STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The late NBC newsman Tim Russert was passionately devoted to another team that was often frustrated. He followed the Buffalo Bills, the pro football team in the city where he grew up.
Russert will be remembered today at a funeral service in Washington. Amid his many interviews with politicians, Tim Russert also paused to interview a fellow man from Buffalo. He did it for StoryCorps, our project that captures the stories of everyday Americans.
In this case, the interview subject was James T. Malloy, once doorkeeper of the U.S. House of Representatives, and, before that, a resident of Russert's home city.
Mr. TIM RUSSERT (Journalist): Jimmy, tell me how it all started.
Mr. JAMES T. MALLOY (Former Doorkeeper, United States House of Representatives): Well, I thought everybody's father was a policeman or fireman.
Mr. RUSSERT: What was your dad?
Mr. MALLOY: He was - my father was a fireman, worked in the same firehouse for 37 years, down in what they call the old First Ward, the Irish neighborhood, near the waterfront - truck eight, engine eight.
Mr. RUSSERT: Did your job have a second job occasionally?
Mr. MALLOY: Oh, yeah, many second jobs. There weren't many people that had one job.
Mr. RUSSERT: We call it the second front.
Mr. MALLOY: The second front. You got it.
Mr. RUSSERT: Now when your dad was off working, he probably couldn't go to some of the events at school and some other things.
Mr. MALLOY: Very true, yeah. I went to a local high school in south Buffalo. I was playing ball one day over at Caz Park, and I looked up, and there was the hook and ladder, truck eight, which my father was the first driver. And, you know…
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. RUSSERT: It just so happened.
Mr. MALLOY: He just happened to be at Caz Park, where the ball diamond was. You know, and you grew in that same atmosphere, so you understand it, you know.
Mr. RUSSERT: So you came to Washington, and you're the doorkeeper of the House of Representatives.
Mr. MALLOY: Yeah. It was a big deal.
Mr. RUSSERT: What was it like the first time you walked down that aisle and said: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States.
Mr. MALLOY: The first one was President Gerry Ford. You know, I was perspiring and everything. I mean, I was only in the job a short period of time, about three or four weeks.
Mr. RUSSERT: What did your mom and dad say when they saw their son…
Mr. MALLOY: My father never made a big deal of anything, but my mother was just - oh, she just loved it. She could get any conversation turned to that, you know.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. RUSSERT: Well, we had, at NBC, Tom Brokaw would be anchoring, and I would send Tom little notes, I'd say okay, Jimmy's about to introduce the president of the United States. Let's lay it on tonight. And Tom would say: You're about to hear the voice of James T. Malloy, the proud son of Catherine Malloy(ph) of - was it 106 Bloomfield?
Mr. MALLOY: Oh you've got it, you're good. Yeah.
Mr. RUSSERT: And finally, the last time, your last hoorah, he said: We're about to hear the voice of James T. Malloy, an extraordinary man, a gifted firefighter, a man who studied the law - I would say in every sense of the word a true renaissance man.
Mr. MALLOY: Well, when all this would go on, you know, it played in all the local saloons in south Buffalo and in all the firehouses, and they would be watching this thing. And fireman would turn to the other, and he said what the hell did he - what did he call him? And he said: He called him a reservoir man or something.
So they later found out, after looking it up, that it was kind of compliment, you know.
Mr. RUSSERT: It was indeed, yeah. Now you left the doorkeeper position when?
Mr. MALLOY: In '94.
Mr. RUSSERT: When Newt Gingrich, the Republican…
Mr. MALLOY: With Newt Gingrich, they abolished the doorkeeper. My last official act was to introduce Newt Gingrich as the speaker, then I raced down, filed my papers.
Mr. RUSSERT: So you retired?
Mr. MALLOY: I retired, yeah.
Mr. RUSSERT: Before we go, the best way I ever described you, James T. Malloy, was a good man who knew everybody and was always proud of taking care of his own.
Mr. MALLOY: Well, I'll accept that. I like that. Again, you always look back to where you started from, where you started from and where I started from. You know, and Washington's a great place.
Mr. RUSSERT: But it's no south Buffalo.
Mr. MALLOY: No, it's no south Buffalo.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. RUSSERT: Amen.
Mr. MALLOY: Thank you.
Mr. RUSSERT: James T. Malloy, thank you very much.
Mr. MALLOY: Thank you, Tim.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: Mr. Malloy spoke with the late Tim Russert for our StoryCorps project. And next month's StoryCorps will be conducting interviews in Buffalo, New York.