Archive for the ‘millicent fenwick’ Category

A Grandson’s Memory

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Sam Reckford, Millicent Fenwick’s grandson, accepts her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame from former NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and CNN anchor Susan Hendricks. 

Sam Reckford, Millicent Fenwick’s grandson, recently accepted her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018. Yesterday his affectionate memories of his grandmother were published on north jersey.com. His article appears below.

Remembering my grandmother, Rep. Millicent Fenwick

Last week I accepted, on behalf of my grandmother, Millicent Fenwick, her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Grandma was a character. One might say that you couldn’t have made her up, but Garry Trudeau came remarkably close in his creation of Lacey Davenport.

Her style and personality were forged from an odd set of circumstances that would be impossible to replicate. She was born into great privilege, but had her mother ripped away from her when she was just four years old, with the sinking of the Lusitania.

She debuted before the King of Spain, but loathed society events.

She disobeyed her parents’ wishes by marrying a dashing aviator, but was soon abandoned by him, and left with two small children and few resources.

She struggled to get a job because she never finished high school, and was even turned away from selling stockings at Bonwit Teller. Of course, what the hiring officer at Bonwit’s didn’t appreciate was that Grandma was the living embodiment of the old maxim, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

When she was withdrawn from boarding school at 16 to live in Madrid – where her father was posted as U.S. ambassador – she gained the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and North Africa, read extensively and learn many languages.

Then fate – made possible by her social position – placed her at a dinner party next to Condé Nast at a time when he needed a junior editor at Vogue.

As a child, I largely knew my grandmother as the author of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette. She knew exactly how people ought to behave in all circumstances, and she dutifully recorded it, but made it plain that etiquette was principally about making people feel comfortable, not Victorian stuffiness.

The most immutable rule of all was how to treat people that are in a subservient position; it is far more important to treat them with respect than it is to act in a certain way in front of one’s peers and social superiors. That is how Grandma came to be loved by her staff and the shopkeepers in Bernardsville, yet not so much by the chairmen of powerful House committees and Cabinet secretaries, not to mention autocrats around the world.

Despite her aristocratic bearing, Grandma had a rapport with working people and those that society had neglected because she truly cared about them and their problems, and they recognized it.

In my office, I have a tapestry embroidered by six Ukrainian women jailed in a gulag in Moldavia, given to her in appreciation of her defense of human rights in the USSR. I don’t know how these unfortunate women found out about her struggle for what would become the Helsinki Accords in that pre-Internet age, but it is an inspiration to me every day to see this testament to what one caring and determined person can accomplish.

It was an honor to stand in for her and thank the people of New Jersey for this official recognition of her life of public service.

We can all aspire to follow her good example.

Sam Reckford is a resident of Millburn.

 

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Honeymoon Crash Makes News Again

In 1932, newlyweds Millicent and Hugh Fenwick embarked on a cross-country honeymoon in a biplane flown by Hugh. They planned to fly from New Jersey to San Francisco and then on to Alaska, but they never made it past Patco Airport in Pennsylvania. Richard McDonough, a local reporter in Pennsylvania who researches local history, came across Millicent Fenwick’s honeymoon crash when he was writing a series about Patco Airport which has long since closed. He contacted me when he was writing the story and shared this link to his article:  https://morethanthecurve.com/the-freedom-valley-chronicles-patco-airport-part-four/    which can also be found below. If you are interested in learning more about Fenwick’s life you can read Millicent Fenwick: Her Way, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary since it was published in March 2003. Time flies (no pun intended)!

The Freedom Valley Chronicles: Patco Airport – Part Four

Patco Airport was the scene of several crashes of airplanes through the years.  In some of these crashes, people were severely injured and a few people died.  Travel by aviation was not always as safe as it is today.

One of the airplane crashes – a crash that resulted in no injuries, thankfully – involved a woman who would later help lead efforts to change America for the better.

Millicent Hammond Fenwick was a newlywed.  It was June 14, 1932.  She and her husband, Hugh Fenwick, were on an “aero honeymoon”.  They planned to fly their airplane from New Jersey to San Francisco and then on to Alaska.

They stopped at Patco Airport on the cross-country trip.  According to a news article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 16, 1932, the couple was visiting Mr. Mark Hopkins, a member of their bridal party earlier that month.

When they took off to leave Plymouth Township, things went downhill.  Or, should I say “upside down.”  The airplane tipped over as Mr. Fenwick attempted take-off.

The Wilkes-Barre Record reported in a news article on June 15, 1932, that the plane “ground looped” as it was taking off from the airport.  “The ship had scarcely left the ground when its nose cropped causing it to turn over completely.”

The new bride and her husband survived the crash.  According to the news article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 16, 1932, both Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick were shaken after the incident.  Neither was injured.

The plane could not fly.  Their aero honeymoon was over.

According to Millicent Fenwick: Her Way by Ms. Amy Schapiro, through the assistance of a friend, the couple ended up spending their honeymoon in Bermuda.

The couple went on to live full lives.

For Mrs. Fenwick, what a full life it was.

Born into wealth, she suffered a number of tragedies through the years.  Her mother and father, Ogden Hammond and Mary Stevens Hammond, were on the Lusitania on May 7, 1915.  On that date, the German Empire sunk the British ship by torpedo.  A total of 1,198 people were murdered through this act of war.

Among those that died in the sinking of the Lusitania was the mother of Mrs. Fenwick.  According to a news article on May 20, 1982, in the Bernardsville News, the mother of Mrs. Fenwick was one of 114 Americans that perished through this attack.

Her father survived and later became the United States Ambassador to Spain.

Miss Millicent Hammond was a five-year-old girl when her mother died.

Beyond the airplane crash at Patco Airport, Mrs. Fenwick was involved in two additional airplane crashes, according to her grandson, Mr. Sam Reckford.  “In one situation, she survived the crash itself uninjured,” explained Mr. Reckford.  “She was hanging by some type of harness and when a rescuer released her, she fell and broke a bone.”

Her marriage to Mr. Fenwick did not last long.  The couple separated, according to the House of Representatives biography of Mrs. Fenwick, six years after getting married.  They divorced in 1945.  After the separation, she worked to support their two children as a single parent.

Mrs. Fenwick did not let any of these events stop her from serving her local community in Bernardsville, a borough in Somerset County, New Jersey.  She served as a member of the Borough Council and the local School Board.

She later was elected as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly.

In 1974, she was elected to serve the 5th District of New Jersey in the House of Representatives.

A statue of Millicent Fenwick greets people in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The statue was dedicated in October of 1995.

From the website of Mr. Bob Zorechak, REALTOR:

“An American fashion editor, politician and diplomat and a lifelong resident of Bernardsville, New Jersey. Millicent Fenwick was a larger than life four-term Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey serving during the Reagan years. She entered politics late in life and was renowned for her energy and colorful enthusiasm. She was regarded as a moderate and progressive within her party and was outspoken in favor of civil rights and the women’s movement.”

On May 6, 2018, the State of New Jersey will publicly honor Millicent Hammond Fenwick for her service to the people of the state and to the nation.  On that date, she will be formally inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

She is being honored for public service as a politician.

Today, you may not hear the term “public service” associated with the word “politician”.

For Mrs. Fenwick, political office was the means through which she sought to provide service to the public.

“My grandmother loved helping people,” explained Mr. Reckford.  “She saw government as the means to provide justice to all people.”

“She was very much a Republican in that she was fiscally conservative and believed each individual and the private sector should be given the opportunity to move forward,” stated Mr. Reckford.  “She believed in a level playing field that allowed everyone opportunity.”

What started her life in politics?

Hitler.  Adolf Hitler and his Nazi ideology.

“She became political during the years prior to the United States entering World War II,” stated Mr. Reckford.  “She detested Hitler and the Nazis as well as everything they stood for.”

“She saw that the Nazis had taken a great country – Germany – and changed its laws to provide justice for all into laws that created injustice for certain people,” Mr. Reckford continued.

Mrs. Fenwick was quoted in a news article in The Home News serving Central New Jersey on January 15, 1982:  “Hitler first attracted my attention to politics.  I was really horrified at what government could do.”

“My grandmother stood up against anti-Semitism – hatred of Jews – that was common at the time,” explained Mr. Reckford.  “She spoke against the America First Committee.”

The America First Committee was an anti-war movement that advocated for the United States to remain neutral between Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and their Axis allies versus the United Kingdom, France. Poland, the Netherlands, and other nations attacked by the Axis Powers.

Many public officials as well as ordinary folk supported the America First Committee.

Millicent Hammond Fenwick did not.

She publicly spoke out against the America First Committee.

Not everyone agreed with Mrs. Fenwick.

After participating in an anti-Nazi rally in the City of New York, she was attacked and beaten by two thugs according to a news article in The Courier-News of Bridgewater, New Jersey, dated September 17, 1992.  The assault on Mrs. Fenwick took place in the Yorkville section of Manhattan in the summer of 1941.

Think about it:  A 31 year-old woman assaulted in the City of New York because she stood for the civil rights of people.

The attack did not stop Mrs. Fenwick.

“It likely made her more determined than ever to seek justice for people,” stated Mr. Reckford, “She truly believed that the business of government is justice.”

On many occasions, Mrs. Fenwick made her position clear.  America should stand up for justice for all people.  Jews.  African-Americans.  All people.

She joined the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  In 1946, she became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“In New Jersey and on Capitol Hill, Millicent Fenwick brought a grace to public service that earned her moniker as the ‘Conscience of Congress’ by none other than Walter Cronkite,” shared Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey.

Even beyond the shores of our country, Mrs. Fenwick sought to help use the power of government to bring justice to all.

She helped lead efforts in the United States Congress to establish a national commission to help the peoples of Europe as they sought human rights.  As they sought freedom from communism.

First proposed by Mrs. Fenwick in 1975, what became known as the “Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe” was created through law in 1976.  This independent agency of the Federal government – also known as the “United States Helsinki Commission” – “promotes human rights, military security, and economic cooperation in 57 countries in Europe, Eurasia, and North America,” according to its Mission Statement.

An example of Mrs. Fenwick in action can be seen in the transcript of a hearing by the Commission on the assassination attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.  You can view this transcript of the hearing held on September 23, 1982, by clicking this link.

The Commission still functions today.

Not all of the policies advocated by Mrs. Fenwick as an elected official became law.

She was not universally supported nor did her views always carry the day.  Politics can be tough.  In her last campaign for office – to be a United States Senator from the State of New Jersey – Mrs. Fenwick lost the election.

One person mentioned that in her contacts with Mrs. Fenwick, she seemed to always be looking forward.  Mr. Reckford agreed with that assessment.  “She rarely focused on negative things.”

“I think most others treated her with respect – even if they disagreed with her – because she was very polite and respectful to most everyone,” explained Mr. Reckford.

While she made herself available to the news media through her public life and answered most every question posed by reporters, she did not appreciate some of the wording used to describe her.

Mrs. Fenwick did not like that many reporters would focus on her pipe smoking.  The Courier-News in a news article on September 20, 1992, reprinted a quote from Mrs. Fenwick from 1987:  “I was so hurt when I got to Congress.  All the media would say was ‘pipe-smoking grandmother.’  And I would say, ‘For God’s sake, hardworking grandmother, same number of syllables.’  But I couldn’t persuade them.”

She had taken up pipe smoking when her doctor told her to give up cigarettes because they were bad for her health.  She did not like being photographed with the pipe.  “She said she didn’t want to be a bad example to young people,” stated Mr. Reckford.

Mrs. Fenwick was raised in the Episcopalian faith and believed in God, according to Mr. Reckford.  “She didn’t discuss her faith much.  It was very personal to her,” he stated.

Her grandson explained that Mrs. Fenwick invoked a particular Biblical passage on a regular basis.

Micah 6:8.

One translation of a portion of Micah VI:8 is as follows:

“What does the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Her family was important to Mrs. Fenwick.  But there were occasions where service to people seemed to take precedence.

“As grandkids, we could see that she cared so much for the people she represented that we would sometimes joke – but not really joke – that we wanted to be constituents rather than grandchildren,” explained Mr. Reckford.

She loved politics. She loved government service. Public service.

Mrs. Fenwick died in 1992 at the age of 82 years.

Few would have realized on that Spring day in 1932 that the woman who walked away from a plane crash at Patco Airport in Plymouth Township would have lived such a full life serving the people.

Millicent Hammond Fenwick will be recognized for her public service as she enters the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018.

The statue of Millicent Fenwick with the trees in Fall colors in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

From the website of The Bernards Inn:

“Guests may be interested in visiting the life-size statue of Millicent Fenwick, located just across the street from the Inn at the train station. Her arms are open and welcoming, and it is as if she is gazing upon The Bernards Inn and the magnificent ballroom that bears her name.  The Bernards Inn proudly commemorates a legendary woman whose lifelong commitment to activism on behalf of consumers, minorities, and women’s rights helped to change the world.”

In Part Five, we’ll detail further aspects of Patco Airport.

The first photograph of the Millicent Hammond Fenwick statue is courtesy of Mr. Bob Zorechak, REALTOR.

The second photo of Millicent Hammond Fenwick is courtesy of the Library of Congress, 1975.

The second photograph of the Millicent Hammond Fenwick statue is courtesy of The Bernards Inn.

Do you have questions about local history?  A street name?  A building?

Your questions may be used in a future news article.

Contact Richard McDonough at freedomvalleychronicles@gmail.com.

© 2018 Richard McDonough

New Jersey Hall of Fame

njhof-logoWhile I am remembering Millicent Fenwick today, February 25, her birthday, I wanted to share news announced last month; she will be inducted into New Jersey’s Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018.

“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our state can bestow on someone,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “It’s a celebration of New Jersey that inspires the next generation of New Jersey leaders. Our inductees remind us how so many of our citizens have transformed the world, and how proud we should be of that fact as New Jerseyan.”

Fenwick will be in good company. Other inductees this year include Meryl Streep, The Four Seasons, Gloria Gaynor, Debbie Harry, Stevie Van Zandt, Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Writer Anna Quindlen, and former pitcher Al Leiter. Congrats to all the inductees, a complete list is below:

Arts and letters

Author Harlan Coben (Ridgewood)
Author and journalist Anna Quindlen (South Brunswick)

Enterprise

Real estate developer Jon F. Hanson (Far Hills)
Publisher Steve Forbes (Morristown)
Businessman Joe Buckelew (Manasquan)

Performing arts

Actress Meryl Streep (Summit)
Musician Stevie Van Zandt  (Middletown)
Musician Gloria Gaynor (Newark)
Musicians The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long (Newark)
Reality TV star Buddy Valastro (Hoboken)
Musician Debbie Harry (Hawthorne)

Public service

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly (West Orange)
Medicine  Clara Maass (East Orange)
Politician Millicent Fenwick (Bernardsville)

Sports

Baseball Al Leiter (Berkeley Township).
Track and field Mary Decker (Bunnvale)

There will also be an “unsung hero” inductee announced in April.

Silver Anniversary

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Last week, perhaps in remembrance of the victims of September 11, someone is Bernardsville adorned the Millicent Fenwick statue with a red, white, and blue scarf as captured in the photo above by Debbie Weisman for The Bernardsville News.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Millicent Fenwick passed away quietly in her Bernardsville home on September 16, 1992.  She died much as she lived; her way. She was 82-years-old and age was taking its toll on her frail body. She had emphysema, arterial disease and deteriorating eyesight.

Realizing that her body was failing her, there were three things she wanted to do before she died. She wanted to see a dear friend of hers, Jane Engelhard, widow of Charles W.Engelhard, Jr., a metal magnate worth millions who owned thoroughbreds, including the 1970 English Triple Crown Winner. He also knew Ian Fleming and the James Bond character, Goldfinger, is said to be based on Engelhard. Jane split her time between several homes, including one in neighboring Far Hills, NJ. She returned to New Jersey to pay a visit to Fenwick on the afternoon of September 15.

The day before, on September 14, Fenwick accomplished the second thing on her list; to donate a diamond and emerald ring which she inherited. The ring has been given to her cousin by Lord William Waldorf Astor and was appraised at $13,000. Fenwick wanted to donate the ring to the Newark Museum, but the director of the museum had been on vacation and didn’t return until September 14. Fenwick wasted no time in calling him that day and made arrangements to not only donate the ring, but to have the museum pick-up the ring that day and bring her a dated receipt. The Newark Museum later sold the ring at auction for $49,000 and created a jewelry section in the museum.

The last thing Fenwick wanted to do before she died, was to pay all her bills including her quarterly taxes. That was easier to accomplish. With the bills paid, the ring donated, and the visit with Jane Engelhard, Fenwick had accomplished everything on her list.

Next, on the evening of September 15, she called a registered nurse to come over and relieve her caregiver of two years. Fenwick knew that according to New Jersey law only a doctor or registered nurse could sign a death certificate. Her regular caregiver was a licensed practical nurse, not a registered nurse. In the predawn hours of Wednesday, September 16, with the registered nurse at her home, Fenwick passed away on her own terms. She lived a full life, but she was ready to leave this earth. For her epitaph she chose this passage from Micah “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”

 

Happy Birthday, Millicent

millicent-fenwickI cannot let today end without remembering Millicent Fenwick who was born on February 25, 1910 and passed away in 1992, yet she is still in the news. Earlier this week, in a letter to the editor published in the Madison Eagle, Judith Campbell wrote an open letter to her Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). In it she wrote:

“I have been a lifelong Democrat but always voted for the person, not necessarily the party. That included voting for (Republican) Millicent Fenwick. After Millicent, I remember the years I voted for your esteemed father, Peter Frelinghuysen, who also held this Congressional seat. They were diligent representatives of their constituents, reflecting the values of their voters and adding their ideas to legislation for the betterment of our towns and the country as a whole. I was never concerned about voting for them. You see, my values matched theirs in nearly every instance, and where we differed I was sure that they would negotiate legislation in a way to match the majority of their district. … Patriots such as your father and Millicent would be working hard to save our democracy. Where are you, Congressman Frelinghuysen? Will you help save the values of freedom and liberty that were the foundation of our country, or will you turn a blind eye to fascism in order to curry favor or, worst yet, wield power?”
http://www.newjerseyhills.com/madison_eagle/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letter-country-needs-the-real-frelinghuysen-back-again/article_98ba0546-bfba-5791-b800-68cf088f3658.html

For those of you interested in learning more about Millicent Fenwick, next weekend the Long Hill Library (917 Valley Road, Gillette, NJ) will be offering a program entitled “Secret Agents of Change: Famous Women in Morris County History” at noon on Saturday, March 4, 2017 to celebrate Women’s History Month. Women who will be featured include Geraldine Dodge, Helen Fenske, and Millicent Fenwick.

Happy Birthday, Millicent

56cf67328a0fe.imageA few hours ago, Millicent Fenwick’s hometown newspaper, The Bernardsville News, posted a photo of the Millicent Fenwick statue at the train startion in the heart of town entitled “Millicent Dressed for the Weather.” It was accompanied by this caption:

“We are glad to see someone is watching over our beloved former Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick whose statue graces the sidewalk near the Bernardsville Train Station. The scarf no doubt is just the ticket in this blustery, late winter weather. But the shoe? Beats us.”

IMG_8952What the newspaper probably didn’t realize is that today would have been Millicent Fenwick’s 106th birthday. Clearly someone with a sense of humor remembered the significance of February 25th. Why the shoes? Because Garry Trudeau famously depicted Lacey Davenport in a Doonsebury election year cartoon that read “Davenport: As indispensable as sensible shoes.” On the bottom it said “Paid for by her chums.” This Trudeau original hung proudly in Millicent Fenwick’s bathroom.

Although she passed away in 1992, she is not forgotten. Happy Birthday, Millicent!

 

 

 

The Lusitania – Fenwick Connection

Millicent and her mother

Millicent and her mother

To historians and trivia lovers May 7, 1915 is the day a German U-Boat torpedoed the Lusitania, a British luxury liner. To Millicent Fenwick it was the day she lost her mother. Mary Hammond was among the nearly 1,200 passengers and crew killed, including 128 Americans. While the sinking of the Lusitania had worldwide reverberations it altered the life of 5-year-old Millicent. To learn more, come join me this Saturday, June 20, 2015 at the Parsippany Library at 10 a.m. or the Warren Library at 2 p.m. to hear me speak about the “Lusitania: 100th Anniversary & its ties to a famous New Jersey Congresswoman”

If you plan to attend, please register as space is limited.
 
 
 
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – 10 AM
Parsippany Library
449 Halsey Rd,
Parsippany, NJ 07054
(973) 887-5150
Registration Recommended
http://www.libraryinsight.net/eventdetails.asp?jx=j3p&lmx=459811&v=3

 
 

Saturday, June 20, 2015 – 2 PM

Warren Township Library
42 Mountain Blvd.
Warren, NJ 07059
Phone: (908) 754-5554.
Registration Required (call or cut and paste this link to register)
http://somerset.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails.aspx?EventId=22301&libhttp://somerset.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails.aspx?EventId=22301&lib=1007=1007