical guide to sessions of Congress—in the House Press Gallery in 1980.
Image courtesy of Charles Marston, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
House Press Gallery Staff
<i>House Press Gallery Staff</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_west_staff.xml
The House Press Gallery staff posed for a picture in January 1960. From left to right: Charles Marston, Richard Embly (Superintendent), Benjamin C. West, and Wilbur DePerini.
Image courtesy of Benjamin C. West, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
President Richard Nixon Impeachment Hearings
<i>President Richard Nixon Impeachment Hearings</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_marston_gallerygroup.xml
Marston, right, hands journalists "statements of information" from the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of President Richard Nixon.
Image courtesy of Charles Marston, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
With Benjamin C. West
<i>With Benjamin C. West</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_marston_west.xml
Charles Marston, left, shared a celebratory moment with House Press Gallery Superintendent Benjamin C. West.
Image courtesy of Charles Marston, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives