Henry Munson's First Job after Rutgers
I got a job on Wall Street in a Municipal Bond House, Barr Bros at 40 Wall Street on the 55th floor. I was paid $16 per week. I'm afraid I didn't like it but I did work hard as the money was essential.
I also became very active politically in the Republican Party in Garden City. A friend of my sister Marian was Nate Bennett. He said"the Republican Recruits (Young Republicans) need to be revitalized and you can do it." Well I plunged into it with enthusiasm and soon became President of the Garden City Republican Recruits. We gained hundreds of new members and held meetings in the best houses in Garden City. We organized successful dances, forums and plays. These attracted a lot of attention and publicity even in the NYC newspapers.
Meanwhile at Barr Bros, being in Municipal Bonds, I was asked to attend various luncheons where city and state officials would be present. At several of these I met former NYS Senator Joseph Clark Baldwin III. I recognized the name as his fight to investigate Mayor Jimmy Walker and Tammany Hall had been widely publicized. It resulted in the election of a Fusion Mayor - La Guardia. The Senator was also a member of a socially prominent family and was a Liberal Republican and I liked him. We had lunch several times and then he said, "With interests like yours you don't belong in Wall St, you should be in my business, in Public Relations. Should you become interested, call me."
My leadership of the Republican Recruits continued to succeed. My brother Binks still remembers our Recruit Song. As a reward for my good work, the Party leaders gave me the honor of escorting our 1936 candidate for President, Gov Alf Landon,from one meeting to a big dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Well I was shocked and outraged by him and his speech - so much so that I suddenly realized that I was a mass of inherited or borrowed opinions and that I knew nothing first hand on which to base actual opinions.
I then worked furiously to get caught up on the facts of labor unions, the plight of farmers and coal miners and the 12 million unemployed. The more I studied the more I admired President Roosevelt. To make a long story short, I ended up voting for President Roosevelt and resigned as Pres of the Recruits. I wrote a series of columns for the local Garden City newspaper expressing my new views. Well Garden City was and probably still is 90% Republican and very conservative and I was most unpopular.
At Barr Bros trouble was brewing. I would work as a trainee for a few months in one Dept and then in another. Well then I was in the Cashier's Dept and I liked all the men there. They were very competent but very underpaid. They showed me a letter they had all signed asking the Senior Partner to look into the question of their remuneration. They said they'd understand if I didn't sign because I was not really a regular member of the Cashier's Dept, but it would make it unanimous if I did.
Well I was convinced they were right. One of the best of them had five children and only made $26 per week.They thought their immediate boss , the head of the Cashier's Dept was not telling the Senior Partner how little they were making. There were no threats, just an appeal for more adequate pay.
Well I signed it. Next morning early I was called in to see the Senior Partner. He said, "Well Henry, we've decided that there isn't enough future for you to advance here and so we are terminating our association." They gave me a month's pay but respectfully asked me to leave within a half hour! Because of my political activity and my shocking them by voting for Pres Roosevelt they assumed I had organized the whole letter and that I was a subversive element!
I immediately telephoned Sen Joseph Clark Baldwin; we had lunch and he asked me to come to work for him at $100 per week starting in six weeks. My Uncle Henry Lee arranged for me to go to Cuba on a freighter. I was the only passenger and had to pay only $1 per day. It lasted two or three weeks and it was a thrill.
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