Newport, Wall Street, the Gilded Age, and its Collapse! 11-28-06

Newport, Wall Street, the Gilded Age and its Collapse!


Richard J. Garfunkel

November 28, 2006


It is not a long drive to Newport from, Tarrytown New York. One goes east on the Cross Westchester Expressway and since it’s about twelve miles from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Connecticut border it should only take about 15 or so minutes to reach the New England Thruway. Once on the New England (I-95) one keeps going slightly northeast past Greenwich, Stamford, New Haven, and New London and across Connecticut until the Rhode Island frontier. One could stay on I-95 until Route #138 in Rhode Island, or one could drive along the scenic ocean on Route 1 and go past the little towns that dot the Block Island Sound coast. In fact, if one wanted to go to Block Island one could pick up the ferry docked along the State Pier, Galilee, at Point Judith and take a leisurely 12-mile trip out in the Atlantic. One would dock at Champlin’s Marina, in the Great Salt Pond (New Harbor) at Block Island in about 45 minutes depending on how rough was the water.


Block Island is a quaint get-away place that has a lot of beach, about 17-miles worth, 250-foot bluffs and 350 freshwater ponds. The island has a winter population of about 800, but many people own and live in houses for the summer. I was up there twice, once in the early 1980’s with our kids and the second time in the mid 1990’s. Both times we stayed with our friends from White Plains, the Keating’s, who own a Dutch Gambrel house a few miles from the small downtown. But there are a great many day visitors who take the ferry from Point Judith, Providence, New London, or even Orient Beach on the north fork of Long Island.


Meanwhile it’s about 150 miles or so to the Claiborne Pell – Newport Bridge that leads from Jamestown right into Farewell Street or the northern part of Newport. Of course when we first took this bridge across to Newport the toll was about $2.00 and I jokingly asked the toll-taker why it was so expensive, and she retorted that, “Newport was an expensive town!” She was right about that. But ironically the toll hasn’t changed much in many years. On the other hand, one could spend $8.00 to go back and forth on the Whitestone Bridge and one would only be in and out of Queens. Speaking of the bridge and its new name, when Claiborne Pell (born, 1918, went to Princeton, Class of 1940) retired from the United States Senate 1997 (He served from 1961-1997.) they renamed the bridge in his honor. That was a nice touch. He was quite well liked and was largely responsible for the educational “Pell” Grants (1973). His fore bearers went way back to colonial times and he is a descendent of a number of Congressmen, at least two Senators, and is the great, great grandnephew of Senator and Vice-President George M. Dallas, a Democrat, who served as Vice-President of the United States with James Polk, from 1844 to 1849.


Newport was the home of the super rich of the late 19th century, and the best-known family name that built their summer “cottages” in Newport were the Vanderbilt’s. They were descendants of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877). He was descended from an indentured servant named Jan Aertson, who emigrated (1650) from the Village of De Bilt, which was located in Utrecht in the Netherlands to New York. In Dutch “van der” means “of the,” so Jan Aertson, who was van der (of the) Bilt, added Vanderbilt to his name. The Commodore first made his money in steamboat ferries that plied their trade along the Hudson. In the 1840’s with over 100 of these boats his fortune was soon established. It was said that he was the largest employer in the United States in those days. He eventually supplied ships for those hardy souls that wished to sail around the Horn to San Francisco and partake in the Gold Rush of 1849. Eventually the Commodore sold his ship holdings, became a director of the Long Island Railroad, acquired the New York and Harlem Railroad, and by 1869 merged a number of these lines into the New York Central and Hudson Railroad. He then built the Grand Central Station. On the same day as his death, in 1877, the glass roof of the Grand Central Station collapsed in a snowstorm. He left a large fortune of $100 million. The bulk of it went to his son William K. ($95 million). His eight daughters and his second wife (his first wife died in 1869) were left $500,000 each. He also left 2000 shares in the New York Central Railroad to his second wife, whose mother was a distant cousin to his own mother. It was that part of the family that had convinced him to leave $1 million for the creation of Vanderbilt University.


Two of the most famous of these “cottages” of that era were the Breakers and the Marble House. At William K. Vanderbilt’s death (1821-1885), only nine years after his father’s demise, he had increased his inherited fortune to over $200 million. Therefore it was left to his sons, Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843-1899), who built the Breakers and his brother William K. Vanderbilt (1849-1920) to built the Marble House to establish the Newport society that we know of today. Another brother, George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862-1914), built the fabulous Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina that helped usher in the Gilded Age, an era of profligate spending and American noblesse oblige.


Newport is much different today, as one could understandably assume. The Gilded Age probably had ended with World War I and Woman’s Suffrage. But it certainly ended with the stock market crash of 1929. The Dow Jones Average had hit a high of on September 3, 1929, at 381.17. The market had been a bit shaky throughout the fall. Richard Whitney (1888-1974), who had graduated from Groton and Harvard, as did Franklin D. Roosevelt, but was admitted to Pocellian, unlike the late President, was a Wall Street legend. He was a member of the New York Stock Exchange at age twenty-three, was elected to the Board of Governors at thirty-one, and was the head of his own investment company. He was the mirror of the “old guard” of the New York Stock Exchange, which was a loose group of wealthy investors who crafted and guided its direction and destiny. As the leader of this group and at that time in the fall of 1929, he was a Vice-President of the Exchange and its acting President. At the beginning of the Panic on “Black Thursday”, October 24, 1929, he moved on the floor in the midst of the selling frenzy, and placed huge orders in an attempt to bring confidence back to the marketplace and to try to stem the avalanche of selling. He placed an order for 10,000 shares of US Steel at 205, which was 40 points above its current selling price. He also placed other orders for his group in a number of other blue-chip stocks. These orders were estimated to be in the range of $20 million. No one in history had ever spent that type of money in a single afternoon. Of course since he was associated with the House of Morgan, many traders assumed that Morgan was behind such incredible action. This legendary effort seemed to work for a while, and the market, which had dropped precipitously, seemed to take pause. That day over 12.9 million shares had changed hands and the market had lost an incredible amount of its value. Over the weekend investors thought over the situation and decided to sell their holdings and the market absorbed a record 13% loss in value. This set the stage for its ultimate collapse. On “Black Tuesday”, October 29, 1929 the selling reached a historically un-reached crescendo. The losses were incredible and with record 16.4 million shares traded, the market lost another 12%. The market crash had wiped out an incredible amount of wealth. It would eventually bottom out at 41.22 on July 8, 1932 to a level not seen since the 1800’s. By April of 1942 it would have lost 75% of its 1929 value and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would not recover to its 1929 levels until November of 1954. Richard Whitney would still represent the “old guard” as its spokesperson. He served multiple terms as its President from 1930 onward and would be a frequent witness in front of Congressional Hearings until 1935. Because reform elements had indicated he would be opposed fore re-lection in 1935, he chose not to run again. Ironically, he was a terrible manager of his own money. He borrowed from friends and investors by using the name of JP Morgan as his assumed backer. It was estimated that he had borrowed over $30 million and by 1938 he declared bankruptcy and owed over $6 million personally. He was indicted, and pled guilty to misuse of funds and spent three years and four months of his five-to-ten year sentence in the Big House at Sing Sing.


Of course, when I worked on Wall Street in the summer of 1969 many things had changed, but much had still stayed the same. I was at Bache & Company, a well-known brokerage house located high up in the 40 Wall Street skyscraper. The year before, in 1968, Wall Street had enjoyed a terrific year. Volume was at all-time high. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, on a daily basis, was exceeding those record-setting disastrous days of October 1929. If one would include the Over-the-Counter (the fore runner of the NASDAQ) volume and the American Stock Exchange, the street was now trading daily 30+ million shares on an average. Of course, just like 40 years earlier, big changes were also on they way. The “artificial” volume brought on by the peace-feelers in Paris regarding the ongoing Vietnam War, the withdrawal of LBJ from the Presidential race, the murders of Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy and the Presidential campaign of 1968, that elected Richard Nixon, had created money and paper work for the “pre-computer age” Wall Street. Those 30 million shares were causing processing problems that were unheard of just a few years earlier. The “street” which, of course included Bache & Company, had to process its “paper” somewhere. It had to lease out space, hire secretaries and all sorts of back-office help. Bache was the second biggest brokerage house with 100 offices around the country. But, Merrill-Lynch, which had over 1000 offices, dwarfed it, and all of its smaller competitors. In fact, Merrill had more offices than all the rest of the industry combined. Therefore, when the country returned to a more normal state in the spring and summer of 1969, volume dropped off dramatically. It wasn’t that the market had crashed. It was an era of relatively high interest rates, government debt had escalated over the eight Kennedy-Johnson years and war, and the market was incredibly flat. There just wasn’t any volume. The price/earnings ratio had been growing upward until 1967 and, again, after the turmoil of 1968, it started to shrink until the computer revolution of the 1980’s. So the market would hover around the 1000-point mark until the early 1980’s.


As a consequence of that volume drop, business on Wall Street started to slump. Many companies had over-extended themselves because of the paper processing and storage dilemma and therefore went broke. There were incredible lay-offs, old companies merged and many disappeared. It was tough to create investor interest in a market that went sideways. Inflation has always been the bane of the capitalist. When money markets rival the return on equities, the buyer will beware. Most people would love to find fixed and guaranteed rates of return in the seven percent range. They would run from the stock market in a moment.


Of course the Gilded Age and Newport’s grand society had gone out of fashion way before my time on Wall Street. The panic and collapse of the economy, brought on by the crash resulted in a massive deflation that President Herbert Hoover called the “Depression.” The New Deal, authored by Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped the bleeding, but because of the severity of the collapse it could never resurrect the artificially inflated, halcyon days of the 1920’s. Of course present day business -oriented “talking heads” like to say that the New Deal prolonged the slump. Of course they have conveniently forgotten that the 1920’s made the “Techie Bubble” of 2000 look like a walk in the park. The post-World War I years were artificially sustained by the collapse of European economies. During the war American railroads, our biggest employer and the farms were booming. Farms couldn’t grow enough food for needy Europe and between coal and grain shipments the railroads were booming. After the war, the European economies were still devastated and the American economic juggernaut continued its happy charge. But there were economic rumblings being heard and even though there was a return to the pre-war wealth, there would be great change in the wind.


Meanwhile, Newport was founded in 1639 by a small group of Boston colonists who had first settled on Aquidneck Island at Portsmouth and then made their way south, where there was an excellent harbor leading into Narragansett Bay. By the mid 1700’s Newport was a center of commerce and shipbuilding. Because of all the sea borne commerce between New England and the Caribbean, piracy also sprung up in the region. Even the infamous Captain Kidd broke bread with Thomas Paine in Jamestown, which is located east of Newport, across the Bay. Colonial Newport was an unusually sophisticated and cosmopolitan place and even other religious groups, besides the Anglicans were welcomed. It continued to grow until the revolution disrupted life and commerce, and after the war its commercial importance declined rapidly. Even in the period from 1825 to about the mid 1850’s Newport started to develop as a vacation and tourist haven. Bellevue Avenue, the present location of most of the old Gilded Age mansions, became home to many hotels, and in 1839 Kingscote, a Gothic-style edifice, was erected by a Georgian planter George Noble Jones. The British writer Anthony Trollope wrote of Newport as a resort center in 1862. Eventually it was not fashionable to stay in a hotel while summering in Newport, so people staying for the season had to rent or own a cottage. By the 1860’s there were over 250 summerhouses and about 100 were available to be rented. The Civil War stopped the flow of Southerners, who had originally migrated from the hot climes of the south for the summer. As a result of that change, Newport became dominated by the beautiful and rich from Boston and New York.


In 1879, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the owner of the New York Herald, and a yachtsman, was snubbed by some of the members of Newport’s leading club. He therefore built the Newport Casino, where people could dine, listen to music and play tennis. In truth, he was right, and the “beautiful” people eventually started to come to The Casino. Also let us not forget that Bennett owned a polo field at the corner of 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The New York Giants, after they had moved from Troy, NY in 1883 and the owner John T. Brush contracted to play baseball on his field. Eventually a new street had to be made through his property and the Giants again moved uptown. The Newport Casino, which opened up on August 2, 1880, still sits on Bellevue Avenue across from where Bennett’s home used to be. Now there is a shopping center. It was immediately a great success. One can still sit today in the La Forge Restaurant and look out on the original lawn tennis court. Newport and tennis became synonymous and the first United States National lawn tennis championships were held there in 1881. Richard Sears, a 19-year old Harvard student won the inaugural event and went on to win six more championships without losing a set. Eventually there was doubles competition and Sears entered into it in 1882, and with both James Dwight and Joseph Clark, won five titles in a row. The championships stayed there until the onset of World War I and after 1914 never returned. Time and democracy moved on, and Nationals moved to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, NY for the next 63 years. Even the Forest Hills facility became antiquated as the Nationals eventually became an “Open” and the professionals started to dominate the game. The National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows became the next and present venue.


But there were still amateur grass-court tennis events every summer through the 1960’s. Some of the most memorable champions of the Casino Invitation were Bill Tilden (1919,1926-7,9,30), Ellsworth Vines (1931-2), Don Budge (1935,37-8), Bobby Riggs (1936), Bill Talbert (1942,48), Pancho Gonzalez (1949), Tony Trabert (1953), Rod Laver (1960) and Chuck McKinley (1962, 64), who later on, happened to be married to my AB Davis classmate Fran Sanders, who I see once a year during the High Holidays.


Today Newport is still a stop on the men and women’s professional tennis tour. It is not a great field usually, but one can easily get up close and personal with the players. Our first visit to The Casino to see a tournament was in July of 1984. On this occasion the Miller’s National Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located in The Casino had it’s annual inductions. Francisco “Pancho” Segura, Neal Fraser, Manuel Santana and the Australian tennis pair of John Bromwich and Adrian Quist were inducted. As a youngster, in 1957, I wound up being a ball boy in a tennis match that featured Pancho Segura and Ramu Raju, a top-notch Indian player against the great young amateur brothers, Lloyd (age, 18) and Leslie Moglen (age, 16) who happened to be from Mount Vernon, NY, my home town. They were handsome blond demigods who lived down Lorraine Avenue hill and just to the right on Esplanade. They were probably in their late teens in those days and I knew nothing about them except they were ranking Eastern players. Later I met and became friendly with Dave Brechner, who was their contemporary. Dave was a great ambidextrous player from Princeton, who got to meet the Moglen’s a number of times on, and off, the courts. He wasn’t their greatest fan!

Lloyd M. Moglen M.D., psychiatrist, Newport Beach, Ca., died on July 27, 2002. Moglen was born in Brooklyn on November 23, 1939, and earned his M.D. from the University of Louisville in 1966. During his undergraduate years, ar Colombia, Moglen played No. 1 for the freshman and varsity tennis teams and captained the team in 1960. He won the boys’ and junior New York State Championships for six consecutive years, retiring both trophies. One of his tennis career highlights was a first round upset of the then No. 1 seeded junior, Butch Bucholtz, 6–4, 6–3, at the Junior National Tennis Championships. His senior term paper on the Sacco and Vanzetti case was instrumental in their posthumous pardon. Moglen was a loyal brother of Tau Epsilon Phi. After two years of psychiatric residency at the University of Cincinnati, he entered private practice in Foster City, Calif., and enjoyed an active practice for the next 32 years. During this time, he earned the love and gratitude of thousands of patients and the deep respect of his fellow psychiatrists. He pioneered the psychiatric counseling genre of radio talk show for seven years on KQRA in San Francisco. Moglen is survived by his former wife, Diane; daughter, Laurel; son, Brandon ’98J; brothers, Les ’62 and Leland ’66; and sister, Betty Lou.

           Leslie Moglen, MD– A newspaper article about him in the San Francisco Examiner, September 14, 1998!

The misgivings, for both women, started immediately, moments after emerging from the haze of anesthesia. As they lay in the recovery room, both felt instant, grave doubts. “The room was dirty, there were spider webs on the ceiling,” remembers Beverly Leonard. “It was a cattle-herding operation,” remembers Tere Brenner. “A girl was lying by me in pain; she was moaning. The doctor said to me, “She's a baby.' ” I thought, “Gee, I hope I'm not a baby.' ” The women don't know each other, but their experiences with the same San Francisco plastic surgeon, Dr. Leslie Moglen, are remarkably similar. Both say they wound up in excruciating pain from complications after breast augmentations, both required corrective operations, both wound up suing Moglen. Brenner settled her case; Leonard's is pending.  And both women live with abiding regret, blaming themselves for not investigating Moglen's track record before undertaking elective surgery. “I think it is terrible that that man is allowed to practice medicine at all,” says Leonard, 37, a paralegal who lives in Concord. “It is appalling to me that he was allowed to continue to practice considering all the many problems he's had,” says Brenner, also 37, a San Mateo resident. “And it's appalling that, as a physician, he would allow himself to practice. You would think that he would wake up one morning and say, “Maybe I'm not good at this.' ”

Leslie Moglen, MD, A San Francisco Plastic Surgeon, responds:

Moglen says he has had innumerable patients happy with the results of their elective procedures. The subjective nature of plastic surgery, he says, inevitably leads some to unrealistic goals. “I don't think I'd be in practice . . . if the vast majority of my patients were not satisfied with the results,” he says. “You occasionally operate on a patient who has unrealistic expectations. If the result falls short, there is frequently sadness and anger.” Some of Moglen's former patients say their cases epitomize profound lapses within a medical watchdog system designed to ensure consumer safety. State medical authorities are failing to sufficiently monitor doctors, the patients say, thus allowing problem-prone physicians to practice without enough scrutiny, without adequate public warning, without malpractice insurance. Moglen, they say, has remained in practice despite clear-cut signals of incompetency. Between 1983 and 1997, Moglen was a defendant in more than 24 lawsuits lodged in San Francisco Superior Court by patients accusing him of malpractice, negligence or personal injury. San Francisco lawyer Michael Fitzsimons, who has represented Moglen in civil litigation, says the majority of cases were dismissed, resolved in the doctor's favor, “or there was a nominal amount paid.” Moglen says the largest settlement was $60,000.



Disciplined by state<

Moglen also has been disciplined by the state. In 1993, the Medical Board of California suspended him for 30 days and placed him on probation for seven years over his handling of three patients, including Brenner, in what the state termed a “pattern of repeated negligent acts.” Then, his probation was extended another three years for business violations. Two years ago, while he was on probation, one of his patients, Jennifer Ha of Santa Rosa, died following surgery. The state now seeks to revoke the medical license Moglen has held for 31 years. He is charged with gross negligence, incompetence and dishonesty in the Ha death, and with mishandling the case of another patient just five months later. “Dr. Moglen has demonstrated that he cannot safely practice medicine in a surgical field,” says Dave Carr, San Francisco-based deputy attorney general prosecuting Moglen. “It puts people at risk. We have demonstrated more than a risk, but a death. The board wants to ensure it doesn't happen again.”

Getting back to Newport, on that day in July, the semi-finals matched up Vijay Amritraj (who later played a tennis-playing British agent in the Bond film “Octopussy”) against Leif Shiras and then Tim Mayotte against John Sadri, Amitraj would go on to win the event as he did earlier in 1976 and 1980. The whole venue was so entertaining that we decided to come back the next year and see the 1985 Virginia Slims of Newport tournament held between July 15th and the 21st. The semi-finals featured the great Chris Every-Lloyd, the Floridian, who was then 31, versus Eva Pfaff, age 24, from West Germany and in the other match, Wendy Turnball, who was a 33 year old Australian, versus Pam Shriver, who was a Baltimorean then just 23 years old. It wasn’t a surprise that Evert won both the singles and the doubles partnering with Wendy Turnball. I vividly remember standing right next to Chrissy while she leaned against the railing, as she watched some of the other players warming up, and thinking to myself how small she was at 5’ 4” and 114 pounds. Today women tennis players are much, much bigger, and for sure much more powerful. The Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport are over 5’ 10” and weigh at least 150+ lbs!  After an interruption of one year, we made it back to Newport for the July 6-12, 1987 summer edition of the Volvo Tennis/ Hall of Fame Championships. The Men’s field was a lot weaker with only a few name players, which included Wally Masur, Paul Annacone, and Bill Scanlon. There were upsets in the second round as top seeded David Pate (ranked 19) lost to the eventual winner Dan Goldie (ranked 99) and Scott Davis (ranked 21), the second seed lost to the other finalist and runner-up, Sammy Giammalva (ranked 85). In 1987 the inductees to the Hall were a formidable group, which included some real greats, as with Bjorn Borg and Billie Jean King. The others, Alex Olmedo, Dennis Ralston, and Stan Smith, weren’t so bad either, but they weren’t really in Borg or King’s class.

Of course, the reason The Casino was built in the first place was the aforementioned incident, involving the quirky newspaper man James Gordon Bennett, Jr., who had earlier caused a stir by sending reporter Henry Stanley to Africa to find the lost and reclusive Dr. David Livingston, of  “Dr. Livingston, I presume!” One dull day in 1879, in a fit of spirited good times and fun, Bennett dared Captain Candy, a visiting polo player, to bring his horse into Bennett’s club, The Reading Room. His fellow members weren’t amused by having a horse cantering around their sanctum and threw the horse out along with Bennett. Therefore since they couldn’t take a joke, Bennett established is own place, The Casino. Years later, another Candy- Candace Van Alen, asked her tennis-playing enthusiast husband, Jimmy Van Alen, “Why doesn’t tennis have a Hall of Fame like baseball.” A year later, in 1954, Van Alen posed the question to the US Tennis Association. Therefore, with that question posed, the Tennis Hall of Fame started to come into existence. A few of the early inductees were Oliver Campbell, James Dwight, Richard Sears, the first champion, Henry Slocum, Jr., Malcolm Whitman and Robert Wrenn. Even Jimmy Van Alen was inducted in 1965. It only took another 21 years, for the Hall of Fame to be renamed the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1975 with the induction of the great Englishman Fred Perry.

The Casino is quite unique because it is the only Hall of Fame that has a real championship played there. Baseball and football are played at Cooperstown and Canton, but they are only exhibition games that do not count in the seasonal standing. But, of course sports aside, Newport is still the home of many, many rich people. Some of them did liked to be inconvenienced, and when a cold rain comes through there is not much shelter. Jimmy Van Alen’s mother, Mrs. Louis S. Bruguiere, was one of the Grande Dames of Newport society, and a large contributor to The Casino. Shenever liked to be vulnerable to the weather and the winds of chance and therefore she would attend the matches and remain in her Rolls-Royce, which entered the grounds through a back route. She would park behind the grandstand and watch from the comfort of her very luxurious car. By the way, tennis at The Casino wasn’t always economically successful. In 1967, after attendance had been slipping for years a desperate move was made, and James Van Alen, always the tennis innovator, suggested that the “Virginia Slims Invitational,” an all-female event come to Newport. Finally, in 1971, with the likes of Margaret Court, Françoise Durr, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, and Kerry Melville, it was standing room only. Miss Durr stayed with Countess Szapary at the Breakers and it was said that her bedroom was large enough to practice her game. This eventually bolstered Newport’s tennis reputation and the women have been there ever since.

But Newport has many other attractions. When one crosses the Pell-Newport Bridge and turns right onto Farewell Street, within a few short blocks one could find a very different and old neighborhood centered around Touro Synagogue. Thought it is just down the block and across Memorial Boulevard, it seems light years from the glitter and faux image of The Casino and Belleview Avenue.

Because religious freedom was scarce in Portugal and Spain in the late1400’s and both Jews and Moslems were given the choice to convert to Christianity, leave or die. Many Jews moved to the New World and to Dutch colonies specifically.  Roger Williams, who was forced to leave the Puritan Colony of Massachusetts because of his own religious beliefs, was convinced of the necessity of the separation between “church and state.”  Therefore, Williams and his fellow colonists were able to convince King Charles II to go along with what was called the “lively experiment.”

…that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called into, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion.

For that reason, information reached backed to the West Indies of a colony based on religious freedom, a stream of Sephardic Jewish families immigrated to Newport in 1658. They eventually grew, prospered and looked to Amsterdam for a Rabbi. In 1758 Isaac Touro came to Newport, and officiated as a cantor, and functioned a rabbi. Eventually the congregation grew and an architect was hired to construct a place of worship.

Therefore, in this section of Newport, the old Touro Synagogue, named in honor of Isaace Touro, remains the home of the oldest Jewish congregation in America. The architectural landmark, designed by Peter Harrison, was dedicated in 1762, and completed in 1763 after four years of planning and work. One can see, in front of the synagogue, a bronzed copy of President George Washington’s answer to a letter sent by the congregation’s warden, Mr. Moses Seixas. It reads the following:

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.


While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the

Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Right along Touro Street is an old neighborhood of many 18th century buildings. Walking along the narrow alleys of Bull, Spring, Marlborough, and Sherman Streets one could see the Colony House, the Court House, the Newport Historical Society, Hazard House and many, many quaint shops. Also along Touro Street is the Viking Hotel, which at one time was one of the best places to stay. Now there are scores of “Beds and Breakfast” places to stay that range from $120 to $200 per night. They are basically clapboard or wood-shingled one to two-storied edifices that have been kept in excellent condition. People live in some of them, there are offices in others, and some of the larger ones are now “Bed and Breakfasts.” Almost all have an historical designation sign placed near their front door or at the corner of the house. One year we stayed in the Admiral Farragut Inn and, as I can recall, it was quite pleasant. We even went to a Friday night service at Touro Synagogue one evening. Touro Synagogue was and remains affiliated with the orthodox movement and therefore there are two different levels with a women’s gallery upstairs, reached by a separate staircase. Each level has twelve columns, carved from a single tree representing the twelve tribes of Israel. But today most of the membership is no longer Sephardic, but Askenazic and few are orthodox. I can recall quite vividly that Friday night that there were many men in uniform.

Newport is still home to the US Naval War College. The college was founded in 1884 and wargaming and strategy became part of the early curriculum in 1887. The main building of the College is named for the famous naval visionary, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), who led the Naval War College from 1886-89, and again from 1892 thru 1893. Eventually the NWC was expanded to its present size in the 1970’s, and the last major additional, Spruance Hall, was named after NWC head, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (1886-1969) who commanded our fleet victoriously at the Battle of Midway. Spruance eventually was promoted to the high rank of Fleet Admiral, despite having his promotion blocked numerous times by Congressman Carl Vinson who was a friend of his rival Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.

As one comes back up the hill past Touro Synagogue and the Viking Hotel one reaches Memorial Boulevard. On one trip we stayed in a private home that overlooked Memorial Drive just north of Bellevue Avenue and not far from the beginning of the North End of the Cliff Walk. One can look down Memorial Boulevard heading towards Middletown and see the land bridge that cuts across an inlet of the Rhode Island Sound. On the side that faces the Sound is Easton’s Beach. On the other side of the road is Easton’s Pond. Past the land bridge, and at the entrance to Middletown are beach houses and seafood restaurants. Crossing Memorial Drive from Touro Synagogue, is The Casino and a well-off end of Bellevue Avenue. This section of Bellevue is the home of many of the remaining mansions. The big attractions are The Elms, Chateau-Sur-Mer, The Breakers, Rosecliff and the Marble House. The Breakers, which is Rhode Island’s most popular tourist Mecca, is the grandest of all the mansions. Even its surrounding concrete wall and wrought iron fence would cost a fortune to replicate today. Cornelius Vanderbilt II originally paid $450,000 for the 71-acre site, which has the most magnificent view of the ocean. The first “Breakers” burned down in 1892, and the one that remains today is completely fireproof. It was opened for public viewing in 1948, and the Newport Preservation Society purchased it in 1972. The front wrought iron gates weigh seven tons, and the scrollwork arch is thirty feet high. Of course the view of the ocean, and Ochre Point is breathtaking and unique to this mansion. The Great Hall rises to 50 feet and the first floor and logia open on to a panoramic view of the Cliff Walk and the Atlantic Ocean. We have always visited The Breakers when we were in Newport In our recent trip we also visited the equally incredible Marble House. It took four years to build this white marble palace. It was finished in 1892 for Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, and Harold S. Vanderbilt, the yachtsman, gave it to the Society in 1963. The high Corinthian columns and its balustrade drive make it the most impressive of the Bellevue Avenue cottages. The rooms in the Marble House are even more impressive than The Breakers. The dining room and the Gothic Room are incredibly impressive, but the Gold Ballroom is almost unlike anything outside of the Versailles Palace. Its chandeliers, carved gilt wall panels, mirrors, ceiling and mythological figures make this room incredibly unique. It is just breathtaking! Going to the rear of the Marble House one would find the Chinese Tea House, a lavishly decorated outdoor structure built in 1914 for the former Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, who had divorced her husband and had remarried one Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont.

One of the earliest of the super-mansions built was Chateau-Sur-Mer, which was built out of Fall River granite in 1852, for William S. Wetmore. Seth Bradford and Richard Morris Hunt, the most popular Newport architect, remodeled the mansion in the early 1870s’for Wetmore, who made his fortune in the China trade. The rooms are interesting, especially with its wood paneling, but they pale in comparison with The Breakers or the Marble House. The Elms, built for coal magnate EJ Berwind in 1901, is a copy of Chateau d’Agnes, at Asniere, France. Its immense stairway and triple doors leads directly to its unique divided stairs. The grounds are superior to all of the other houses with its fountains, lawn and statuary. Its rooms are almost in the league of The Breakers, or Marble House, but not as ornate. In the back is a marvelous sunken garden with two gazebos that flank the upper terrace. Rosecliff, built in 1902 for Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs, is a 40-room French chateau that was modeled on the Court of Love, designed by Augustus Saint Gaudens, after Marie Antoinette’s home at Versailles. It was given to the Society in 1971. Rosecliff was the location for the filming of the Great Gatsby in 1973.

Of course not all of Newport is tennis and Mansion hopping. Though at one time one could drive out on Ocean Drive and find their way to Hammersmith Farm. Hammersmith Farm was established in 1640, when a surveyor for the English crown, one William Brenton was awarded 1100 acres for his efforts for Charles II. Hammersmith Farm, up until recently was owned by only three families. Brenton’s loyalist descendents owned it until1780, when it was confiscated by the local colonists. For a hundred years, a family named Ayrault owned it until it was sold it off to John Auchicloss in 1887. A few summers later it was deeded to his younger brother Hugh. Hugh had a son, Hugh Jr., who married Janet Lee Bouvier (1907-1989). Ms. Bouvier had divorced her husband, a rake named John Vernou “Black Jack” Bouvier III (1891-1957). Bouvier, a notorious womanizing stockbroker fathered two daughters Jacqueline (1929-1994) and Lee. Jacqueline, who as a young gal, went to the Chapin School in Manhattan, Mrs. Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut and Vassar. She eventually worked for the Washington Times-Herald as the Inquiring Camera Girl in 1951. Her job was to interview interesting people. It was through this job that the engaged Jackie Bouvier ( to one John Husted), met the young Massachusetts Senator, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Her mother, Janet Lee, was opposed to her engagement to Mr. Husted because of his supposed lack of wealth. As things happen, Jackie broke her engagement, became romantically involved with Senator Kennedy, a most eligible bachelor. Eventually they were married in a remarkable ceremony held on the lawn of Hammersmith Farm on September 12, 1953. There were over 2000 guests at this social event of the season. One of them was not the father-of-the-bride. It was said that the Auchincloss family did not want “Black Jack” to give away the bride. It was rumored that friends of the family effectively lubricated him, the night before the wedding, and in his inebriated state he was unable to make the event.

Years later when, after I met my future wife Linda (who worked actively in the Robert Kennedy Campaign of 1968), I came in contact with her cousin the famous Frederick W. Rosen, Lt. Commander (retired) who had just happened to have served in the PT Boats and was a contemporary and friend of Jack Kennedy.  Fred was born in Brooklyn in 1917 (the same year as JFK), and moved to Georgia in the 1930’s when his older brother sought opportunities in the textile industry. Fred enlisted in the US Navy and met Jack Kennedy in Charlestown when they were both assigned to the Commandant’s staff in the code-deciphering department. Kennedy had been stuck in this unglamorous duty and some historians thought that he was there being “set-up” by the FBI. During that period of time the handsome, single Kennedy was having a relationship with one Inga Marie Arvad, a 28-year-old beautiful Dane, who was suspected as being a Nazi spy. She was then married, and represented one of the leading Danish Newspapers, and had interviewed Goring, Goebbels and even Hitler! Of course, though warned of Inga’s connections, he did not want to give up Inga, who was the most intriguing women he had so far met. As traveled and sophisticated as he was in meeting ambassadors and diplomats, his extraordinary experience as a 24 year old paled in comparison with this worldly 28 year old. She was not only well traveled like Jack, but was smart, sharp, beautiful, sophisticated and sexually experienced.


It seemed that the FBI had been trailing Inga for quite some time and was wire tapping her phones, observing her actions and bugging her hotel rooms wherever she went and tracking whomever she was associated with. But with all of their efforts, it was said, that they were only able to chronicle her high level of passion and nothing about codes or secrets. If they wanted to entrap the young Kennedy with a potential spy, it failed. The affair with Inga passed, and more serious business was at hand for the young recruits. As time passed in the de-coding section, news came through asking for volunteers for Midshipman School in Chicago, and both Fred and a bored Jack Kennedy immediately volunteered. They were both originally rejected, seemingly because they didn’t have replacements in Charlestown. Fortunately the demand for officer candidates in Chicago was so great that they were both eventually approved for sea duty training.


Eventually, the famous Lt. Commander John Duncan Bulkeley of New York City, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for taking General Douglas MacArthur out of the Phillipines, recruited both Fred and Jack Kennedy for the PT Boat service. Bulkeley was so famous that he was given a ticker-tape parade up Broadway; a best seller (and later a movie was made with Robert Montgomery and John Wayne) They Were Expendable was written about his exploits crossing 600 miles of open sea, in a PT Boat carrying MacArthur from Corregidor to Mindanao, and FDR not only presented him personally with the Congressional Medal of Honor, but also treated him to a private audience. In the seclusion of their meeting Bulkeley extolled the virtues of the PT Boat and requested that 200 be immediately shipped to the Pacific. Bulkeley later related his “fantasies” to Kennedy’s class in Chicago. and requested the “toughest, hard-boiled men who can take all the punishment in the world.” Fred later recalled that he (Bulkeley) was just recruiting volunteers for that service, because that was the only way one could get into that type of service. (Years later I spoke to Fred about Bulkeley, (1911-96), who had been awarded, along with the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and two Purple Hearts had attained rank of Vice-Admiral, and was being honored in his 80’s. Fred did not speak enthusiastically about him! I was quite surprised but didn’t pursue the discussion.)


While they were both at the Melville Motor Boat Training School (Rhode Island), Jack was the only one with a car and they drove into nearby Newport nightly, and NYC on the weekends. Fred who was from Dalton, Georgia was able to experience a pretty exciting night life with the young Kennedy and he clearly remembered his first time at the “21” Club. Another fellow that they “hung out” with was Knox Aldridge, who played football with Fred at the University of Georgia. Fred had played for the Georgia Bulldogs who tied 10-10 the famous Fordham College Ram team, and its Seven Blocks of Granite linemen of 1937.


Of course Fred saw many sides of the young Kennedy, and some of his remarks could be quite offensive. One time Jack said that the “Jews were all going into the Quartermaster Corps to escape combat.” In truth, Kennedy not only misinterpreted the Quartermaster Corps and its role, but Fred got him to admit that his statement was outrageous. There were many other times that the future President had a tendency to reflect his father’s prejudices. Eventually they were sent to New Orleans where the boats were being built in the Higgins Boat Yard. There, Fred and Jack separated. Fred later served in the Mediterranean as skipper of his own ship, PT-207 of the squadron MTB Ron 15. He was a decorated sailor who was engaged in 73 actions and 55 OSS missions. One included support for the bringing of Michael Burke (member of the OSS, later owner of the NY Yankees) into Italy for the purpose of arranging the surrender of Italian Forces and ending their participation in the Axis Alliance. Of course, on the other side of the world, in the Pacific, Jack Kennedy gained fame with his crew of the ill-fated PT-109.


Fred Rosen stayed friendly with Kennedy after the war and was the only PT boat commander in attendance at his wedding in Newport at Hammersmith Farm. He was on the board of PT Boat Men for Kennedy in 1960 and was invited to be in attendance during the President’s swearing in as President. Fred representing Peter Tare, the PT Officers alumni association, presented President Kennedy with a Steuben glass replica of his famous boat that remained a fixture on his desk during his Presidency. My daughter, who worked at the Kennedy Library, during her graduate school days in Boston, gave us a tour of the Library and we looked immediately for the famous model.


We were able to visit Hammersmith Farm a few times before it was closed to the public. Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss Morris (her fourth husband.) still lived in a small yellow house on the property when we first toured Hammersmith Farm and its marvelous Frederick Law Olmstead designed gardens. The elaborate gardens, designed in the early 1900’s, were said to need 32 gardeners to maintain its care. By our last visit, the house that had served as the Summer White House during the years, 1961-3 had been recently sold to a private owner. We were actually among the last lucky few to see the house publicly. Our visit was the last ever scheduled by the Foundation that controlled the property. One of my most vivid memories was that of the “deck room.” This was a fantastic windowed porch that looked over Narragansett Bay. The charmingly appointed dining room and the breakfast alcove looked out over the long pasture that led up from the waters of the Bay. The late President would, once in a while, take a cruise to Newport on an aircraft carrier, and fly over to the house in a Marine helicopter. It would land on the lawn outside of the dinning room’s large bay window and door and the President would enter directly into the house and have lunch.


It was never easy to reach Hammersmith Farm, and without the many signs it would have been virtually impossible. The Farm was located quite a distance off the road, and one would never be able to see the house today. When we drove out on Ocean Drive this November trip I was not able to recognize any way to find the Farm. But I did notice the explosions of new modern mansions that were recently built on the cliffs that overlook the ocean.


How could one sum up Newport without two of the most important aspects of that town? Unfortunately both, Jazz and the America’s Cup yacht racing have long since reached their peak in Newport and have been on the decline for years. The Newport Jazz Festival, is an on again, off again, music event held in Newport in August. George Wein, a Boston nightclub owner, established it in 1954, and it probably became famous because of Miles Davis’s solo “Round Midnight” in 1955 and Duke Ellington’s great appearance in 1956. The Festival certainly got a little publicity from the film High Society that was also released in 1956. It was a shallow re-make of The Philadelphia Story, put to music and its venue was moved from the “Main Line” of Philadelphia to the mansions of Newport. Bing Crosby replaced Gary Grant as C.K. Dexter-Haven, the divorced husband of Grace Kelly, who replaced Katherine Hepburn. Music of course was the main feature to this “fluffy” and “tepid” version. With Frank Sinatra playing the Jimmy Stewart role, and the great Louis Armstrong adding Jazz to the score, Newport’s connection with the Jazz Festival was reinforced.


The Festival was originally held at Belcourt (now known as Belcourt Castle) a Bellevue Avenue estate owned by Louis and Elaine Lorillard. Probably the best known of the albums made from those 1950’s events was the Columbia record album Newport 1958, featuring Duke Ellington and his Orchestra with Gerry Mulligan. Some of the memorable cuts were; Just Scratchin’ the Surface, El Gato, Princess Blue, Juniflip, and Prima Bara Dubla. The film Jazz on a Summer’s Day documented the 1958 musical event. But all did not work out well for the annual event. In 1960, overly enthusiastic fans, probably well lubricated, got carried away with the vibes and created a virtual riot. The police were called, and they couldn’t quell the upheaval and the National Guard had to be brought in to douse the revelers. Despite the unpleasantness of the year before, the Festival was resumed once again in 1961. Stars like Dave Brubeck, Nina Simone and Nate “Cannonball” Adderley continued to bring the “house” down. Unfortunately the outdoor performances were plagued by the vicissitudes of the weather and after some, up and down, financial years, along crowd conduct problems in 1969 and 1971, the Newport Jazz Festival moved to New York in 1972. It returned once again to Newport in 1981 and became a two-city event. Remarkably it is still directed by George Wein and since 1984 it has been called the JVC Jazz Festival, as JVC is now its principle sponsor. These Jazz festivals are now played all over the world and are not unique to Newport.


When driving into Newport one realizes immediately that water has always been important to Newport’s existence. Along America’s Cup Way and Thames Street one could look out and see not only extensive wharfs and docks that provides a safe harbor to a multitude of yachts and smaller water craft, but scores of restaurants offering every variety of local seafood. One can also drive over a causeway to Goat Island, which used to house the Fleet Landing and Section base piers for the US Navy. In 1946, at the end of the Second World War, the use of Goat Island Torpedo Station created for torpedo production, came to a close. Goat Island is now the home to a hotel-marina-apartment complex.


It was in Newport that yachting came of age in America. It became the home for the top sailors and designers of yachts because of the America’s Cup competition. Originally the “Cup” was offered as the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup. But the New York Yacht Club, which challenged for it with its ship America. a 30,86 meter schooner-yacht won it, in open competition, in a regatta around the Isle of Wight, on August 22, 1851. Garrard and Company crafted the “Cup”, (one of 3 or 6 that were made) an ornate silver-plated, bottomless pitcher, around 1848 and Sir Henry Paget, the Marquess of Anglesey bought one of them and donated it as a prize. It was originally known also as the “RYS Cup for One Hundred Sovereigns.” That became translated into the “One Hundred Guinea’s Cup.” The America won the race by 20 minutes, and supposedly Queen Victoria asked who was second; the answer famously was: “There is no second, your Majesty.”

The “Cup” was officially donated to the New York Yacht Club in 1857, and the “trophy” was held in trust as “challenge” prize to foster friendly racing competition between other countries. With their pride damaged, the British yachting enthusiasts sponsored plethora of challenges. Over the next 113 years 25 efforts failed and the New York Yacht Club’s fleet of defenders remained invincible. Matches were held in the vicinity of New York from 1870 until 1920. But from 1930 until the early 1980’s the races were held off Newport. One of the greatest challenges came from the tea magnate, Sir Thomas Lipton, who would mount five unsuccessful efforts between 1899 and 1930. His yachts, the Shamrocks, were very large sailing sloops. One, the Shamrock V is still around today, over 75 years since Lipton’s death in 1931.

After the war ended, the huge and costly J-class yachts were replaced by the much more economical 12-meter types. I can remember vividly the 1958 defense of the “Cup” by the Columbia with Briggs Cunningham as its skipper. This was the first renewal of the event since 1937 when Harold S. Vanderbilt commanded the Ranger as he defeated the Endeavor II from England. Vanderbilt captained three successful defenses off his home base of Newport. One could see a room dedicated to Vanderbilt and his efforts at the Marble House. The United States continued to successfully defend the “Cup” in Newport waters until 1980 with the Freedom. In 1883 the Australia II was able to break the long victory string that had begun in1851 with a victory over the Liberty in the seven-race event, 4-3. In the next challenge the United States yacht, Stars and Stripes ’87, with Dennis Connor in command, fended off 13 other syndicates and won back the “Cup” off Fremantle, Australia. A bitter legal challenge between the Team New Zeeland and Dennis Conners ensued over ship design, but with the victory of the United States, the races went to San Diego. It was there that the New Zeeland challenger Black Magic defeated the United States yacht, Young America. The race would move to Auckland and eventually a Swiss yacht took the “Cup” and the next race, in 2007, will be held off Valencia, Spain.

The era of Newport being the host for the America’s Cup races has been over for more than two decades. Will it come back? Who can tell? Like the Gilded Age, the National Tennis Championships, the Jazz masters of the 1950’s and the racing days of the Vanderbilt’s, time marches on. Newport has survived without them, but their memories still evoke a warm feeling among the fans, spectators and the folks that remember the class, opulence and substance of a bygone age.

PS: On December 30, 2006 I received a call from Leland Moglen. He happened to find the article on a “search engine,” was quite shocked and called me from California where he and the other Moglen's live. The last time I saw Leland or spoke to him was 45+ years ago. 















Letter to defeated Congresswomen Sue Kelly 11-9-06


November 9, 2006


Hon. Sue Kelly

2182 Rayburn

House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Ms. Kelly,


Despite the recent election results, I hope this letter finds you quite well. As a resident of Westchester County, I was exposed to almost all of the political commercials that were aired in the late campaign. Of course there were not a great many contested campaigns and therefore the variety of commercials were quite limited. One of the commercials that I happened to hear was one of yours, and it resonated with me more than others.


Your commercial, calling your opponent a hypocrite because of his ownership of mutual funds, was quite hilarious. As a NASD registered representative and an owner of mutual funds myself, I found your commercial accusing Mr. Hall of hypocrisy most amazing. I am sure that almost all citizens of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess County own a mutual fund through either their 401(k), or 503(b), or deferred annuities or variable insurance policies. Of course there are exceptions. But as a person who does understand mutual funds I found your commercial foolish, disingenuous and misleading. With regards to mutual funds, their holdings are strictly limited to a small percentage of any one company’s stock. No mutual fund can own more than a small percentage of that company’s outstanding stock and when that stock grows in value beyond that legal limit, shares must be sold to equalize the fund’s holdings. Therefore all mutual funds, no matter if they are concentrated in a specific economic sector can never be dominated by one stock. I am sure you aware of that and I also assume you own mutual funds and your Congressional retirement account is also invested in that type of financial vehicle. Therefore to accuse someone of being a hypocrite because of that type of ownership is ridiculous. Mutual funds, in most cases, do not spin off earnings and grow tax deferred until sold. Therefore to accuse Mr. Hall of owning Walmart, or other stocks in a mutual fund’s portfolio is and was misleading. In the same way you, or anyone else, does not have control over any of the stocks in your mutual funds. Therefore to accuse someone who owns diversely invested mutual funds of being a hypocrite, regarding their criticism of those company’s actions, is meaningless. It would be like owning a telephone and complaining about its service. Should one give up one’s phone?


I did contribute to Mr. Hall’s campaign and I am a registered Democrat and therefore, even though I do not know you or him personally, I am exquisitely happy with the change of leadership in the Congress. The Republican leadership and the Republican members have been in lock step as cheerleaders and co-conspirators with one of the worst and most divisive Presidents in our history. His venal conduct and his pandering to the flat-earth thinkers of our society have reduced us to the laughing stock of most of the world. (Read Gary Wills piece “A Country Ruled by Faith”) Thankfully a vast majority of Americans have awakened to his charade and have spoken out in righteous indignation. They have repudiated your do-nothing, “rubber stamp” 109th Congress that has ratified his errors, miscalculations and lies. 


Of course it will not be an easy task to undo the harm that this President has wrought. But be assured, history will show eventually, that this administration, and the Republican led Congress, will be accurately portrayed as one bought and sold by some of worst and greediest elements of our society. When the harsh and long overdue light of oversight enters the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, much will be exposed to the public. I am sure that we will see revealed a level of corruption and misconduct that will make Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran-gate and other scandals pale in comparison. Unlike the mindless meandering witch-hunt led by Kenneth Starr we will see a true and thorough unearthing that will let all the poisons come forth. Hopefully the Congress will open up the files on Mr. Bush and his family that he so conveniently locked away from public scrutiny at Texas A.M. under the former guardianship of Bob Gates. (See Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, November 9, 2006) It is too bad that so much suffering in New Orleans and in overseas has happened because of the stolen election of 2000. The Bush legacy has been a disaster for America and most of the world, but finally the public is awakening to the truth.





Richard J. Garfunkel




The Day After- The Election Aftermath 11-8-06

The Day After-The Election Aftermath!

November 8, 2006

Richard J. Garfunkel


Last night the country started to bring balance back into America’s ruling body politic. Finally after twelve long years the Democrats have regained the House of Representatives and maybe they are on the way to controlling the Senate.


It has been a long drought for the Democrats and there are many reasons why this has happened. The so-called Reagan Revolution started to accelerate the decline of the Democratic majorities in this country with a basic appeal to “nuts and bolts” issues. Changes started with the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 in the wake of Lyndon Johnson’s miscalculations regarding the quagmire of Vietnam. Johnson squandered much of the good will that he achieved domestically. The Democrats had lost their way over time with the excesses of Wayne Hays, Wilbur Mills, and later brigands like James Trafficant. There are numerous examples of Democratic misconduct that took down others like Stephen Solarz. Obviously, both parties have had their miscreants, along with many others, who have suffered from the hubris associated with the arrogance of power.


Maybe the Democrats have finally learned something after wandering in the political desert for twelve long years. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party can look back at the electoral successes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and even George Bush, 41 as a reflection of their inability to present a focused and reasonable message to the American people. As much as I like and liked Bill Clinton, his mistakes in 1993 and 1994 led to this intellectual Dark Age that emerged in the House. The Senate, by definition, is not structured like the House and because Senators have a six-year term and staggered elections, they are more independent and less able to be dominated by a narrow majority.


Hopefully this new Democratic majority will be listening to the public about housing, education, healthcare and jobs. It will have to deal with the tricky issues of immigration and “broken borders.”  It will certainly have to find an intelligent way out of the morass in Iraq. We are still a long way from convincing the majority of Americans over the efficacy of “gay marriage,” unlimited abortion rights and rights with zero responsibility.

We have to go back to “building bridges” and reaching intelligent consensus through a new era of “transparency” and “oversight.”


Probably the sweetest result of this election was the defeat of Rick Santorum, the poster child for flat-earth, creation science thinking. I ask, when was the last time a two-time incumbent was crushed in his bid for re-election with barely 41% of the vote? I suggest that that hasn’t happened in electoral history since the New Deal victories of FDR. In his twelve uninspiring years he reflected the arrogance of the so-called “moral majority.” When I listened to his “concession” remarks last night, I was not fooled by his syrupy rhetoric. He expects to be back and was shielding his obvious bitterness at being rejected by historic majorities.


Hopefully when the Democrats get back to their leadership role, the Congress will use its historic mandate and responsibility to unearth the hidden excesses and criminality of this administration. From my perspective, Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Ken Lay, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, Conrad Burns and many others are just the tip of the iceberg and the public face of a “culture of corruption” that is pervasive in Washington. The “K” Street lobbyist mill must be broken apart. It takes $1 million to run against a House incumbent and over $6 million to launch a Senate campaign. But in the big states the numbers are much greater. Ned Lamont spent $16 million of his own money and became a poster child for “spending limits.” Are we going to let our democracy to be taken over by multi-zillionaires like Corzine, Schwarzeneggar, Bloomberg and Lamont? I would hope in the future that some form of campaign spending limitations would be enacted along with a modified term limitation for both houses of Congress. Unfortunately the Supreme Court has limited controls on “spending” as a manifestation of a restriction upon the “freedom of speech.” For sure, any type of Federal term limitations for Congress (18 years) would necessitate a long Constitutional amendment process.


I believed, a number of months ago, that the Democrats would certainly regain the House and I certainly leaned towards believing that control of the Senate was in range. The history of the 20th Century has always reflected the “6th year itch” in the mid-term election of a two-term incumbent.


With the case of George W. Bush, I have zero sympathy for him, his administration, and his friends. His presidency has been a lie, a horror and a disaster. He has been a politically motivated ignorant low-life with a wide and aggressive venal streak. He has surrounded himself with sycophants, thugs and political hacks, who echo and direct his hypocritical and divisive policies. His domestic policy has been fraught with ineptness, insider deals and corruption, and the current do-nothing rubber-stamp Congress has given him a carte blanche pass! Whether it be his authorship of inheritance tax giveaways to billionaires, the Katrina response disaster, the Dubai Port takeover, the energy bill, the transportation boondoggle bill, the Medicare drug plan giveaway, the pork barrel deficits, the disappearance of American jobs, the stagnation of middle-class incomes, the trade deficits, the Enron meltdown, the immigration crisis, our educational nightmare, the trampling of the Constitution, and the dual disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has been an abject failure. I assume there are still thousands of trailers and ice blocks being stored in Arkansas waiting to be used in New Orleans.


I am not sure whether the Congress has the power or stomach to impeach him, but let us not forget that there were over 1000 investigations of Bill Clinton, with the resulting expenditure of tens of millions of dollars. There were also countless impeachment resolutions. As a result of all of that harassment, Ken Starr was able to sell his worthless book to his right-wing harpies.


Again, hopefully a new day has dawned, and the Democrats have learned their lesson. Let them clean up the mess and corruption in Congress. Let them get control of “K” Street and let them start to help the middle class with real tax reform. Hopefully they will force Bush to replace Rumsfeld and his failed team. Then maybe we will craft a reasonable policy in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe then, we will be able to reach out to our friends around the world and start to address our real and reasonable needs and objectives.


PS: Looks like Webb has won, 7000+ vote margin is irreversible. Santorum blamed Satan for his defeat. He should have said that in his concession speech! Rumsfeld exit was “greased” already!   rjg

Red Auerbach, and How He Made the Celtics 11-3-06

Red Auerbach, and How He Made the Boston Celtics


Richard J. Garfunkel

November 3, 2006


Arnold “Red “ Auerbach died the other day at age 89. He was a native New Yorker who was born in Brooklyn. To almost everyone he was known as “Red,” but Bob Cousy, his first great star, and the man that put the Celtics on the map, called him Arnold. To all of us who liked and played basketball, Bob Cousy was our hero. He was not only a “normal” sized man at 6’ 1,” but handled a basketball like a magician. First you saw it here and then you saw it there. Cousy was also from St. Albans, Queens, had attended Andrew Jackson High School and also wound up in the New England area at Holy Cross College in Worcester. Red, who had attended Eastern District High School in Brooklyn went off to George Washington High School in Washington. They of course met almost by accident. Auerbach had seen him play in the Boston area, and didn’t really like his style of play. Cousy had a reputation of being a player who was in the mold of the Harlem Globetrotters. He moved up the court with great speed, and threw “blind” passes at his teammates and dazzled the Holy Cross crowds with his ball-handling. Even his coach Alvin “Doggie Julian, who coached at Holy Cross for two more years, before coaching the Celtics for two years and then moving on to Dartmouth until his death in 1967, wondered about his ability. But in his freshman year, Holy Cross wound up winning the NCAA title and was therefore established as New England’s team. Unfortunately, the insecure Cousy was so unsure about his role at Holy Cross, that he thought about transferring to Saint Johns University in NYC and wrote their famous coach, Joe Lapchick for advice. Lapchick responded that he should stick with Julian, who, in his opinion, was one of the finest coaches in the land. The next year was no better, and Cousy never warmed to Julian. Eventually late in one game against Loyola, with the Crusaders losing, the crowd started to pressure the coach to put the bench-warming Cousy in the game, and they started a rhythmic chant, repeating, “We want Cousy.” Finally he was put in the game, he hit six out of seven of his shots, rallied the team, and they squeezed out a close win.


Joe Lapchick was a member of the “Original Celtics” that dominated basketball from the early 1920’s until they went broke during the Depression in 1931. The “Original Celtics” had nothing to do with the Boston Celtics and had evolved from a team called the New York Celtics. Their stars included Lapchick, Nat Holman, John Beckman, Dave Banks and the great “Dutch” Dehnert. Dehnert remained a “household” name in American basketball until the 1940’s. As the build-up for World War II started, millions of American young men volunteered for the service or were drafted. A friend of mine, and a business associate, Al Maisel, was a ballplayer from Brooklyn in the 1930’s. After enlisting in the service and finishing basic training he met a friend who was wearing Sergeant stripes. Al was in shock, and he told me that if this man was an NCO, all was lost and we lose the war. His old friend, who was also a former basketball player, told him that he had gotten his “stripes” because of his ability to play basketball. Eventually his friend asked him if he wanted a three-day pass to play basketball at an army fort in Mississippi, Maisel thought it over, decided it would be fun and volunteered to go. He even heard that the great “Dutch” Dehnert would be there. (Henry “Dutch” Dehnert, 1898-1879, was a big, strong boy when he starred for the Celtics in the 1920’s. He was the originator of the “pivot” play and that tactic revolutionized “inside” play in basketball. He played in over 2000 games in a 35-year career.) Of course when Al eventually arrived at his destination, found the gymnasium, and was directed to the locker room. He met the coach, received his uniform and noted that all over the field house it was advertised that the great “Dutch” Dehnert would be playing. Al looked around and wondered where he was. Al thought that Dehnert was an “old man” and was amazed that he would still be playing basketball. Finally his team took the court and the players were announced from the bench. Finally Dehnert’s name was announced and Maisel looked around, where was Dehnert? Then he felt a push on his back, and the coach said, “Get out there!” Maisel said, “Me!” The coach said, “Yeh, you are Dehnert tonight!” The game was played, the crowd was happy, and all was right with the world. Later on, Al learned that Dehnert never came to these games, and since the crowd had no idea what Dehnert looked like, there was always a “new” Dehnert almost every game they played. So much for truth in advertising!


In this same period of time, Auerbach, who had transferred from the bankrupt and foundering Seth Low Junior College, in NYC, graduated from George Washington University in 1940. Auerbach had a pretty distinguished career at George Washington, where he played in 56 games over three years, and as a starter he averaged 6.0 points per game. But in his final year, he averaged 8.5 points per game, and that wasn’t too bad in those ancient pre-war years. In his three years, the Colonials were 38 and 19, and Red was their captain and highest scorer. His peers considered him a pretty heady ballplayer. He was lucky he had a great coach in Bill Reinhart, who had a sterling 22-year career at George Washington. Reinhart had his coaching career interrupted by a long military hitch (1943-9) but later had put together some remarkable teams, like the 1954 and 1955 squads which had a combined record of 47-9. Red later stayed on to get his Master’s Degree. After earning his Degree in 1941, and a few coaching assignments, Pearl Harbor was attacked and Red eventually, in 1943, entered the US Navy as a seaman.


At his discharge, almost a year to the day after the Japanese surrender, Auerbach, now a Lieutenant (JG) was free to go back to his career in the classroom and gym. While in the Navy, his old coach, now Commander Bill Reinhardt asked for him to be assigned to the Norfolk Naval Training Base. In the Navy, Red had become acquainted with many other athletes who had been also inducted. The Navy was under editorial criticism regarding the fact that many of the athletes had not been shipped to overseas duty. Therefore, they wanted to set up a physical training program and they wanted all the athletes involved in that training. Auerbach was put in charge of organizing tournaments and at one time had 28 events going at once. One of his many contacts, the young Phil Rizzuto, would have a great impact on his life, career, and success. They spent many hours together and all Phil talked about was his coach and hero Joe McCarthy, the manager of the Yankees. McCarthy knew how to manage men, and did everything to bring class to the Bronx Bombers.


McCarthy had come to the Yankees after the raucous days of the Murderous Row Yankees of the 1920’s. Following the death of the great Yankee manager Miller Huggins in 1929, their owner Jacob “Jake” Ruppert had little success finding an adequate successor. Art Fletcher had finished out the 1929 season with a 6 and 5 record, and in 1930 Bob Shawkey, a star pitcher with the Yanks and the Red Sox, was appointed manager. After a mediocre season, Shawkey was fired and Joseph McCarthy, who had been managing the Chicago Cubs, was hired, and took over the 1931 Yankees. McCarthy was a no-nonsense brilliant manager who instilled pride in his ballplayers. He taught them how to dress, how to tip in restaurants, how to act in a hotel lobby and how to be a gentleman. They looked like champions and they started to again play like champions. All of this was not lost on the crafty Auerbach. He had made up his mind that if he had the opportunity he would make his teams look and act like champions. After his discharge Red started his professional career coaching in the newly organized National Basketball Association. His first season was with the short-lived Washington Capitals, who folded after three seasons and then he moved on to the Tri-Cities franchise in 1949, before joining the Celtics in 1950. (That season with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Red was 28-29, his only losing season in his 20 year coaching career!)


By the time I became aware of sports, as a young boy, my first team was the Yankees and one of my early heroes was Phil Rizzuto. I didn’t know much about basketball, but every once in a while my father would take me to the old Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue to see the professional basketball doubleheaders. In the early 1950’s one could attend the Garden and see a double-header featuring the Knicks against the Syracuse Nationals and the Fort Wayne Pistons against the Boston Celtics. Since in those days there were only eight teams in the NBA, one could see half the league play during an evening. Though I am positive my father, who was a terrific athlete, never played basketball, he happened to like Bob Cousy and talked about him constantly. In fact, Cousy had become the matinee idol the league needed. He became the small man alternative to the giant star George Mikan, who played for the Lakers, then located in Minneapolis. Cousy never disappointed his fans. He was the master of the behind the back pass, and unlike other star guards of that era, like Dick McGuire, Slater Martin and Bob Davies, he was a high scorer. (Cousy had averaged 15.2 points per game at Holy Cross would average 18.4 for the Celts.)


In 1955 my father took me to the Garden to see the famous Holiday Festival Finals. In those days all the top college basketball teams aspired to play in New York City. New York had the great crowds, the most knowledgeable fans and all the professional scouts for the NBA. That evening the final four featured the great University of San Francisco Dons with Bill Russell and KC Jones playing his last game before going into the service, UCLA with Willie Naulls, Holy Cross with Tommy Heinsohn and Duquesne with Sihugo Green. The Garden had all the five starting All-Americans on the floor that evening. San Francisco won the championship with Big Bill Russell winning the MVP trophy. It was a sensational evening. Eventually the Celtics would get their hands on not only Bill Russell, but also Jones and Heinsohn. These three, along with their hold over stars, Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, would round out the team that eventually initiated Celtic Dynasty.


Red had understood that the excellent shooting Celtics, which had usually led the league in scoring, needed a big center to help them become champions. Russell, who had come out of the West Coast was a defensive specialist and was not seen or known as a scorer. The resident eastern city “poobahs” of basketball had never regarded basketball played out west as comparable to their version. Basketball was seen as a city game, and though Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, and Ohio, which were quite rural, produced some great players, the West Coast was seen as having little potential. Even after the success of Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor, who had graduated a few years later from the University of Seattle, this view would still prevail. That view didn’t change until Johnny Woodin, the Wizard of Westwood, coached his UCLA Bruins to unprecedented heights in the mid and late 1960’s. Ironically the Uclan’s success was due primarily to a transplanted New Yorker, who had graduated from Power Memorial High School in New York City, one Lewis Alcindor. Lew would later star for the Lakers for almost 20 years as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Even though Bill Russell had led the University of San Francisco Dons to 56 straight victories and two NCAA titles, he wasn’t as highly regarded by the NBA scouts. 


Along the way, with my father’s interest in Cousy, and my memorable evening seeing the great Bill Russell, on his way to a then record 56 game winning streak, I became a Celtic fan for life. Red had a combative style that I always enjoyed. Also his love for cigars and Chinese food was dear to the hearts of the Garfunkel’s. Both my father and grandfather were life-long cigar smokers and up until 1959 and the Cuban Revolution they ordered wonderful Laranaga cigars, by the case, directly from Cuba, the Pearl of the Antilles.


Auerbach originally had not wanted Bob Cousy. The Celtics had failed with other local luminaries like Ed Leede from Dartmouth, Tony Lavelli from Yale, and Saul Mariachin and Wyndal Gray from Harvard. They even had taken three earlier stars from Holy Cross, George Kaftan, Dermie O’Donnel and Joe Mullaney and still they couldn’t win or draw fans. Cousy was thought of as another “local yokel!” Though being the greatest collegiate star in New England history, Cousy from Holy Cross, was passed over in the college draft by seven other teams besides the Celtics. Ben Kerner of the Hawks, who drafted 9th reluctantly took him. In the second round, the Celtics and their president Walter Brown made an incredibly unsuspected choice. They drafted the first African-American, one Chuck Cooper of Duquesne, in NBA history. After an awkward silence, a fellow owner asked Brown if he knew Cooper was a Negro? Brown answered, “I don’t care if he’s plaid!” and he snapped, “All I know is this kid can play basketball.” Because of the announcement that five franchises were folding; Sheboygan, Waterloo, Anderson, Denver and St. Louis, there was a rush to sign some of the now newly available talent. At this stage, Cousy was still unsigned. By early October and with the season opener only a few weeks away, another bombshell exploded. The Chicago Stag franchise also folded.


Once again there was a mad scramble for their players. Some opted for teams in lesser leagues, some quit and three remained: Max Zaslofsky, an excellent player, Andy Phillip, one of the best backcourt playmakers and the rookie Bob Cousy. Ben Kerner had traded the rights to Cousy to the now defunct Stags. Because Zaslofsky was in such demand by the Warriors, Knicks and Celtics who each wanted a star player that happened to be Jewish, the Commissioner Maurice Podoloff decided to settle the feuding in the most democratic manner available. Each name was printed on a separate slip of paper and tossed into Danny Biasone’s hat, the owner of the Syracuse Nationals. Ned Irish, of the Knicks, picked first, and got his most fervent wish with former St. John’s star,

Max Zaslofsky’s name on it. Andy Phillip went to Eddie Gottlieb of the Philadelphia Warriors and Brown and the Celtics were left with Cousy. The Celtics also wound up with Ed “Easy Ed” Macauley, who immediately would give them help and would figure in later on as a key piece to their future success.


Of course, the Celtics and Red Auerbach had really lucked out with Cousy. No one could have planned for his name to be left in the hat. They had had many opportunities to sign Cousy, they had seen him play locally for years and they had never really wanted him. Now they were stuck with an unproven rookie who seemed to have a great deal of “flash” but little potential. How wrong they could they be! But in the beginning it wasn’t easy and Red had to fight the press who adored Cousy and didn’t particularly like him. He had to find the right synergy amongst the many new prospects that came to camp in 1950. This adjustment to the untapped and unproven talent of Bob Cousy would be Red’s crucible. With all the pressure on the Celtics to succeed and with everyone anointing Cousy as the embodiment of the “second coming,” Red Auerbach’s survival in Boston was at stake. With Auerbach’s masterful acquisition of Bill Sharman from USC and his convincing Walter Brown to give him the then huge contract of $14,000 per year from their almost empty coffers, they became aesthetically successful. Over the next five seasons they outscored every team in the league but still failed to win a championship. Sharman and Cousy became the greatest backcourt duo in the history of the NBA.


By 1955, the Celtics who had led the league in scoring the three previous seasons understood they needed a big man in the middle. Bill Reinhardt, Red’s old coach from George Washington advised him to keep his eye on San Francisco’s big center Bill Russell. Two great coaches advised Red, Phil Woolpert, of the Dons and Pete Newell of California, along with Fred Scolari and Don Barksdale, who were on the Celtics, that Russell was the genuine article. Therefore Red realized that he had to plan carefully if he wanted to acquire the rights to Russell. Eventually Red learned that his old friend and now nemesis Ben Kerner intended to draft Russell with his second round choice. Cincinnati, who had the first choice, felt they could not afford Russell, who would also be entertaining bids from the Harlem Globetrotters. The Royals already had great rebounding strength from their rookie sensation, the ill-fated Maurice Stokes and were going to draft All-American Sihugo Green. Therefore Red had to make a deal with Kerner. His star center Ed Macauley was from St. Louis and his child had taken ill with spinal meningitis and the young boy was transferred to specialists near his home in St. Louis. Macauley had also graduated and starred at the University of St. Louis and would be anxious to play at home and be near his son. Kerner also demanded that Cliff Hagan be thrown in on the deal. Hagan, who with Frank Ramsey, came from the University of Kentucky, had been drafted a few years earlier, but because they could play another season in college and then had service obligations weren’t available until 1956. Ramsey had played a little for the Celtics when he was discharged early and Hagan was a rookie. Ramsey would later play for the Celtics and become famous as the first “Sixth” man and Hagan went on to star with the Hawks along with Bob Pettit. The Celtics had a “territorial” draft pick and used it to acquire Tommy Heinsohn, another All-American from Holy Cross. When Russell returned in December from Australia with the Olympic Gold medal, and joined the Celtics in mid-season, the “Dynasty” was finally pieced together. The Celtics went on to win eleven of the next thirteen NBA titles. They probably would have won in 1958 but Russell sprained his ankle and the Hawks, led by Petit and Hagan, won the two last games 102-100 and 110-109. In that final game, the great Bob Pettit scored 50 points. Personally I doubt that would have happened if Russell had been healthy. But it did. After that setback, the Celtics went on to win 8 straight titles. It could have easily had been 10!


Meanwhile, over the next few years, doubleheaders were still in fashion at the Garden and I attended one on November 11, (Armistice Day then) 1960. Again the Knicks were playing the Syracuse Nats and the Celtics were up against the resurgent Cincinnati Royals. The Royals had moved from Rochester, as the National Basketball Association abandoned the smaller markets like Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, Tri-Cities and Rochester. The Royals featured the great Oscar Robertson, who had gained immense fame with the University of Cincinnati Bearcat team following his sensational years with Indianapolis’s Crispus Attucks High School. Unfortunately that team gave Oscar little support besides Jack Twyman and Wayne Embry. The Celtics of 1960-1, featured Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Tommy Heinsohn and Sam and KC Jones and were at the peak of their game. They easily outpaced the last place Royals. In that season, out of the 632 games played in the whole NBA, 150 were played on a neutral court. In other words, there were not only many double headers played, but also teams played in smaller cities like Providence or Hartford. In the featured game, the hapless Knicks with Willie Naulls, Iona’s own Richie Guerin, Kenny Sears, and many lesser lights, were beaten by the Nats led by All-Pro, and later Hall of Famer, Dolph Schayes, along with Hal Greer, Red Kerr, Dick Barnett and Larry Costello. By the 1963-4 season, the Syracuse franchise moved to Philadelphia and was renamed the 76ers. The old Philadelphia Warriors moved out west to San Francisco to become a natural rival of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had abandoned Minneapolis after the 1960 season.


When the NBA had originally started in 1946 there were eleven franchises and most of the big cities east of the Mississippi were represented. Even Toronto had a team and the only smaller city was Providence, Rhode Island. In that inaugural year Red got his first NBA job as the coach of the Washington Capitals, and with Bob Feerick, Fred Scolari and Bones McKinney, he led them to an outstanding 49-11 record. Their .814 winning percentage would be the highest in league history until the great Philadelphia 76er team with Wilt Chamberlain established a 68-13 record with a .840 winning percentage. Over those early years, from 1946 through my freshman year at BU in 1963, many changes happened in professional basketball. There were many franchise moves, there was expansion and contraction regarding the size of the league and teams now played on the West Coast.


When I had finally arrived at Boston University, in the fall of 1963, Bob Cousy had just retired from pro basketball and became the coach of Boston College. I loved basketball in those days and played a pretty decent game myself. My old buddy from Mount Vernon and fellow basketball player, sophomore Ken Ackerman, was a starter on the BU basketball team in my freshman year of 1963. BU, which was always a college hockey power, suddenly had a decent basketball team. Often I would drive up Commonwealth Avenue and get on the hard courts with some of the players from BU, BC (Steve Adelman) and other schools and play some old country half-court basketball. BU at that time, played in the Sargent College Field House, and had a great little guard from Oceanside, New Jersey named Ken Leary, a big guy from Maine, nicknamed the “Moose” (Dick Morehead) who for a time led the country in rebounds until grades did him in, and a great shooting forward whose name currently eludes me, who was our big star. They were so good that season that I went to every game. Unfortunately many others didn’t. In a game versus West Point, which had a very scrappy squad, Bob Cousy, the now coach of Boston College, was sitting virtually alone on the sparsely filled visitor’s side of the gym. He was scouting both teams. I spotted him immediately, and told my friends that I would switch sides, and say hello to the “Cooz.” I did just that and sat down next to the legend. Eventually I said hello, told him I was a great fan of his and the Celts, and he was polite enough to talk to me for a moment or two and then I let him get on with his work. Cousy had some great teams with Boston College with his great backcourt star Johnny Austin from Washington DC. He was a fabulous recruiter and some of the BC players told me that they were always in awe with him during every practice. Unfortunately a story came out in Life Magazine about how the New York District Attorney, Frank Hogan (Mr. DA) had questioned Cousy about point-shaving in the early 1950’s and in the article it alluded to many other unsubstantiated inferences and rumors about Cousy and gamblers. The article was a hatchet job and Cousy fought it vigorously. Later Life Magazine, embarrassed about their sources,backed away from their story. But the damage was done, and Cousy who had been growing disillusioned with college basketball, and the pressure to recruit, thought about making a career change. At the end of the 1969 season he resigned from Boston College and that was the end of the New England era for Cousy that had started in 1946. Cousy joined the Cincinnati, and later Kansas City-Omaha Royals as a coach for five seasons. He never had a winning season, and retired in 1974 with a 141-209 record. Cousy eventually joined the Celtic broadcast team and has been with the club ever since. Being in Boston, I was able to get to the Garden often and the battles between Russell and Chamberlain, who had been in San Francisco in 1963-4 and then was traded back to the Philadelphia 76ers, were legendary.


But, from my perspective Bob Cousy was still “Mr. Basketball.” He was the ideal for all of us who were not giants. I cannot really complain because I was never really short, but it was easier for most basketball fans and players to relate to a star at 6’ 1” rather than one who was 6’ 10” or a 7-footer. Of course life went on without Cousy on the Celtics, and as long as Russell was there success was never far away. They kept on winning. Auerbach was always ahead of the curve. He drafted John Havlicek out of Ohio State, and even though he was also not considered a scorer he developed into one of the greatest basketball players of his time. Sam Jones and KC Jones took over seamlessly for Sharman and Cousy and Havlicek replaced Frank Ramsey.


In 1966 I attended the National Invitation Tournament in Madison Square Garden, the one-time Mecca of college basketball. This was a place where basketball had made its name in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Of course the whole sport had become tarnished with the point-shaving scandals in the late 1940’s. The scandal had reached a white-hot meltdown proportion with Manhattan DA Frank Hogan’s investigation of the local colleges. It started with a Manhattan College player named Junius Kellogg, who said he had been offered $1000 to “shave” points. Of course this meant to make the game closer and effect the bookmaker’s “point-spread” on the game. Initially this meant that the player would still try to win the game, but to make the score or “spread” closer. But, now and again, a heavily favored team would lose, and this brought about immediate scrutiny from the press. Eventually, this investigative dragnet, would envelope and ensnare the whole starting five of the CCNY team. The fabled Kangeroos of CCNY, under the coaching tutelage of venerable, legendary and scrupulously honest Nat Holman, had won both the NCAA and NIT Tourneys in 1950. Eventually players from LIU and NYU were also caught in the ever-spreading net. The scandal eventually ruined the careers of both Holman (1896-1995, Holman coached for 37 years with a record of 421-190, later came back to CCNY and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.) and the brilliant Claire Bee (1896-1979, the author of the “Chip Hilton” books) the longtime coach of LIU. It was said by one influential columnist that “basketball as a big-time sport was dead.” Because of the collapse of college basketball at the Garden, pro basketball was able to prosper as it filled in the vacuum created by the scandal and the cancelled college schedule. Scandals did not end in the early 1950’s. They would pop up again in the early 1960’s with more problems involving New York schools. NYU was especially hard hit, but by the time I playing the game and was running off to the Garden for Holiday Festival Triple-headers I could care less. In a few short years, the scandal at NYU (Ray Paprocky, I believe!) was seen as a localized event and most of the bad publicity was soon forgotten.


One great and lasting college basketball memory occurred when I came to the new Garden, on a cool March 19, 1966 afternoon, with Mount Vernon friend and NYU junior Alan Rosenberg. A good NYU (15-9) team, led by former White Plains star guard Mal Graham, met lily-white Brigham Young  (17-5) in the National Invitation Tournament finals. NYU had beaten DePaul, Wichita and Villanova, while Brigham Young had defeated Temple and Army. Graham, a high school All-American, who had torched Mount Vernon High School, in our senior year (1962-3) for 42 points in two separate games, led the Violets with an outstanding average of around 25 points per game. The next year he would average 29 points per game and be second in the nation in scoring. The other star on NYU was the 6’4” Bruce Kaplan from James Madison High School in Brooklyn. When we arrived Alan took me into the locker room where I met Graham and Kaplan. It was my first and last time that I was in the locker room of the Garden and unfortunately it was a blowout for the Mormans from Utah, whose quick guards ran the Violets ragged and won going away, 97-84. Interestingly, the coach of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was the famous Bobby Knight, who was an Ohio State teammate of two of the current Celtics, John Havlicek and Larry Siegfried. When I was in college I got to meet Siegfried at a number of Boston University parties. Knight always felt he was a better ballplayer than Siegfried. They were both selected in the 1962 NBA draft and both wound up sitting at the end of the bench of their respective teams. Siegfried was signed for $1000 bonus and Knight for $500. When it came time for cuts to be made by their respective teams, Knight was cut because his team had only invested $500 in him, wherein Siegfried, who was on the Cincinnati Royals was kept around because $1000 was a larger investment. Siegfried was eventually cut and Red Auerbach, and the Celtics, liked his style of play. He remained there for years, and contributed mightily as a scrappy ballplayer who collected 6 championship rings and averaged over 13 points per game for a number of seasons. After a 9-year career, in which he averaged over 10 points per game, he retired. Knight felt he should have been drafted higher than Siegfried and therefore gotten a bigger bonus. He blamed his low draft position to a poor performance in Madison Square Garden. His father had died right before a tournament and the scouts, who were all there, saw an underachieving Bobby Knight.


Of course the interesting thing about that day at the Garden was the fact that the Knicks were playing the Celtics that evening and all of Boston players were hanging around the Garden and watching the game. I was able to get the autographs of Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havlicek and Tom Sanders. I still have the program will Mal Graham’s signature prominently in the middle. When I walked up to Red Auerbach, I asked him for his autograph, but he was in a hurry, I couldn’t find a pen and he was in no mood to stop and pull out one of his own. That was Red. He was always in a hurry, always pretty gruff and had little patience for anyone who happened to get in his way. It is over 40 years ago and I can still see him in his plaid jacket, his raincoat on his arm, his cigar clenched in his mouth and his classic rolled up scorecard. Meanwhile the Celtics must of liked what they saw with Mal Graham, because they drafted him a year later after a great senior year. Mal played a few years with the Celtics, but got sick and his career was cut short. Graham wound up going to law school and eventually became a judge in Boston and to this day remains a friend of Alan Rosenberg.


Eventually Auerbach would retire from coaching after that same 1966 season. It was just too much to be doing everything. He had been the General Manager, coach, chief scout, the road secretary, the public relations and the marketing person and almost everything else. He remained the General Manager, and when he retired he asked Cousy to coach the Celtics, but Cousy turned it down. He was still under contract to Boston College. Bill Russell became the coach, and they were able to win two more titles. It was interesting that Auerbach, who was instrumental in drafting the first black player, Chuck Cooper, also fielded the first all-black lineup in an NBA game, and went on to select the first black coach in a major American sport. Russell, after having his best record in his first year (60-21) was knocked out of the playoffs by the great Philadelphia 76er team, led by Wilt Chamberlain. That team would win a then record 68 games and beat the San Francisco Warrior team that had left Philadelphia with Wilt a number of years before. Russell would coach two more years with the Celtics, and though his aging team would not win a division title again, they would prevail in the NBA finals and he would add two more World Championship pennants to the Garden rafters. Russell retired after the 1969 season and most thought the Celtic dominance had ended forever. (He later came back in 1973 later to coach four mediocre years with the Seattle Supersonics.) But the Auerbach magic would continue and he was able to fashion two more championships eras with newcomers like Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, Don Chaney, and Don Nelson and eventually the final run with Larry Bird.


After a four-year hiatus, in 1974, The Celtics were able to return to the championship ranks with a team blended with veterans like John Havlicek and a newcomer from Kentucky via Florida State University, named Dave Cowens. Red picked Cowens in the first round, and this unlikely small-sized center brought incredible energy and spirit to the newly resurrected Celtic franchise, that had added new additions like Don Nelson, Jo Jo White, Paul Silas, Don Chaney, ML Carr, and Charley Scott.


Cowens would play his heart and body out over the next seven years and the Celtics were able to again win a title in 1976. But bigger stronger teams were starting to dominate the undersized Celtics and their aging field captain John Havlicek. Finally when both Cowens and Havlicek were gone from the scene the Celtics had not won a title in four long seasons. Auerbach was faced with the daunting challenge of trying to create another winning chapter. Few coaches are able to win just one championship. The first era that had ended with Russell, had produced 11 championship banners in 13 years. With Red’s pick of John Havlicek in 1962, no one could have ever predicted that this barely heralded and light scoring (only average 14.6 points per game at Ohio State) player would last 16 years and average almost 21 points per game over 1200 regular season games and over 22 points per game in a record 172 playoff games. Havlicek would retire with eight championship rings, become a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and be selected to the NBA’s 35th All-Time team. Only Auerbach could have found a player like Havlicek and made him into an all-time great. But now he was gone, along with the other retired Celtic greats who he either played with or had just followed: Sharman, Cousy, Sam and KC Jones, Ramsey, Sanders, Russell and a host of other roll players. Cowens would retire early and Auerbach had to re-build once again.


With his brilliant foresight, Red picked the little known Larry Bird as a junior in 1978. The next year Bird exploded on center stage in the NCAA finals with his lightly regarded Indiana State Sycamore team. In a titanic struggle, in the finals against Michigan State, against the 2.5 year younger Ervin “Magic” Johnson Jr., Larry Bird established not only his mark, but also justified Red Auerbach’s foresight and confidence in his ability.


It would not be long before Bird led the Celtics back into first place in their division and titles in 1981, 1984 and 1986. Bird was sensational. He was a perennial all-star, a three time MVP, a first team all-NBA starter and a great scorer and all-around player. The Celtic team was re-built from the bottom up and Bird’s teammates, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge would comprise one of the greatest five man lineups in basketball history. Their playoff battles with the Lakers were legendary. Competition was stronger than ever and teams like the Knicks with Patrick Ewing, the 76ers with Moses Malone and the Bulls with Michael Jordan were always challenging the Celtics for supremacy in the East. From Bird’s first season in 1979-80, and through the next eight years the Celtics would finish first in their division eight times and second once. In that period they would be one of the most successful and exciting teams in basketball history.


As the Larry Bird era drew to a close, injuries and old age ended the Celtic dominance. Unfortunately with the untimely deaths on Len Bias and Reggie Lewis we won’t know whether Red would have been able to fashion a fourth winning chapter. In truth the retirement of Larry Bird ended the Celtics great run of success that lasted for almost 35 years. Will there ever be another run like that, directed by one man, who knows? But it won’t be for me. It certainly may happen in the future one day, but with the retirement of Larry Bird and the death of Red Auerbach my love affair with basketball has all but ended.


My All-Time Celtic Team 1950-1990


First                   Second               Third               Fourth

Center                    Bill Russell  Bob Parrish  Dave Cowens               Ed Macauley               

Forward            John Havlicek            Kevin McHale            Tom Sanders       Bailey Howell                          

Forward            Larry Bird      Tom Heinsohn          Reggie Lewis       Cedric Maxwell

Guard               Bob Cousy  Bill Sharman           Jo Jo White         Nate Archibald

Guard               Sam Jones    Dennis Johnson  KC Jones       Frank Ramsey           


Fifth                            Super Subs

Wayne Embry              ML Carr

Don Nelson                  Jim Luscutoff

Paul Silas                      Gene Conley

Danny Ainge                 Larry Siegfried

Gerald Henderson        Bill Walton

            Willie Naulls          



My impressions of the Celtics


Russell was the greatest of all players. He was like a giant bird of prey. His timing was impeccable and brought an incredible level and style of defense to the sport that had never existed before. Before Russell and the 24-second clock, which forced a team to take a shot within a time parameter, basketball was slow, defensive, plodding and very physical. Games could be slowed down to a crawl. With the advent of the 24-second rule the game opened up and scoring increased immediately. The “fast-break,” which was instituted by guards like the pre-war stars Hank Luisetti and Bob Davies, came into its own with Cousy who made it into an art form. When Russell came into the fray he became the engine of that system. Russell’s ability to block shots, to intimidate the opposition and to control the ball after it was blocked was unique. Almost no one else could do what he did, and even today 50 years later, no one has really mastered that skill at the level Russell had developed right from the start. Others who followed batted the ball away, like Chamberlain. But Russell not only grabbed rebounds, both defensive, but the all important offensive ones, but he set up the fast break with his remarkable outlet passes from controlling the blocked shots of his opponents. That was and still remains unique. Others like Jerry Lucas, Bill Walton and Wes Unseld were strong and mobile and could move the ball and shoot. But they did not have Russell’s uncanny timing, and they could not shut down the middle off to the opposition like Russell could. I went to the Boston Garden often and the games that I saw that pitted Russell against Wilt Chamberlain were monumental. The “Wilt” was unlike any other athletic specimen. No one could stop him, but at least Russell could keep him contained. The fact that Chamberlain averaged 50.4 point per game throughout one season (1961-2) probably remains the most remarkable achievement in sport’s history. Therefore without Russell in his way, Chamberlain would have bulldozed the whole league and owned all of the championship banners that were available. The Russell-Chamberlain rivalry was probably the greatest confrontation in the history of sport. It far outweighed; Borg-McEnroe, Jimmy Brown-Sam Huff, Joe DiMaggio-Bob Feller, Helen Wills-Helen Jacob, Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johanson, Ali-Frazier, Gordie Howe-Rocket Richard, Bird-Magic, or even War Admiral and Seabiscuit. In this greatest of all battles between these titans of the game, Russell and Chamberlain matched up 142 times, not counting All-Star or exhibition games. Wilt; who outweighed Big Bill by 50 pounds, and was at least 5 inches taller even grabbed an amazing 55 rebounds against him in 1960. But in these classic struggles Russell’s Celtic teams won 86 games or 60.6% of the time. In those 142 games, Chamberlain averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds per game, wherein Russ averaged 14.5 points and 23.7 rebounds per game. In their respective careers, including both regular season and playoffs Russell averaged 15.24 points per game and 22.8 rebounds, while The Wilt averaged 29.07 points per game and 23.10 rebounds per game. Statistically there is no “smoking gun” between them. Russell and Auerbach always felt that Chamberlain would get his points, so it was more critical to limit his teammate’s contributions and therefore win the game. Russell could shoot when he wanted to and averaged between 16 and 18 points per game through his middle years with the Celts. The truth is that Russell didn’t have to shoot and was much happier and productive setting up his teammates.


Bob Cousy was the magician. Though never a jump shot artist like West, Robertson or Sam Jones, Cousy was the classic “point” guard, who was the ultimate field general. He could be ahead of the field finishing off a lay-up, could do a behind the back dribble and his trademark play was to swing the ball behind his back to his other hand while he was in the air driving toward the basket. Sometimes he would pass off to a teammate for an assist, and often he would score. He had a one-handed set shot and could easily hit a hook shot from either hand. He had titanic struggles against Bob Davies the great guard from Rochester who was eight years older, and regarded Slater “Dugie” Martin of the old Minneapolis Lakers and St. Louis Hawks as his greatest rival and toughest competitor. Cousy was an emotional person and player and always had to conquer self-doubts, but he grew into a “legend in his own time.” He had a great role in publicizing the positive aspects of professional basketball. Though he was not as big and strong as Robertson, or as gifted in shooting like West, Sam Jones or Hal Greer, he had leadership skills that were unique. He also had great a dribbling talent that few could match. All in all, Bob Cousy was one of my great favorites, whom I’ll never forget.


Larry “The Legend” Bird was obviously one of the greatest ballplayers who has ever lived. The “hick” from French Lick, Indiana, was a remarkable athlete. He wasn’t insanely strong, fast or able to leap through the sky. But he could shoot, and shoot in the clutch. He could pass with any “big man” who has ever played. He could rebound, and find the “open” man. In his great rivalry with Julius Erving, if one would compare Bird’s ten year career with Erving’s first ten years in the league, one would see Bird’s dominance. Bird played 717 games to Dr. J’s 776. Bird averaged 25 point per game to Erving’s 22.4. He out rebounded him 7319 to 5337 and out passed him with 4396 assists to Erving’s 3023. Their field goal percentage was almost the same .503 to .508 with an edge to Dr. J. Bird out shot him from the free throw line .880 to .775. Bird could take the ball up the court, could shoot from the inside and outside and he even scored 60 points in one game against Atlanta. I will always remember Larry Bird’s steal of an inbound pass by Isiah Thomas with about 2 seconds left in a playoff game. With the Celtics down by a point and almost no time left, Bird was guarding Thomas from in-bounding a pass. Bird faked running up the court, reversed himself and intercepted Thomas’s pass. In one motion he fed the on-charging Dennis Johnson who made the lay-up as the game-ending buzzer sounded. This reamrkable play snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and I consider it the greatest play in basketball history. Even the famous and oft repeated,  “Havlicek steals the ball” doesn’t compare with that heady play. It is now almost twenty years since the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson-Michael Jordan rivalries. The NBA was overloaded with stars and Larry Bird was at the top of his game and few would not rate him as good or better than those two other luminaries.


When John Havlicek came out of Ohio State University, no one had any idea how good he would become. By the time he had finished his sixteen glorious seasons he would own many of the Celtic records. No one played more games, more minutes or scored more points than “Hondo.” He was second to Larry Bird in points per game and averaged over 36 minutes per game in those 16 years. Only Russell averaged more. Havlicek had great endurance and though he started his career as a “sixth” man, replacing Frank “The Kentucky Colonel” Ramsey in that role, he often got into the game quite quickly and had the uncanny ability, not unlike Ramsey, of hitting his first shot. He could break the back of the opposition and when he became a full-time starter he was capable of playing a 46+ minute basketball game. He was always on the run, was exceptionally strong and for a small forward at 6’5,” he accumulated over 8000 rebounds. He turned into a great scorer and eight years in a row he averaged over 20 points per game with one season at 28.9. He was steady, consistent, in control of his emotions, and a consummate team player. Probably no one in the history of the professional game was able to come from college, where he only averaged only 14 points per game, and then become one of the NBA’s greatest scorers. His heart was immense, his dedication was unsurpassed and his desire to win was remarkable and he could outrun anyone in basketball history.


Sam Jones, who hailed from little North Carolina Central College, was another one of Red Auerbach’s diamonds in the rough. No one knew who he was and “Sudden Sam” or “Slippery” as he was variously known by, eventually reached the Basketball hall of Fame. His .456 shooting percentage from the field wasn’t too far behind all-time greats Jerry West and the Oscar “The Big O” Robertson. He started as a backup guard with KC Jones and for the first few years he and KC would come off the bench and bring excitement and speed onto the floor while replacing the all-star duo of Cousy and Sharman. After Sharman retired at the end of the 1961 season, Jones became a full-time starter with Cousy and his scoring dramatically increased. In his early days his trademark shot was a bank shot off the glass, but eventually he realized that using the backboard didn’t help him from the corners or at the top of the key. He was incredibly fast and could stop off the dribble and hit a jump shot from any place on the floor. His first step was legendary and that was why he got the nickname “Sudden Sam.” He was a great shooter that always could be counted on for a clutch basket. He was always up in the top 15 in scoring from the time he became a starter through his next seven years. Though a quiet, and undemonstrative player he always got the job done.


As a lifetime Celtic fan I have appreciated many of the other great players who have stepped on the famous parquet floor of the old Boston Garden. I was there many times in my four years at Boston University and I could not close without mentioning a few others.


Tommy “Tommy the Gun” Heinsohn was a great shooter from the corner, a rough player who never quit and a forward that could play the inside with the best of his peers. Through most of his career he was always near the top of the Celtic scoring. KC Jones was a great running guard who was tenacious on defense. He was a great athlete like Havlicek and could have starred at almost any sport. When Cousy retired he was again paired with Sam Jones and they led the Celtics to a number of championships. He was always a winner. Bill Sharman was also a multi-talented athlete that was originally signed by the Dodgers and was touch as nails. He was an amateur boxer and on the foul line he was an all-time great. He was famous for his great lifetime free throw shooting percentage of .883 that still leads the Celtics. He averaged over 18 points per game was a great shot from the outside and was the perfect complement to Cousy’s ball-handling and court leadership. He was a first and second team NBA all-star seven times, a Hall of Famer and named to the NBA’s 25th anniversary all-time team. Bob Parrish and Kevin McHale were great stars of the Bird era. Parrish was solid in the middle and Kevin McHale was certainly one of the best inside players in NBA history. He was almost unstoppable when he was near the basket. Both Parrish and McHale played very hard and were both excellent shooters. McHale’s shooting percentage ranks him highest in Celtic history and he was not far from the top in all of NBA history. From my vantage point they both were integral pieces in those great Celtic teams. In 10 seasons from 1980-1 until 1989-90 the threesome of Bird, Parrish and McHale averaged between 50 and 68 point per game every year. For six of those seasons, that threesome averaged over 60 points per game. In other words, they were consistently great!


I could not leave out Dennis Johnson when discussing the great Bird era. DJ, as he was known, was one of the top guards of all-time and was an excellent ball-handler and ball-hawk! He is often forgotten when one discusses other Celtic guards like Cousy, Sharman, Sam Jones, Jo Jo White and Nat Archibald, but he was big, fast, strong and an excellent shooter. He could also rebound for his size and with three big men up front, Parrish, Bird and McHale he was still able to snare his share off the boards. Dave Cowens had great heart and incredible hustle. Both Cowens and Siegfried picked up many proverbial splinters diving for balls and rolling around the court. Cowens could score from the outside and even with his legendary match-ups with all-time great Kareem Abdul Jabbar he was able to win ten games in a row against his giant rival. Two others deserve important mention; Tom “Satch’ Sanders and Paul Silas. Sanders, who was drafted by the Celtics from NYU, played his entire career with them, was an under-rated defensive genius. He was always assigned the top scorer on the other side of the court. He was unheralded, but was an essential part of their championships. Paul Silas was one of the many role players like Clyde Lovelette, Willie Naulls, Don Nelson and Wayne Embry. He was also a successful sixth man in the tradition of Ramsey, Havlicek, McHale and Bill Walton. He came to the Celtics at 29 and in four seasons established his mark. Even while playing only an average of 31 minutes per game over those four years he was able to average more than 1000 rebounds per season and over ten points per game.


There were many others over the years that contributed mightily, but the real success of the Celtics was embodied in the heart and mind of Red Auerbach. Many of the others came and went, but he remained. He survived owners great and horrible. He transcended different eras and the changing sociological clock. He remained the one constant that held this great franchise together. All the many fans and foes of the Celtics, who lived through that 56-year era, will never forget him.