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Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Trial of the Century 2: Charles and Anne

ᴛʜᴇ sᴇᴄᴏɴᴅ ᴘᴏsᴛ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪɴᴅʙᴇʀɢʜ ᴛʀɪᴀʟ sᴇʀɪᴇs.

ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛʟʏ ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜɪɴɢ: ɪᴛᴇᴍs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛʟʏ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜᴇᴅ ᴍᴀʏ ʙᴇ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴀs ᴛɪᴍᴇ ɢᴏᴇs ᴏɴ. ᴛʜɪs ɪs ᴛʜᴇ sᴇᴄᴏɴᴅ ᴘᴏsᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛʜɪs ᴄᴀsᴇ.

When you’re a kid, you love to hate your hometown.  As I’ve grown up, I realized how much I missed being at home.  

I live in a part of New Jersey where suburban touches on rural.  Yes, I’m a two-minute drive from a strip mall, but I’m also a two-minute drive from gorgeous fields of corn and grain, or a dairy farm, or thick, deciduous woods.

Yes, this is really New Jersey. Photo © Heart 2015.

It's a small town, so it's easy to diss us. Yet Flemington clings to its label as "historic." That's not unusual for small towns, of course - but unlike most, Flemington actually has legitimacy to this claim.

You see, there was a time when Flemington was the full to the brim with press and tabloid reporters, clamboring over each other for the grasp at the biggest story in the nation. Police were sent out in droves to herd screaming crowds turning out to see the biggest celebrity in the world in court. They sat on each other's shoulders to peek in the courtroom windows and camped outside the courthouse for hours on end. Their chants were so loud that the judge had to stop the proceedings and call a recess for police to calm the tides of spectators, since the witness testimony couldn't be heard by the jury. The inns were bursting with visitors, the streets were clogged, and the town was in pandemonium. There was a time when Flemington held the Trial of the Century.

The year was 1932...

And America was sinking deep into an economic depression following the stock market crash of 1929.  Employment was hard to come by in the States, and even more so in Europe, which was recovering from the end of World War One.  Germany was having a particularly rough time, with unemployment rates nearing 30%. 

Yet it was still an exciting time.  The Model T Ford had been around for only 24 years, and the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk had taken place just 29 years ago.  The new technology of motorized travel captured the imagination of the young son of a Congressman, Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lucky Lindy

Lindbergh briefly pursued an engineering degree at University of Wisconsin, but dropped out in his sophomore year and enrolled in flight school instead, flying for the first time ever on April 9, 1922.

 Lindbergh, left, circa 1922

After gaining some civilian flight experience and making his way across the country barnstorming, wing-walking, and parachuting, Lindbergh was ordered to report for a year of military flight training with the US Army Air Service in 1924.  Not currently needing pilots, however, he returned to civilian flight after this year was over.  Lindbergh remained a reserve pilot and joined the Missouri National Guard, where he was shortly promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Lindbergh became a Contract Air Mail pilot in 1925, and in 1927, rocketed to worldwide fame when he received the Orteig Prize.  First offered in 1919, the Prize was to be rewarded to the first allied aviator (or aviators) who flew nonstop from New York City to Paris.  At this point in time, Lindbergh was a relatively unknown pilot, and six well-known aviators had already lost their lives in pursuit of the Orteig Prize.  

On Friday, May 20, 1932, Lindbergh took off in his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, surrounded by a crowd of spectators...

...and, after 33.5 hours of flying, Lindbergh arrived safely at Le Bouget in Paris, France...

...surrounded by a cheering crowd of 150,000 spectators, who dragged him out of the plane and carried him around on their shoulders for a half hour before his team "rescued" him.

I can't make this stuff up.

Following this, "Lucky Lindy" was, as I said, a world-wide celebrity and aviation hero.  He arrived home in America and was thrown a ticker-tape parade through the streets of New York.  Back when a ticker-tape parade was, seriously, a ticker-tape parade:

Guys?  Somebody has to clean that up.


The point is, Lindbergh was now A Big Deal.  The Biggest Deal.  This was the 1930s, and there wasn't much to be happy about, and Lindbergh was not just a national hero - he was the biggest celebrity in the world.

Lindbergh receiving the Orteig Prize.

Anne Morrow

portrait of Anne from the cover of McCall's, March 1937

Quiet, reserved Anne Morrow was the daughter of an intelligent, ambitious couple: Dwight Morrow, a partner in J.P. Morgan who then became the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and the poet and teacher Elizabeth Cutter, who became acting president of Smith College.  The couple fostered these values in their four children, and Anne soon became a blossoming writer herself.  Anne attended Smith College herself, eventually graduating in 1928.  

In December of 1927, Lindbergh accepted an offer from Dwight Morrow to accompany him on a trip to Mexico.  Lindbergh, of course, flew himself, and was greeted by a screaming crowd of 150,000 people in Mexico City.

There, Lindbergh met his future wife, and was drawn to her quiet and contemplative nature.  He wrote in his autobiography, 

I had always taken for granted that someday I would marry and have a family of my own, but I had not thought much about it. In fact, I had never been enough interested in any girl to ask her to go on a date.
Anne wrote of her relationship with Lindbergh,
The man I was to marry believed in me and what I could do, and consequently I found I could do more than I realized.
Charles taught Anne to fly, and she became the first woman to receive a glider pilot's license in 1930. She would become his companion and co-pilot on his trips around the world.


Anne and Charles preparing to leave Roosevelt Field, 1929.  NYT

The two wed in a surprise ceremony at the Morrow residence in Englewood.


The Lindberghs spent much time trying to avoid the spotlight of their celebrity.  After their surprise wedding, they managed to keep the location of their honeymoon secret, despite the best efforts of paparazzi to find them.  They wanted to make their home secluded as well.
...with the birth of their first son a year later, [the Lindberghs] began their search for a place away from the glare of public attention and the confines of the Morrow estate in Englewood, New Jersey to raise a family. The site later known as "Highfields" was to be the Lindbergh first permanent home. In Autobiography of Values, Lindbergh noted that he and his wife found the site of their future home on the Sourland Mountain near Hopewell after an extensive aerial and ground search for a secluded spot within commuting distance by air and car of New York. According to Lindbergh, the rural site had many things to recommend it: cheap land, stone for building, seclusion, sweeping views, and abandoned fields "long enough to make an airplane landing strip...I would be able to taxi right into a small hangar that I planned to have constructed next to our garage."  National Register of Historic Places (PDF). 
Highfields from the air.  Source, kevkon on ProBoards


Biography of Charles - Wikipedia.  Images - various; due to the age, I'm ruling these too difficult to cite properly, they're all over the place.

Biography of Anne --   The second picture is from Pintrest.  Anne's Wikipedia, and PBS

Up Next:  March 1, 1932

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