THE CAPITAL: Putter with Profit

In 1945, when the Washington housing situation was broom-closet tight, Texas' loud-mouthed Senator W. Lee ("Pappy") O'Daniel bought the four-story apartment building at 115 2nd St., N.E. for $52,500, and started eviction proceedings against the 14 families who occupied it. He needed all 40 rooms for his family, he claimed. "We're not used to being fenced in down in Texas," Pappy explained without blushing. "Besides, we want some place to put a cookstove." The 14 families had to leave.

Pappy went to work. In his spare time, he donned overalls and a dirty...

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