A class act never to be forgotten
August 28, 2008 · Updated 1:49 PM
No familiar, long white envelope came to me in my mailbox to inform me of the death of Lolly Durkan, like those I received from the Legislature when over a dozen of my friends from legislative days passed in the last year.
Lolly was a wife, not a member, and while I tried to get along with all the wives, she was special. Her husband was Sen. Martin J. Durkan, D-Issaquah, who died just a few years ago, one of the real brains of the Legislature, although his efforts to be elected governor came to naught. I called him Lurkin Durkan until he asked me to quit but he was one of my best sources. He told me a lot of stuff I couldnt print.
Like how he had contents of the wastebaskets from the governors office delivered to him by the night janitor so he could see what the governor was up to. Many of the men and women who worked in the Legislative Buildings were Durkan people. I never knew whether he paid them anything or not. I never asked.
Durkan, by the way, was the one whose office telephone was trapped by one of then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Grieves flunkies trapping being when it records just the numbers of calls in and out. Even long after hed discovered it, Durkan always turned a radio on when we talked in his office to screw up any bugs that might still be there. Anyway, when I read of Lolly s death at 83 the other day, I remembered a terrifying experience she had once that I wrote about. Durkan was out of town and Lolly was preparing to take a bath and go to bed.
She picked up some bath oil pearls, multi-colored marble-like balls of soap and oil, to drop into the tub of water. Only instead of dropping them in, so theyd dissolve, she decided to huny matters up a little. She squeezed them. The bath oil pearls burst in her hand and the mixture inside shot into both her eyes as if from a pressurized container. Her eyes hurt, but she could still see so she simply irrigated them and went to bed. At 3 a.m., she woke up in terrible pain, turned on the bed lamp and found out she was completely blind.
It was the most frightening thing that ever happened to me, she said afterward. She called for her children (there were seven young Durkans at home) and daughter Kathleen telephoned the doctor who took her to a hospital emergency ward and treated her eyes. She would probably be blind about a week, he estimated, from the effects of the strong detergent. And she was. Then one eye started getting better while the other got worse for awhile, but eventually sight returned to both eyes.
The big danger, even after recovering her sight, was what kind of damage may have been done to the eyeball itself. The mixture seared the eyeballs, her husband told me, just like a burn and the worry is about secondary infection. It was bad enough what happened to Lolly, who is an adult, said Durkan, what might it have done if one of the little ones had been burned like that? What would it do to a little youngsters eyes?
Bath oil pearls were banned from the Durkan household and he encouraged me to write about it and advise anyone with small children to do the same. He also said he was taking the leftover pearls to the consumer fraud division of the Attorney Generals office to see whether they should be allowed on the market at all.
Lolly, he said, may have been one of the lucky ones the next victim could stay blind. I dont remember what ever came of it. That was in 1971. The session was ending at the time, so I may have just forgotten to pursue it.
Now both of the Durkans are gone, a class act never to be forgotten, not by me, anyway.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.