Henry Wallace, FDR’s second vice president, was a genuine liberal, a pretty remarkable guy.
My path crossed with his several times a day, over a lot of years, because his portrait hung on the wall of the downstairs hallway in my previous home.
Terry Gallowhur, one of the founders of our teeny little co-op in a West Village townhouse, had an older adoptive relative who painted in oils. He wasn’t very good (my opinion), although the portraits were recognizable as real human beings. Some of them even looked like people I’d want to meet.
One of those portraits–presumably not from a live sitting–was of Henry Wallace. Occasionally a visitor would pause in front of the portrait and murmur, “Isn’t that–?”
You see, Terry owned a pre-Revolutionary War farmhouse in Vermont. One day he told me that he had hundreds of his relative’s paintings sitting in a barn up there and did I think anyone would mind if he hung some of them in the hallways of our house.
“Mind?” I said. “It’d be great.” The halls, although newly painted a becoming shade of creamy sort of yellow (I chose the color), were narrow and bare.
And so Terry brought about twenty oils down to the Village and hung them in the halls. And indeed it made the place look inviting and homey. That is how I crossed paths with Henry Wallace whenever I entered and exited.
Today, Henry Wallace’s grandson, Henry Scott Wallace, published an essay about a visionary opinion piece, “The Danger of American Fascism,” which his grandfather wrote for the Times in 1944. The comparisons with our current situation today blew my mind.
I am recalling with fondness that portrait of Henry Wallace. Had I known he was this brilliant and this prescient, I would’ve done more than nod at his portrait. I would have stopped in front of it and given him a standing O.
Blow your mind: