AUGUSTA (AP) – Legislators from decades and even generations back swapped stories with their former colleagues and rubbed elbows with their present-day successors as they returned Thursday for a reunion day in the State House.

“The friends we make here are friends for life,” House Speaker John Richardson said as he formally greeted the former lawmakers for Welcome Back Day. The Brunswick Democrat said any successes claimed by present members “have their basis in what former members did before us.”

Among the guests was Emile Jacques, who represented the Lewiston area in the Maine House from 1955-60 and Senate from 1961-66. After a hiatus, he returned to serve in the House from 1973-80, making him one of the earliest and longest-serving former officials present Thursday.

Speaking in the House chamber, Jacques recalled the pre-term limits days when newly elected lawmakers were expected to keep quiet during debates and had to wait patiently for chairmanships.

Jacques recalled telling a leader he wanted to chair the Transportation Committee. The leader responded that the post was going to a more senior member, but added that “he was going to die anyway so you can take it over then,” Jacques said.

“It was a pleasure for me to be able to serve here and I learned an awful lot of things,” said Jacques.

Also speaking from the House rostrum from which he ruled the chamber longer than anyone else was Sen. John Martin of Eagle Lake.

Martin, a House fixture for three decades before winning election to the Senate, quipped that he always preferred the pace and atmosphere in the House.

“Frankly, the Senate’s a little boring,” said the Democrat.

What’s described as the largest gathering for a Welcome Back Day attended a luncheon in the Hall of Flags before present legislators resumed this session’s work.

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