Sitting in the House gallery in the state Capitol in Augusta doesn’t usually produce a big payoff, except perhaps for some lobbyists counting votes.
But a visit last month by a Texas couple won them an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City this week and an appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”
Marcine Webb, 86, and his wife, Nita Lou Webb, 81, of San Angelo, Texas, visited the State House in Augusta on June 7.
Maine’s was the 50th state capitol they have visited during their marriage.
When House Speaker Mark Eves announced their accomplishment, the state representatives jumped to their feet and cheered.
A Press Herald story about the couple’s unusual “bucket list” was picked up by The Associated Press and ran in newspapers and on news websites around the country. Four television networks also contacted the Webbs.
The Webbs avoid computers, so they initially didn’t know they had become a social media phenomenon.
“Someone told me, ‘Do you know that thing called Facebook? Well, you’re all over it,’ ” recalled Nita Lou Webb. “I am amazed that there is so much interest in what old people have to say when we live in a young age.”
She said she is unaware of anyone else who had visited all 50 state capitols. The couple’s children paid for the trip to Maine as a gift for their 65th wedding anniversary, which they will celebrate in August.
The couple’s quest to visit every state capitol took 35 years, beginning with a trip to Hawaii in 1978 and ending in Maine last month.
In terms of architecture, their favorite is the New Mexico Capitol, in Santa Fe, the only round state capitol. When viewed from above, the building resembles the Zia sun symbol.
Their least favorite? Louisiana’s.
The 34-story Art Deco building in Baton Rouge is the tallest capitol in the United States. And it still has the bullet holes in the walls where Gov. Huey Long was assassinated in 1935. But Marcine Webb said the building’s materials are cheap, with wood painted to look like marble.
He said Maine’s State House — designed by the renowned Boston architect Charles Bulfinch — is “medium,’ but he gives it high marks for its friendly atmosphere.
The Webbs said they admire capitols because they represent the democratic ideals of the nation.
“Most people don’t think about visiting the capitols,” Nita Lou Webb said. “It’s history. When you think about how much people worked in their lives building capitols for the people, not themselves, I think it’s wonderful.”
The couple will be appearing on Fallon’s show Thursday night.
Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: