House Spouse

During her 24 years in Congress, Pat Schroeder was always quick with a quip. But as Confessions of a Political Spouse makes clear, Jim Schroeder was much more than Pat’s straight man during their 47 years of marriage. The book, which grew out of a journal Jim started keeping after he retired in 2001, includes observations that “are hopefully relevant for two-career families,” but also of plenty interest to anyone interested in Colorado.

In Confessions, Jim recalls how he met Pat Scott at Harvard Law School during their first week on campus; reveals why Pat became the 1972 candidate for Colorado’s First Congressional District even though he’d already run for a state representative slot two years before; tells how he started the Dennis Thatcher Society, a very exclusive club for men with powerful political wives; and recalls how he first heard that Pat might be running for president while he was visiting his law firm’s Bangkok office in 1987. “Pat, it’s still up to you, but I think you can do it, and should do it,” he wrote in a memo to his wife. In the end, Pat decided against it — and after she announced that decision in Civic Center Park, she put her head on her husband’s shoulder and cried.

While that image has followed Pat to this day, Jim offers a more telling detail. Once when he was scrounging through Pat’s purse, he came up with a business card that had a balloon delivery company on one side and Shimon Peres’s home number on the other. “A small thing — a calling card with two important numbers — said a great deal about Pat Schroeder,” he notes. “A sense of humor, fun, and the importance of family: keep Joe’s card handy. A desire to work for peace and justice in the Middle East: keep Shimon’s number available. Tender and tough Pat Schroeder.”

Count on Jim Schroeder to be a little tender and tough himself when he speaks about his book at noon today at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. The event is free; for more information, go to
Wed., Sept. 30, noon, 2009

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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