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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.

Ivana and Hillary

unnamedFor many people who live and work inside the beltway the day after the election was a day of mourning and shock. To distract myself, after work I headed to the Library of Congress where I am fortunate to have a research office. It’s on the top floor of the Adams Building and provides a bird’s eye view of Capitol Hill. There is a church and steeple in the foreground and RFK Stadium in the distance.

As I settled in, I pulled a bound volume of Vanity Fair off my bookshelf. It was from 1992. The article I needed was in the April issue, but the May issue caught my eye. Plastered on the cover was Ivana Trump and a blaring headline “Ivana Be a Star! Ms. Trump’s Literary Debut.” And then in the lower right hand corner was a red banner with yet another headline. This one was about Hillary Clinton—“Will she get to the White House with Bill or without him?” Nearly a quarter century later, and after two failed presidential bids, we finally know the answer. No, Hillary Clinton will not get to the White House on her own. But who could have guessed in 1992 that in 2016 these two women would be connected by a presidential election – the ex-husband of Ivana would be running against Hillary Clinton for the highest office in the land. I kept reading.

These two profiles about two very different women were literally back-to-back. I started reading the Ivana article and was transported to her jet-setting life style, boyfriend at the time, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, who gave her a ten-karat-yellow-diamond ring from Tiffany, and later became her husband for nearly two years. The magazine cover talked about her debut novel, but all the article said about the book was that it sounded eerily similar to the author; it was about a Czechoslovakian born skier married to an American Tycoon, runs a hotel and goes through a long, drawn-out divorce (p. 130). The rest of the article was a profile of Ivana, her early life in Czechoslovakia, her past loves before Donald (and after), and her jet-setting life.

There were two things I found of particular interest; the first was this quote: “The most important thing in Ivana’s life is publicity,” says a New York social figure. “She’s exactly like Donald in that way. They live for publicity. It’s a drug for them” (p. 178). Donald Trump’s comfort in the spotlight and his adeptness at managing it to his advantage were seen throughout his presidential campaign. Trump was so effective at garnering media attention that his campaign did not need to spend the millions upon millions that presidential candidates typically spent on television advertising.

The other thing I found interesting was Ivana talking about her children and how they lived with her. Throughout the campaign, Trump was credited for raising three great children. Even Hillary gave him credit for that much, yet no one ever mentioned Ivana.

During the interview, writer Bob Colacello asked Ivana about accusations that she traveled too much and didn’t spend enough time with her three children. “’That’s the only thing that really upsets me terribly,’ she answered. ‘I spend all the time with them. The children are living with me … so I think I’m a terrific mother. I’m very proud of that.’ My mother is always around and my two nannies which are around—not that they could replace me, by no means. (p. 182).

Her three children are now grown and have been center-stage this political season with Ivanka shining above all and trying to ease the gaffes her father makes. At the time the article was published she was just ten and described as “tall and pretty and blonde and quick with the sarcasm.” (P. 190). When asked what Ivanka wanted to do when she grew up, she “smiled brightly, she answered, ‘The same as Mom.’

img_3086From the glitzy world of Ivana Trump I was transported to the politically savvy world of Hillary Clinton during Bill’s first run for the presidency. This article was entitled “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?” by Gail Sheehy. That headline reverberates true today despite being more than two decades old.

Sheehy writes “The most controversial figure of the election year so far has been a woman, Hillary Clinton, and she isn’t running for office. Or is she? Whether she loves the boy in Bill Clinton as much as the man or whether she is simply unwilling to forfeit her sixteen years’ investment in their political partnership, Hillary is determined to seize the national stage.” (p. 140).

The article goes on to describe how she headlined a luncheon fundraiser in Los Angeles and she left the audience wanting more. As “Hillary dazzled the audience … she said ‘We need to be against brain-dead politics wherever we find it!’ she thundered, looking fierce in a fire engine red suit. ‘We need to forge a new consensus about [our] new political direction … that doesn’t jerk us to the right, jerk us to the left, prey on our emotions, engender paranoia and insecurity … but instead moves us forward together.” (P. 142). I can hear her saying the same thing today. Well, maybe she’s more polished and would use a synonym for ‘jerk.’ But what that quote also demonstrates is Hillary’s consistent message and focus over the years.

When the Vanity Fair article was written, Hillary’s rejection of baking cookies was national news as was Gennifer Flowers. Yet despite those crises, Hillary triumphed and continued to impress those around her. Many talked about her running for president, and here we are. She finally did. How devastating this loss must be for her. The one thing this article drove home for me was that her sights have been on the presidency for much longer than I realized.

“’She wants to win as bad as he does.’ Is she tougher than he is? ‘I think so,’ laughs Carolyn Huber [long-time aide and confidante]. ‘She’s more clear about what she wants and the way she wants it done. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when Hillary set her mind to something she wanted to happen that it hasn’t happened.’” [P. 145]. It seems that time has come.

Who would have thought a Vanity Fair magazine from nearly 25 years ago would still have so much relevance today. So much for escaping the election.

Bob Colacello. “Ivana Czechs In,” Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 134-138, p. 178-190.

Gaily Sheehy. “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?,”Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 140-147, 212-217.

Another Anniversary

Millicent Fenwick CoverToday, September 16, marks the 24th anniversary of the passing of Millicent Fenwick. Earlier this month her nemesis, Phyllis Schlafly, passed away. The two women went head to during a televised national debate about the Equal Rights Amendment  (ERA) in 1976. At the time, Fenwick was a member of the GOP Platform Committee at the 1976 Republican Convention and Schlafly was the Stop ERA national chairwoman. Below is an excerpt from Millicent Fenwick: Her Way capturing the exchange between the pair:

“I think it is sad and a little comic that in a bicentennial year to be wondering about whether we ought to admit that 51%-52% of the Citizens of America are really citizens,” said Fenwick during the Schlafly debate. “When ERA started I thought oh sure, and I didn’t take it too seriously, it seemed so natural. I thought it was an oversight, but now as a result of all the opposition so cleverly orchestrated by my companion here, I am getting quire severe about it. We need the ERA because it is a statement that women are citizens.”

But as Schlafly pointed out, “The Majority of women in your state voted against the ERA … They know women are citizens and do no need ERA which will do all sorts of mischievous things like ban mother-daughter banquets in school and subject women to the draft because ERA requires that we treat men and women equally.”

The ERA Amendment did not pass, in large measure  due to Schlafly’s efforts opposing the measure.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Cabin John Ice-Cream Truck War

IMG_6070I had not been to Cabin John Regional Park since I read about a rash of car break-ins in the parking lot. But today we decided to go with a mission in mind. My son needed a hiking stick. His school’s theme for the month of August is camping and this month his take home project is to create and decorate a hiking stick. Of all the local parks, Cabin John, nestled in the woods, seemed to be the perfect place to play and find that perfect hiking stick. Within seconds we found one.

While I held the hiking stick, my son climbed and played. We heard the ice cream truck come and go. My son had never been to an ice cream truck so he does not yet associate that recognizable musical chime with ice cream even though we hear it every time we are at Cabin John Park.

Awhile later we were on the lower half of the playground, close to where the truck stops, when I heard that familiar sound. The children near my son were excited for ice cream. He looked at me quizzically. I took his hand, asked if he wanted ice-cream (yes), and then we rushed to get in line as there was only one family left in line by the time we decided to join.

My son looked at the pictures on the side of the truck and chose the blue shaved ice. As the ice cream driver went to prepare the shaved ice, a man in a maroon shirt seemingly came out of nowhere and whacked the side of the ice cream truck with a long iron rod. He hit it with such force I was taken aback and stepped back as I was worried about my son and just thankful that he wasn’t hit in the process. I’m not even sure if this man saw us or not, but he was only inches away. He started yelling something about having a permit for his ice cream truck and our driver apparently did not. Both men shouted at each other and both men called the police.

IMG_6073By now a crowd had gathered. Parents were curious about the police presence and children stood staring as many of them wanted ice cream, but sweets were no longer being served; just verbal jabs.

My ice-cream driver told me that I was a witness and he wanted me to talk to the police when they arrived and I agreed. It’s hard to say how long it took for the police to arrive, maybe 5-10 minutes, maybe less. But they arrived in force. There were multiple police cars and at least three officers.

They handcuffed the driver of the permitted truck for assault. One officer talked to him and took his statement while another officer took a statement from the other driver. At this point my son was tugging at me and wanted to leave. I didn’t blame him. I didn’t expect to get a serving of police officers the first time he ordered from an ice cream truck. I went up to one of the officers, said I was a witness and that the driver wanted me to give a statement, but my son wanted to leave. He took my statement. I described what happened, gave my driver’s license for identification purposes, and then my son decided he wanted to stay. So we continued to eat the shaved ice and play while parents asked me what happened and if I tweeted it out so they could retweet. I confessed to being somewhat illiterate when it came to social media. This is the best I could do.

At the end of the day, neither driver was arrested. The driver with the permit was allowed to leave and eventually the driver without the permit was also allowed to drive away. The police officer I spoke with said that many of the ice cream trucks don’t have permits. I for one had no idea a simple summer pleasure could become so complicated.

IMG_6074I feel for the driver with the permit, but at the same time do not condone that kind of violent outburst in an environment full of children. He made it very clear that trucks without permits are taking away his business. I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is? More enforcement? No more ice cream trucks? I for one don’t plan on buying ice-cream at Cabin John again anytime soon. As for my son, he apparently wasn’t traumatized because when we left he asked for more ice-cream.

 

Millicent Fenwick’s Birthday

Millicent Fenwick

February 25, 2015 – Today would have been Millicent Fenwick’s 115th birthday. And despite passing away more than twenty years ago she continues to live on. In the past few weeks, I’ve received three Fenwick related requests. The first was for permission to use a photo in the book of a young Millicent with her sister, Mary, and mother, Mary Picton Stevens Hammond, the latter of whom died on the Lusitania. The photo will be used in an exhibit opening this fall about New Jersey during the decade from 1910-1920. The exhibit will highlight the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans in 1915 and the photo will represent a New Jersey life lost in that tragedy.

The second inquiry came last week and it was about Fenwick’s self-pity quote, one of many memorable quotes attributed to Fenwick. And the third request was about giving a Lusitania related talk to commemorate the centennial of the Germans torpedoing the Lusitania which resulted in nearly 1,200 deaths, including Mary Hammond and 127 other Americans as well as passengers from more than 20 countries. For someone who has been deceased a long time both Millicent Fenwick and her mother are still getting a lot of traction.

For more about the Lusitania, see my blog post from May 7, 2013

https://sixdegreesofmillicent.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/the-lusitania/

Burlington County Republican Women

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Amanda and Grace

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s been ten years since Millicent Fenwick: Her Way was published. On the book tour I met many fascinating people and spoke at all sorts of incredible venues. This past weekend that experience came full circle when the Burlington County Republican Women invited me to speak at their Second Annual Tea.

State Senator Diane Allen

State Senator Diane Allen

The invitation came at the suggestion of New Jersey State Senator Diane Allen whom I met on the book tour when she received a public service award. All these years later she remembered and I had the pleasure of speaking at her home on the bank of the Delaware River where the tea was held. The rains had subsided and the sun was trying to peek through. The setting couldn’t have been more serene and the participants couldn’t have been more engaging. Some women brought their daughters and nieces and others brought their mothers. Among the youngest was 11-year-old Grace whose mother is a former state judge and 12-year-old Amanda who attended because she wants to be a writer.

Amy Schapiro and former State Senator Cathy Costa

Amy Schapiro and former State Senator Cathy Costa

On the other end of the spectrum was former Freeholder and former 7th District State Senator Cathy Costa who was full of stories about standing up to her male colleagues and who was the first Director of the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control. Other women in attendance included Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield and Delanco Township Mayor Kate Fitzpatrick, among several elected officials.

Given the recent passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg I was asked to speak about the 1982 Senate campaign in which Millicent Fenwick lost her first election at the age of 72 to political newcomer Lautenberg. Fenwick should have won, but she was her own worst enemy. She refused to spend money to counter her self-financed challenger and she refused to hit the campaign trail if Congress was in session. I could go on and on about the long list of reasons why Fenwick lost, but basically she did everything wrong, and didn’t listen to her advisors, compared to Lautenberg who did everything right from defining the issues to advertising. But the women in attendance didn’t need a campaign 101 since most of them have already had success at the ballot box. And it was encouraging to see so many young people in attendance, hopefully shaping a new generation of female elected officials.

Linda, Lisa, Sen. Allen, and Amy

Linda, Lisa, Sen. Allen, and Amy

A special thanks to Senator Allen for hosting and Lisa Conte and Linda Hughes for organizing!