The other night I was discussing with my friend Leon about people were extremely committed to causes.
Leon was for many years in the furniture business. I asked him if he had known a man named Sam Tarshis?
He thought for a moment then smiled and said, "That is a name out of the past. I bought a line of furniture from Sam."
I then realized how long ago I knew him.
In the late 1940's Sam Tarshis used to come to Walla Walla as a fervent supporter of the United Jewish Appeal. He would call and request a meeting at the synagogue and a few devoted members would show up.
The message was always that no money was to be collected but everybody knew enough to bring their checkbooks.
There was always an inspirational talk. This one I remember in particular.
After defeating several Arab armies with few arms and shear willpower, Israel had declared itself a nation.
It was urgent that the fledgling government be accorded official recognition by the powers of the world. Russia immediately recognized Israel as defacto the new nation.
The U.S. dependent on Arab oil was not so sure.
Mr. Tarshis received a call from contacts in Washington, D. C. charging him with the task of breaking a deadlock in the senate by delivering physically and with a positive vote the senator from the state of Washington, Harry P. Cain.
Senator Cain was speaker at an American Legion picnic at a park in a small suburb of Tacoma.
Sam quickly drove there and found the Senator who had finished his speech and had already made several visits to the beer keg and was just a bit tipsy.
Not to be held back Sam pulled him away from swapping war stories with his World War II buddies and began to explain the seriousness of his visit.
Senator, you are devoted to stopping the Soviet Union from spreading Communism throughout the world. Do you realize that Moscow has recognized the new government of Israel and the U. S. has not!
Moscow has tentacles now in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq and the premier of Iran has announced that he will make a pact with Russia on oil. Do you want to see a nation that should be pro America be sucked into the Communist orbit?
Of course there was a demurer that his staff would have to gather information but Sam insisted there was no time the vote would be taken in a matter of hours.
Sam then offered this solution. He asked if there was someone whose advise he trusted.
The only one who came to mind was Louis B. Mayer the head of Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie studios. Cain had met him in the course of Senate anti communist hearings. He was Jewish and his anti communist feelings were indisputable.
Long before the days of cell phones Sam commandeered the only phone booth available at the park. Firmly holding the arm of his charge who was repeatedly being summoned back for another round by his buddies he dialed Washington and disclosed his problem.
He was told to hang up and stand by. The Country Western band played loudly in the back round while a couple of dozen off key voices tried to harmonize with the vocalist.
The senator tried to shake himself loose and rejoin the crowd but at that point the phone in the booth rang.
Sam handed the phone over saying Mr. Mayer would like to talk to you.
After a short conversation Senator Cain said I must get back to Washington and vote for the recognition of Israel!
Sam threw him into the car and raced to the airport insuring that the man was on the first connection to Washington as a VIP.
Actually, recognition was secured by two votes but it is always important to have a spare.
Harry Cain was defeated in the next election by Warren Magnusen, also a good friend to Israel.
The Jewish community never forgot Harry Cain. He was often a requested speaker at Jewish functions. For a fee of course.