At 68 years old, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin is one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. First elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin now serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate.
His memories of being 25, however, might be classified as his more humble beginnings.
Durbin was a young father and husband—he had one young daughter, with another baby on the way. He was graduating from Georgetown Law School and had just accepted a job offer in then Lt. Governor Paul Simon’s office in Springfield.
And, as he’ll tell you himself, he had hardly any money to his name.
“I skipped my graduation ceremony,” Durbin recalls. “I needed to get on to payroll and get a paycheck so fast that I just skipped it and said send me the diploma in the mail.”
So, he packed up a U-Haul truck with his few belongings and his Newfoundland dog (the dog’s full name, for the record, was Johann Sebastian Black. Durbin says they called him Bassy, for short. He didn’t explain further.) and headed across the country to Springfield. His brother followed the U-Haul in Durbin’s old Volkswagon.
Durbin says he spent his last dime putting his wife and baby on a plane, so he spent the nights of this road trip in the back of the U-Haul with his brother and Bassy.
He thinks even the people who know him well now would be pretty surprised to hear how poor he was when he was 25.
Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ’s morning producer and reporter. Follow her @laurenchooljian.