Harry Reid on Searchlight and a Hardscrabble Upbringing

Question: To what do you credit your journey out of Searchlight, NV?

Harry Reid: First of all, I had some wonderful teachers, mentors. In elementary school I had a woman by the name of Mrs. Pickert, who taught me how to read and loved to read. I’ve been a reader ever since then. In high school, I also had some wonderful mentors--a government teacher by the name of O’Callahan, who taught me how to fight, box. He and I served as governor and lieutenant governor together. We ran independently, but we certainly worked as a team. Mr. Walker, who was a Spanish teacher. People were very good to me. One of the things I’ve tried to do in public life is to try to make it so that Harry Reids of the future can succeed. America is a wonderful country. I tell young people that I visit with that if I can make it, anyone can. That’s what I want to be able to explain to people and I try to do in this book. No excuses. We can all make it. The only thing I worked toward is trying to have it so that there are fewer hoops to jump through. I think I had to jump through some hoops that maybe they shouldn’t have to jump through.

Question: Would it be harder for someone today to replicate your journey?

Harry Reid: I don’t want to say, “poor me,” but things are a little better than they used to be. Even from Searchlight, they have buses that take kids to school in Boulder City. I didn’t have that luxury. I wanted to go to high school. I figured out a way to get there myself. Much of the time, I hitchhiked back and forth. Health care was really awful in those days. It’s not great now, but at least you can go to the doctor when you’re sick. We couldn’t do that. Education is better. Searchlight doesn’t have one teacher teaching all eight grades. We still don’t have many kids going to school there, but we have a team of teachers. Things are better than they used to be, but they’re not as good as they should be.

The Nevada senator on his hardscrabble upbringing.

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less