I have been around a while.
Raised in Plainfield, New Jersey in the 1950's, I still remember standing on line at our local library to check out books. What then took several minutes on the best of days now takes a matter of seconds at today's digital self-checkout stations. Our first car was a Kaiser-Frazier, replaced in 1957 by a white Two Ten Chevrolet station wagon: basically the Belair without the chrome in the indented fin.
We got our first television, a 21-inch Admiral, in 1955 when my father finally comprehended the injustice of my having to watch the World Series at our local Department store. In 1956, I sang Love Me Tender to adoring relatives at Thanksgiving, both my inaugural and farewell concert. In 1958, my parents took me to see Carmen at the old Metropolitan Opera House. I resisted but when the title role was played by the fiery and charismatic Rise Stevens. I was in love. I mourned her tragic death in Act IV but amazingly she was able to send me a lovely autographed picture a few weeks later.
My father was a commercial artist, my mother a school secretary in one of Plainfield's elementary schools. He drew comics for many years (Gabby Hayes and Captain Midnight). In the late 1940's, however, horror comics, to which my father objected, came into their own, causing him to switch over to illustrating books and designing brochures for college textbooks. In retrospect, my sister and I realize that there were some lean years but to our parent's credit, we never felt them. I have not inherited one iota of my father's talent. Even my stick figures are virtually unrecognizable.
The 1960 presidential election ignited my interest in politics and in Appendix V of Do We Have A Center I share a few memories from that election.
In 1963, I graduated Plainfield High School. I was a good student with a nice group of friends and felt nothing like the stress I read about in today's high schools. In retrospect, I see it as an innocent time, understanding now – but not then – what a difficult world it still was for minorities, gays and women longing for roles other than wife and mother. It was also a time of widely shared prosperity.
In November of 1963, my first year at the University of Pennsylvania -- tuition for the academic year was a little over $1,400 -- John Kennedy was assassinated. Somehow, for my generation, that moment was a watershed, the moment we understood that nobody --not even this handsome, witty, much loved President -- enjoyed the protection of the gods.
My own life, however, proceeded on a fairly even course, as it has really to this day. I graduated in 1967 from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude with special honors in history for an essay on the American Revolution. Then in 1970 I graduated from Columbia Law School, practiced for a few years in San Francisco with an old-line (now defunct) San Francisco firm (Chickering & Gregory), and then returned east joining the Law Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in January 1975. I stayed for 30 personally fulfilling years, the last ten as Chief of its Commercial Litigation Division.
I retired in 2005 to pursue an interest in constitutional law. It had begun during my stint on the Princeton Regional School Board, when I was forced to consider the issue of student free speech rights. In retirement, I first wrote several law review articles dealing with various aspects of constitutional law as it impacted on our elections process, focusing particularly on gerrymandering. I then wrote my first book, Making Sense of the Constitution, published in 2012, followed two years later by Law and the Gay Rights Story. I was pleased that they were both well-received.
In 2016, I closely followed the general election campaign. I describe my reasons for writing Do We Have a Center in the book's Introduction.
On a personal note, I have been married to my wife Lydia for forty-four years. We have been blessed with two wonderful children and four unsurpassed grandchildren. I am currently a citizen representative on the bioethics committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. I also serve as co-chair of the Law and Literature Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association.