Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

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.

Advertisements

The Honorable Marge Roukema

imagesAnother day, another passing. Today New Jersey lost former Congresswoman Marge Roukema who was 85 years-old. She was a Republican elected in 1980; the same year Ronald Reagan won the presidency. Her first term in office would be Millicent Fenwick’s last term in Congress, but neither women knew that at the time.

As a freshman, Roukema sought Fenwick’s sage advice. Back then Fenwick was known for the uncanny amount of time she spent on the House floor. What most didn’t realize was that her time was more calculated than her peers gave her credit for. That became clear to me when I interviewed Roukema. She relayed how Fenwick told her “You need to sit on the floor to get to know your colleagues. Get to know them, not only in committee, but on the floor when debates are going on. It is then you can learn to judge whose opinions you can trust, and whose opinions you must be skeptical of. Be able to evaluate them.”

“That was wonderful advice,” said Roukema. “The first year or so I spent a lot of time on the floor listening to debates . . . and got a sense of things. Not only the issues but a sense of the evaluation of the people that were presenting things and who was being superficial and political and who was being substantive and incisive. It was excellent advice. Of course, she [Fenwick] was always there. Third row on the aisle.”[i]

What I did not know until today was that Roukema was the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives, serving eleven terms from 1981 – 2003. Since 2003 New Jersey has not sent a woman to Congress, but all that has just changed. Last week, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat, was elected to the House. When she takes office in January she will be the first woman elected to Congress from New Jersey since Roukema retired more than a decade ago. It’s about time.

[i] Amy Schapiro, Millicent Fenwick: Her Way (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 153.

101 Great New Jersey Books

imagesThis year New Jersey is celebrating it’s 350th Anniversary. As part of that celebration, the New Jersey State Library, Rutgers Library, and the New Jersey Historical Commission developed a list of the 101 best New Jersey books and Millicent Fenwick: Her Way made the cut!

I’m in good company. Other authors on the list include Sylvia Nasar for her biography, A Beautiful Mind about John Forbes Nash, Jr.; David McCullough for his book 1776 shedding new light on the Revolutionary War; and Phillip Roth’s classic Goodbye, Columbus. More recent titles include Junot Diaz’s award winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her.

Here’s the full list of great New Jersey books:

101 Great New Jersey Books List

GENERAL HISTORY
1. Patricia Bonomi – The Lord Cornbury Scandal: the Politics of Reputation in British America
2. Charles Boyer – Old Inns and Taverns in West Jersey
3. John Cunningham – This Is New Jersey
4. Giles Wright – “Steal Away, Steal Away”: a Guide to the Underground Railroad in New Jersey
5. Graham Russell Hodges — Slavery and Freedom in the Rural North: African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1665-1865
6. Michael Immersa – Newark’s Little Italy: the Vanished First Ward
7. Nelson Johnson – Boardwalk Empire: the Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City
8. Robert Kurson – Shadow Divers: the True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
9. Marc Mappen – Jerseyana: the Underside of New Jersey History
10. Dermot Quinn – The Irish in New Jersey: Four Centuries of American Life

FICTION (SET IN NJ)
1. Mary Higgins Clark – On the Street Where You Live
2. Harlen Coben – Fade Away
3. Junot Diaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
4. Janet Evanovich – Four to Score
5. Richard Ford – The Bascombe Novels
6. Nathan Heard – Howard Street: a Novel
7. Curtis Lucas – Third Ward, Newark
8. Joyce Carol Oates (ed.) – New Jersey Noir
9. Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus
10. Joe Vallese & Alicia Beale – What’s Your Exit?: a Literary Detour Through New Jersey

CHILDREN & YOUNG ADULTS
1. Judy Blume – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
2. Eileen Cameron – G is for Garden State: a New Jersey Alphabet
3. Wende and Harry Devlin – Cranberry Thanksgiving
4. David Lubar – Dunk
5. Joyce McDonald – Swallowing Stones
6. Carol Plum-Ucci – The Body of Christopher Creed
7. Mary Pope Osborne – Revolutionary War on Wednesday
8. Ann Rinaldi – Time Enough for Drums
9. Gertrude Chandler Warner – The Boxcar Children: The Boardwalk Mystery
10. David Wiesner – Flotsam

SCIENCE, BUSINESS & NATURE
1. Thomas Belton – Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: From Cancer Alley to the New Garden State
2. Joanna Burger – A Naturalist Along the Jersey Shore
3. Jack Connor – Season at the Point: the Birds and Birders of Cape May
4. Ernest Freeberg – The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
5. Jon Gertner – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
6. Wheaton Lane – From Indian Trail to Iron Horse: Travel and Transportation in New Jersey, 1620-1860
7. John McPhee – The Pine Barrens
8. Robert Sullivan – The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of a City
9. Richard Veit – Digging New Jersey’s Past: Historical Archaeology in the Garden State
10. Peter Wacker & Paul Clemens – Land Use in Early New Jersey: a Historical Geography

POLITICS
1. Paul Clemens – The Uses of Abundance: a History of New Jersey’s Economy
2. Ovid Demaris – The Boardwalk Jungle
3. Steven Hart – The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway
4. Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure – The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption
5. Alan Karcher – New Jersey’s Multiple Municipal Madness
6. Duane Lockard – The New Jersey Governor: A Study in Political Power
7. Richard McCormick – New Jersey: From Colony to State, 1609-1789
8. Gerald Pomper – The Political State of New Jersey
9. Salmore & Salmore – New Jersey Politics and Government: the Suburbs Come of Age
10. John Wefing – The Life and Times of Richard J. Hughes: the Politics of Civility

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
1. Martin Duberman – Paul Robeson: A Biography
2. Gillan, Gillan and Giunta – Italian American Writers on New Jersey
3. Howard Greenfeld – Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life
4. Walter Isaacson – Einstein: His Life and Universe
5. S. Mitra Kalita – Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America
6. Sylvia Nasar – A Beautiful Mind: a Biography of John Forbes Nash,Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994
7. Amy Schapiro – Millicent Fenwick: Her Way
8. James Still – Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still
9. Patricia Tyson Stroud – The Man Who Had Been King: the American Exile of Napoleon’s Brother Joseph
10. Mary Walton – A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot

NEW JERSEY AT WAR
1. Michael S. Adelberg – The American Revolution in Monmouth County: The Theatre of Spoil and Destruction
2. Joseph Bilby – “Remember You Are Jerseymen!”: a Military History of New Jersey’s Troops in the Civil War
3. Joseph G. Bilby, ed. – New Jersey Goes to War: Biographies of 150 New Jerseyans Caught up in the Struggle of the Civil War
4. Kevin Coyne -Marching Home : to War and Back with the Men of One American Town
5. Mark Di Ionno – A Guide to New Jersey’s Revolutionary War Trail : for Families and History Buffs
6. David Hackett Fisher – Washington’s Crossing
7. William Gillette – Jersey Blue: Civil War Politics in New Jersey, 1854-1865
8. Arthur Lefkowitz – The Long Retreat: The Calamitous American Defense of New Jersey, 1776
9. Mark Lender – One State in Arms: a Short Military History of New Jersey
10. David McCullogh – 1776

ARTS & POETRY
1. Meredith Bzdak and Douglas Petersen – Public Sculpture in New Jersey : Monuments to Collective Identity
2. Walter Choroszewski – New Jersey, a photographic celebration
3. Alan Ginsburg – Howl
4. Robert P. Guter – Building by the Book: Pattern Book Architecture in New Jersey
5. Joyce Kilmer – Trees and Other Poems
6. Robert Pinsky – Jersey Rain
7. John R.Quinn – Fields of Sun and Grass: An Artist’s Journal of the New Jersey Meadowlands.
8. Gerald Stern – This Time: New and Selected Poems
9. Lynd Ward – Vertigo
10. Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass
11. William Carlos Williams – Paterson

REFERENCE
1. Joan Burstyn – Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women
2. The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage:10,000 BC to AD 2000, By Herbert C. Kraft.
3. Joseph Felcone – New Jersey Books. Vols. I & II.
4. Maxine Lurie & Marc Mappen – Encyclopedia of New Jersey
5. Maxine Lurie, Peter Wacker ( eds.) & Michael Siegel – Mapping New Jersey: An Evolving Landscape
6. Clement Price – Freedom Not Far Distant: a Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey
7. Helen Schwartz – The New Jersey House
8. Donald Sinclair – New Jersey Biographical Index: covering some 100,000 biographies and associated portraits in 237 New Jersey cyclopedias, histories, yearbooks, periodicals and other collective biographical sources published to about 1980
9. Skinder-Strauss Associates (pub.) – Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey
10. John Snyder – The Mapping of New Jersey: the Men and the Art

RECENTLY PUBLISHED
1. Peter Ames Carlin – Bruce
2. Junot Diaz – This is How You Lose Her
3. Mark Di Ionno – The Last Newspaperman
4. Charles Graeber – The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
5. George Kirsch – Six Guys from Hackensack: Coming of Age in the Real New Jersey
6. Cathy D. Knepper – Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six
7. Marc Mappen – Prohibition Gangsters: the Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation
8. Barksdale Maynard – Princeton, America’s Campus
9. Holly Metz – Killing the Poormaster: a Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression
10. Maxine Lurie and Richard Veit – New Jersey: A History of the Garden State

Remembering Frank Launtenberg

473px-Frank_Lautenberg,_official_portrait,_112th_portrait

Sen. Frank Lautenberg
1924 – 2013

My first memory of Frank Lautenberg dates back to high school. Mrs. Forsman’s senior honors history class went to Washington and we were going to meet with Senator Frank Lautenberg, our state senator. Around the same time, legislation passed in the wee hours of the night. An amendment tacked on to a bill sold Linden Airport for $1. My father, Jack Elliott, an aviation columnist was livid about the deal. Ironically, my father and Frank Lautenberg were born on the same day, same year – January 23, 1924 – in New Jersey. Despite this irony, my father was not a fan and he challenged me to ask Senator Lautenberg about the Linden Airport deal when I went to Washington. The exact details have faded from my memory, but at the time they were as clear as day. The bigger challenge was not remembering the facts, but gaining enough courage to ask a question. I was extremely shy.

My high school class arrived at Senator Lautenberg’s office and I got my first lesson on how Washington works. We didn’t meet with Senator Lautenberg; we met with a very young staffer. I was disappointed about not meeting the Senator, but it was much easier to ask the big question to someone not much older than me. And so I did what I didn’t even do in class, I raised my hand. I was called upon and asked the question. The staffer had not a clue about what I was talking about and  bumbled his way through an answer.

Fast forward, years later when I was writing my biography of Millicent Fenwick and Frank Lautenberg was still a senator.  He was first elected in 1982. It was his first campaign and his challenger was the popular grandmother in congress, Millicent Fenwick. The pair couldn’t have been more different. Both were wealthy, but Fenwick was frugal and Lautenberg wasn’t. He was willing to spend his personal war chest to defeat her and he did.

One of his arguments against Fenwick was her age. She was 72 and he was 58. Lautenberg said she would be too old to have staying power in the Senate, yet he proved his own theory wrong. Lautenberg served in the Senate for nearly thirty years, but not consecutively. In 2001, he retired, but it didn’t last long. In New Jersey scandal always rears it’s ugly head. It did so in 1982, creating a vacancy when Senator Harrison Williams resigned due to the Abscam scandal. He was convicted of bribery and conspiracy paving the way for Lautenberg’s first victory. In 2003, it was Senator Torricelli who got caught up in scandal, this time it related to illegal campaign contributions. Last minute, Torricelli pulled out of the Senate race and Lautenberg was recruited by the Democratic Party to run in Torricelli’s place. Lautenberg did and he won.

During his long career as a public servant, Lautenberg was an advocate for gun safety, transportation, public health and environmental issues. Despite his health, Lautenberg made it to the Senate floor in April to vote in favor of tougher gun control laws, and, specifically stricter background checks. The measure failed, but his vote was counted.

Although Lautenberg died today, June 3, attention isn’t being focused on his long career and many accomplishments, but rather the politics of his vacant seat and the balance of power in the Senate. Lautenberg was a Democrat, and Republican NJ Governor Chris Christie gets to appoint an interim successor. Speculation is already going viral on what Christie should do.

Regardless of who replaces Lautenberg, chances are they will not be a World War II vet. Lautenberg was the last remaining WWII veteran serving in the Senate. Like Lautenberg, my father is also a WWII veteran. Unlike, Lautenberg, my father is still with us.

You’re Invited

Be sure to join the New Jersey State Society for a cocktail reception featuring New Jersey authors this Saturday, September 24, 5-7 pm at the Elephant & Castle Restaurant, 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Stop by after the National Book Festival on the Mall and enjoy complimentary appetizers and one free drink ticket per guest. Savor NJ’s own “OktoberFish” on tap from Flying Fish Brewery.  Although there is no charge for this fun event, we do urge you to bring your checkbook and buy a book. You can get a head start on your holiday gifts and ensure that the NJ State Society does this again next year. Hope to see you Saturday!

The following New Jersey authors will be signing and selling their books, including me:

Amy Schapiro, Millicent Fenwick: Her Way;

Al Felzenberg, Governor Tom Kean: From the New Jersey State House to the 911 Commission;

Dr. Masood Khatamee, Doctor are You Listening?;

Dr. Maxine Lurie, Mapping New Jersey, Encyclopedia of New Jersey, and New Jersey Anthology;

George Worrell, On the Other Side of Style;

Tom Yezerski, Meadowlands  (children’s illustrated book featured at National Book Festival)

A New Jersey Anthology

Now that I’ve returned to Washington, Millicent Fenwick reappears. This time in book form.  I returned home to find a copy of “A New Jersey Anthology” waiting for me.  It’s a selection of chapters about New Jersey’s rich history from the Revolutionary War to Twentieth Century politics including a chapter about Millicent Fenwick, “The Conscience of Congress,” by yours truly.

The last chapter is about the ongoing Mount Laurel case focused on low-income housing. The case became mired in zoning issues, fair housing, and what some referred to as economic discrimination. I remember hearing about “Mount Laurel” and that the topic was always a spark for heated conversation, but now I know the roots of this battle.  Eventually “Mount Laurel” housing came to my hometown too, but not before New Jersey passed a Fair Housing Act in 1985.

My favorite chapter in the anthology is about the “Trial of the Century.” No, not O.J.  This is an anthology about New Jersey and in the garden state that is the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case tried in Flemington, New Jersey. Until last year you could watch a reenactment at the historic courthouse itself (and I did). The only difference is the ending. In real life Hauptmann was found guilty, and later executed, for the kidnapping and murder of baby Lindbergh. In the theater version, the audience turned jury decided. The day I went, Haumptmann was found not guilty. How times have changed.

While tickets to the play are no longer an option, in 1935 the trial was the hottest ticket in town and among those in the courthouse when Bruno Hauptmann testified was a 13-year-old boy, Nicholas Katzenbach. To find out how he ended up in the courtroom you’ll have to wait for my book to come out.