After Freshman year, I flew home to Milwaukee to visit my family. In the gate area at the San Francisco airport, I noticed an older gentleman with a bright red vest on. I thought, “God, I know I know this man from somewhere.” I didn’t hesitate to approach him and ask who he was, as was my nature. He said, “Lee Sherman Dreyfus, former Governor of the State of Wisconsin.” I responded, “J.P. Driessen, son of Joe Driessen and grandson of Sherburn Driessen.” He said, “Oh yes. I know your grandfather well. He’s a banker like your dad.” We chatted for a few moments, then boarded the plane.
He went to the back of the plane and I noticed nobody was sitting next to him. I boldly asked the flight attendant to ask him if he’d mind that I join him. He said, “Sure.” I sat down next to him and we talked for just about four hours straight about politics and life. I mentioned that my roommate was from Palau and he knew exactly where it was. I explained to him that my roommate’s father was elected President and then the CIA came in, killed a few people, imprisoned others, and put a different President in place because of his stance on rejecting a deal from the U.S. to put nuclear submarines there to guard against the threat of North Korea. My friend’s brother was put in jail for numerous years for having done nothing.
I also mentioned that my friend’s uncle was Sununu. He said he knew him very well and that if I wanted to take the initiative, I could put together a brief report on my roommate’s father and brother and he would be able to get it to the President’s desk. I thought, “No way. I’m a Freshman in college and writing a report for the President regarding global thermonuclear war like Matthew Broderick in “War Games”. It couldn’t get much more awesome.”
We had a lot of laughs after serious business and then debarked the plane. It was pre 9/11 and my father was able to meet right as I got off the plane. I told the former governor that my father had bumped into Walter Cronkite at a Super Bowl game once and they played a little stunt of his best friend, who had gone to the bathroom when my dad met Cronkite. He said, “Walter, would you put your arm around me when my friend returns and act as if you knew me your whole life?” He agreed and when my dad’s buddy saw them with their arms around each other, he just about crapped his pants. So I got off the plane with Dreyfus’ arm around my shoulder. My dad immediately recognized the governor with his trademark vest. He said to governor, “I see you’ve met my son, Governor.” Dreyfus responded, “Oh no. J.P. and I go way back. Great kid you have there.” We all chuckled and parted ways. I later found out that Lee Sherman Dreyfus was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason. Thank God for the Masons.