Henry's recollections of his friend senator Joe Baldwin
Former Senator (N.Y.S.) Joseph Clark Baldwin III
In NYC's old Board of Alderman, Joe was the only Republican member with 94 Tammany Democrats. They joked that he held his party caucuses in a phone booth. He led the fight to get NY State to investigate the very rotten administration of Mayor Jimmy Walker. The Seabury Investigation resulted and a Fusion Mayor - La Guardia was elected and a new NYC charter was approved: Joe was well publicized for his role. I remember seeing streamer headliner about him in the NY Times years before I met him. He had a great sense of humor and it was always more fun where he was.
After I joined him in his Public Relations business in 1937, I was campaign manager to elect him as a member of the New City Council. It was a Manhattan wide campaign and I got to know the city in a new dimension. From the famous Father Devine in Harlem to the Lower East Side. It was fabulous - all these people of all kinds and races and I never felt more alive. It was successful and we set up an office in the basement of City Hall. We had two full time volunteer workers in the office. One was a granddaughter of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, Sarah Alden Derby and the other was Sumner Gerard, Jr. David Rockefeller was then working as Mayor La Guardia's secretary.
The City Hall is a beautiful building and the City Council has its own chamber there. A friend of mine, Bobby Straus was also elected to the Council. One day he took me aside and said "Joe makes me mad" he said. "I work for weeks on a bill and Joe just walks in and right away he puts his finger on the crucial point. Joe did have that quality of knowing the jugular of most issues. It is a quality that has always eluded Claiborne Pell and also it seems Walter Mondale even though he is a Norwegian. He told about a meeting when a Lower East Side politician introduced him as Alderman Joseph Clark Baldwin the "Toid." Joe couldn't resist saying that since his father had died, he had dropped the "Toid."
Joe and his wife would have "At Homes" every other Thursday evenings. Much of NY Society turned out as well as visiting celebrities. One time Walker Buckner said "Someone told me that Winston Churchill was in NY but I knew he couldn't be or he would have been at Joe's "At Home" last Thursday. Churchill called Joe "Horatio" at the Bridge because of his lonely but successful fight to clean up NYC. At the same election Joe was elected as a Delegate to the 1938 Constitutional Convention in 1938. I managed a campaign to reelect him to the Council and later to elect and reelect him to Congress where I served as his Congressional assistant. He was very astute although extravagant until WW II. He was a great friend and was as long as he lived which was until 30 years ago. I was an usher at his funeral. His wife was Marthe Guillon Verne, a grand niece of Jules Verne, and they had four children. There wasn't much money left but the Taylor family - old friends of the Baldwins arranged for a lifetime income of $250- per month for Marthe.
I asked what was her biggest need and she said "it's for Steve's education, I don't see how I can do it". Steve was their youngest child. I asked how much she would need for it and she said at least $1,700-. So I went to Ronnie Tree and he agreed to sign a letter, if I would write it, to a couple of dozen rich friends and over $2,000- came in and Marthe was very grateful.
Later when I was National Director of "Recordings For The Blind" I got Marthe a job there and she loved it and they loved her. The last time I heard of her she was still working there.
Joe Baldwin often came to Cragsmoor and loved it. His brother Sandy did too and Dad liked him because he loved croquet as did Dad. Dad was also called "Boom Boom" I guess he tried to get Bink's attention as a baby by saying boom boom boom. Any way it stands. Dad and Joe Baldwin were both good at writing poems and limericks. I still have a lot of their odes. I remember one that Joe wrote starting out "Who made a bum out of Boom Boom" and Dad would come back with a good one too.
Dad used to love croquet and he and Alex, Capt. Larsen and Dadahad some stormy games first on the Lee Void court and later on ours.
Most weekends I would invite one, two or more friends to Cragsmoor for the weekend but only if they'd agreed to help clear fields or paint, etc. One time there were 5 of us and including Joe Baldwin and I decided to burn off the field above Five Oaks and below the Upper Prod. We planned it carefully to minimize spreading and stationed ourselves on all sides. The fire got going well and no problems except there was a hell of a lot of smoke (I can remember Dada doing the same thing).
Suddenly a strange car drove up so I went to see who it was. He introduced himself as the Assistant Game Warden Lloyd Greer. He said "I saw all the smoke and wanted to see if you needed help and to see your fire permit." Well I didn't know then that that was needed. Joe Baldwin came up and introduced himself. Lloyd said "Well, as a Senator you should know the law better than others'."
Anyway we became good friends and I had him build a new gate on #52, the deck around the pool and a new porch for the Upper House. When I last visited John Bradley's place at a Lake Awosting there was Lloyd looking great and L. working full time for John.
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