Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Greg Beam

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 214


John “Jack” O’Brien was born in Boston, Massachusetts on June 9, 1930 to Helen (Reilly) and Frances J. O’Brien. His mother worked in a factory during the World War II, and his father was a postal worker. He grew up in South Boston, and then Mattapan in Dorchester, graduating from Hyde Park High School. He then enlisted in the Marines, in which he served for five years. After his service, he moved back to the Boston area, married Jadine (Raines) O’Brien, and worked for a few years in a Cambridge factory. While working at that factory, he met and became impressed with a young Senate candidate, John F. Kennedy. O’Brien and his wife moved to Maine in 1957, and got involved with the Maine Democratic Party. O’Brien went to work for the United States Postal Service, while his wife went to school, and eventually became a leader in the Maine Democratic Party. O’Brien served in the Maine State Legislature in 1970. Both he and his wife were active supporters of Kennedy, Muskie, as well as other Democratic candidates.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: growing up during World War II; Boston area politics; meeting John F. “Jack” Kennedy; Portland, Maine in the late 1950s; 1960 Maine Convention; unionization of public positions, Hatch Act; 1962 Muskie fundraiser in Portland; first impressions of Muskie; Milt and Millie Wheeler; Maine Legislature in the 1970s; lobbyists in Augusta in the 1970s; nominating Ed Muskie temporary chair as ‘United States Senator’ at the 1970 state convention; Muskie’s temper; Hathaway’s Vietnam dissent at the 1972 convention; Muskie’s reaction to Hathaway’s dissent; William Loeb and Manchester, New Hampshire incident; campaigning for Muskie; excitement over Muskie’s nomination for vice president; 1968 Chicago Convention; Casper Tevanian; Jim Oliver; Jadine O’Brien; losing Democratic seats in the 1960 election; Gerry Conley; Portland Model Cities program; racism in Maine; Dana Childs; changes in the Democratic Party; Maine Turnpike; and Muskie’s impact on the Democratic Party.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.