Montpelier, Vermont -- January 6, 2012
The beginning of the Legislature is like the first day of school.
And if the Statehouse is like a place of learning....meet one of its teachers.
For thirty years, Margaret Lucenti has been working under the Golden Dome as a Committee Assistant, most recently with Senator Dick Sears in Judiciary. She gives him motherly advice tucked in the corner.
"She has a look, just this little smile and says 'Ahhh, don't get too upset with that, they're that way,'" says Senator Dick Sears.
But of course to know somebody, you need to know their past.
"Well I think she's the best thing that's happened in my life," her husband Sal says.
Sal and Margaret met in her hometown of Manchester New Hampshire...it was at the start of World War Two. She says it was love at first sight.
She was Irish, he was Italian, but her family wasn't enthused about her future husband.
"There was only consolation -- he was Catholic," she says.
They've been married for 68 years and raised 5 children.
"She's been a great wife and a great mother during my 20 years of service," says Sal.
Sal was in the Air Force, Margaret kept busy raising the children, but it wasn't until she was in her forties did her life change from housewife to activist.
"I saw no sense...I'm against war period, I think. You don't gain anything by it and I saw no reason why we should be over there [in Vietnam]," she says.
Interestingly enough, one son was an officer in Vietnam while another was a conscientious objector. The rest of her kids were against the war too. Margaret was so against it, she went down to Washington DC to demonstrate with her daughter. It was the early 70s.
"It was when our kids where in college, I became more radical about the idea of war," Lucenti says.
The war ended but her activism didn't. In 1973, Democratic governor Thomas Salmon appointed to be the first Human Rights Commissioner, she had no money, no staff -- just a kitchen table at her home where she did her work.
"But you need a human rights commission or people will take advantage, especially of blacks of the time," Lucenti says.
After convincing so many politicians to run for office, she took the plunge, running for Congress in the Democratic Primary. She came in second to a field of five men.
Critics said she was too liberal, too radical. Lucenti thinks she was ahead of her time.
But there is a big change -- Margaret is reluctantly retiring.
"My daughter keeps saying you can't go back you need to rest, you need to rest," Lucenti says.
Arthritis has taken it's toll on her hands, making it difficult to use a keyboard.
"She needs me to help out and I need her," Sal says.
Now Margaret is training her replacement.
Lucenti may not know what she's going to do, but there is a given: Margaret won't be sitting around the house and fading away.
"I'm kind of looking foward in doing something else to tell you the truth, I just have to think of what it is," Lucenti says.
A woman who's life is like a novel... finishing another chapter of her life.
PO Box 4508