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John Sexton

Education & Law

Charlie always used to say, "Play another octave of the piano." That was his phrase. So if you haven't reached this note, reach out to it. He lived that with us. You know, his house was at 212 Lincoln Road. I still remember his phone number: Ingersoll 2-8054. And we were welcome in his house, which was about four blocks from the school. He had no family. And we were welcome there. But you had to read the extra book that he had posted at the teachers room. That was the price of admission. And you might fall into a conversation, when you walked through the door, on that book; or he might have some Verdi opera on that he was discussing; or one of the kids might have just said, "I've never had Chinese food," so he'd be piling into his car to go to Chinatown. And it was always play another -- and he would take kids -- I never did this with him because I was so focused on debate -- but he would take kids, literally, around the world. And even though he wasn't a priest, he always, in Europe, he always traveled with a Roman collar. He always said, "You never have to wait on a line for a museum or a restaurant if you wear a Roman collar. So that's what I did with my girls -- my high school girls. Every one of those girls saw the 48 lower states, because we would take six weeks in the summer and drive around. Every one of them went down into the Grand Canyon. I mean, I've been in the Grand Canyon 18 times. So, I realized I had to do that with my daughter, right? So I'm with Katie -- she was about 11, so this is about five years ago, and we're climbing the Pyramid of Teotihuacan.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

But, interestingly, when I had arrived in Judge Leventhal's chambers, I had only applied for clerkships at the United States Supreme Court with seven Justices. I had not applied to Burger, and I had not applied to Rehnquist. And Judge Leventhal found this out, and he called me in, and he said, "Do you expect me to recommend you to the Supreme Court?" And I said, "Well, I'm hopeful that my work is good enough." He said, "Your work is fine. I'm very happy to recommend you on that basis." He said, "But your arrogance is not fine." He said, "How could anybody, one year out of law school, strike two Justices of the Supreme Court from a list of applications?" He said, "I insist that you apply for all of them, or I won't support your application." So, at that point, at his insistence, I applied to Rehnquist and to Burger. It's interesting because the Judge died. I became a Bazelon clerk. And Warren Burger never interviewed his law clerks before choosing them. He had a committee interview them, and they gave him a slate of eight names, and he chose four from the eight. And when I became a Bazelon clerk -- the committee had told me that I would be their top nominee. But, of course, when I interviewed with them I was a Leventhal clerk. When I became a Bazelon clerk, I called them up and I said, "You may as well cross me off the list." And they said, "Don't underestimate the Chief Justice. See what happens."
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

I thought, "Well, if I go to the AP, I'll never get anything to do, but if I go down to the UPI and ask them if I can work for nothing to learn the business " because I realized you got to go to a professional to really learn this business, " maybe they'll let me do it." So I went down, and I asked the bureau chief if I could work for nothing. He said, "You want to work for nothing, kid?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "When do you want to start?" I said, "Could I come in three days next week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday?" He said, "Sure. Come in. Come down at three o'clock," because I finished my work editing the paper by 2:00, and I could catch the train into Tokyo.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

It was all -- how do you say? -- serendipitous. I took this job with the UPI because I wanted to be a reporter. I wanted to be a journalist. You got responsibility right away at the UPI because there was nobody else to do it. That's why they offered me a job, six nights a week at $10 a night. I learned how to run a desk. I mean, somebody broke me in and taught me, but I learned how to run a desk, a wire desk, a war service desk, where copy just poured in and you had to rewrite it. You also had to cover Japan by telephone if anything happened. Then they sent me down to Saigon because somebody quit, and I was thrilled to go. I mean, to go down and to cover a war, wow! That was the big story, and you weren't afraid at first, you know.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Neil Sheehan: My advice would be to try to find a television station or a newspaper where they are going to get some good basic experience in their craft, because you need that. And then try to get yourself assigned to the biggest story you can get, even if it's dangerous, no matter what it is, a story that is going to get attention, where you are going to get attention. We were lucky in Vietnam, as journalists, in the sense that we could fulfill ourselves by printing the truth, and also, we got attention from other editors. They read your copy coming in over the wire. In those days, it was the wire, the foreign editors. So we got attention within the profession. So that would be my advice. Learn your craft, and then find the toughest story you can find, whether it be in this country or overseas. You got to, because that's the only way you can really get ahead in the profession. It's very competitive, and the way you get ahead is by getting the attention of people who are going to hire you, who see that you can perform in difficult situations. People hire known quantities. Organizations hire known quantities. They want to know, if they hire someone, "Will he perform?" or "Will she perform?" So that would be my advice to them.
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Alan Shepard

First American in Space

You take that initial attitude of believing you can do it, and you build a lot of confidence, because -- particularly in the simulators -- if you respond to two or three horrible emergencies during the course of a morning, and do that day in and day out for weeks and months, it's a tremendous confidence-builder. Some people could probably say it's brainwashing in its best form. But there is a total confidence at the time of launch, because of the initial attitude, and because of the training philosophies -- coping with contingencies.
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Alan Shepard

First American in Space

I think all of us certainly believed the statistics which said that probably 88% chance of mission success and maybe 96% chance of survival. And we were willing to take those odds. But we wanted to be sure that if there were any failures in the machine that the man was going to be there to take over. And to correct it. And I think that still is true of this business -- which is basically research and development -- that you probably spend more time in planning and training and designing for things to go wrong, and how you cope with them, than you do for things to go right.
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