Rainy day in­ter­view

Easy Does It

The Advance of Bucks County - - WORD ON THE STREET - Ge­orge Robin­son

The Lind­bergh Baby ap­proached me in the lobby of the news­pa­per where years ago, I was a re­porter. He grinned and ex­ten­nded his hand. He had a firm hand­shake for a lit­tle guy push­ing hard past 70 years of age.

“Go see what the guy in the lobby wants,” my edi­tor had said. That’s how the Lind­bergh Baby and I met in 1972. I’ve never seen him since.

Later at the pa­per, telling the story around the wa­ter cooler and short­en­ing names so we could talk faster about how our day went, we started call­ing my vis­i­tor and as­sign­ment for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, Mr. Baby.

“So what did Mr. Baby want?” my edi­tor asked. He hadn’t read my story, and never did. The rea­son is be­cause he told me not to bother writ­ing Mr. Baby’s story even af­ter I was able to read my own scrib­bled notes of the in­ter­view.

I was given the rare plea­sure of de- posit­ing all my in­ter­view’s hen scratches and even part of my type­writ­ten trans­la­tion in the round file next to my desk.

So now I’m sum­ming up as best I can re­mem­ber of my in­ter­view with the guy who claimed to be the son of avi­a­tor Charles Lind­bergh.

“You mean the fa­mous flyer’s son who was kid­napped back in the thir­ties and mur­dered by Bruno Richard Haupt­mann? The body dis­cov­ered in 1936 in a par­tially cov­ered grave four long years af­ter the crime? We on the same page here?” asked one of pho­togs.

“That’s right. But there’s more to the story,” I said.

In the lobby in 1972, Mr. Baby greeted me warmly as if grate­ful for be­ing out of the rain and find­ing some­one who would lis­ten to his story all in the same day. Shak­ing rain­wa­ter off his thin soaked coat, Mr. Baby man­aged to set­tle in the least un­com­fort­able lobby chair, mo­tioned for me to sit across from him, and be­gan to re­late his ver­sion of “the crime of the cen­tury.”

Or as he liked to re­fer to it, “an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture” back in the thir­ties.

I could barely keep my pen­cil go­ing fast enough to keep up with the words spilling from mouth.

Yes, yes, he was the son and name­sake of Charles Au­gus­tus Lind­bergh, the fa­mous flyer, barn­stormer and dare­devil pilot once known all over the world.

And yes, he was 30 months old when he was be­ing lifted from his crib and car­ried from his nurs­ery through a sec­ond­floor win­dow to a lad­der lean­ing against in the fam­ily es­tate in Hopewell, NJ. It was early evening, March 1, 1932, just be­fore 9 o’clock.

Just be­fore 10 o’clock his fa­vorite nurse, Betty Gow, en­tered the nurs­ery to find Mr. Baby miss­ing from his crib on that first day of March so very long ago.

And when he closes his eyes and thinks back, he re­mem­bers one hour ear­lier, 9 o’clock, the feel­ing of be­ing gen­tly lifted from his crib, car­ried down a lad­der lean­ing against the side of the house by some­one talk­ing gen­tly, sooth­ingly, kindly to him.

“Have you got all that?” Mr. Baby sud­denly wanted to know, con­cen­trat­ing on my reaction to his story. “There’s more, you know.”

He con­tin­ued, ex­plain­ing why he wasn’t dead. An­other baby who had died of a ter­ri­ble child­hood dis­ease a few days ear­lier was the kid­nap­per’s own child. So dis­traught by the tragedy, the mys­te­ri­ous un­known man who bore Mr. Baby down the lad­der that March night in 1932 soon adopted him as his own child, raised him, loved and cher­ished him, taught him, and saw him grow to man­hood.

I held Mr. Baby’s thin wet coat while he slipped it on. The first and only time I saw him was that chance meet­ing in 1972, a quick exit, and that hard rain. My story never was printed.

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