LIFE Magazine Article (April 4, 1949)

Bill Jr.          On pages 42-43, in a double-spread, LIFE published pictures of those whom it believed were ‘fellow travellers’ of the communists either in the Soviet Union or the Communist Party USA in this country.  It didn’t accuse them, necessarily, but implied that they could be such, or at least were “dupes’.

Those whose pictures appeared were:

  • sculptor Jo Davidson;
  • playwright Arthur Miller;
  • actor Charlie Chaplin;
  • German novelist Thomas Mann;
  • novelist Norman Mailer;
  • clergyman and congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.;
  • physicist Albert Einstein;
  • literary historian Ralph  Barton Perry;
  • composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein;
  • playwright Clifford Odets;
  • poet Langston Hughes;
  • classical scholar Vida Dutton Scudder;
  • literary critic and poet Louis Unermeyer;
  • liturgical scholar and bishop Edward Lambe Parsons;
  • literary critic and scholar F. O. Mattheissen;
  • political affairs historian Frederick L. Schumann;
  • film writer and satirist Donald Ogden Stewart;
  • playwright Lillian Hellman;
  • scientist Kirtley Mather;
  • clergyman and editor Guy Emery Shipler;
  • philosopher and author Corliss Lamont;
  • composer Aaron Copeland;
  • poet Wm. Rose Benet;
  • composer and conductor Olin Downes;
  • actor, athlete and singer Paul Robeson; and, of course,
  • editor, clergyman and parish priest, Wm. B. Spofford

            The pictures caused a stir, of course.  By and large, it rolled off Dad’s back; he thought that he was in some of the most splendid company.  In the small town of Tunkhannock, however, it meant some confusion and, for Mother and my sister Suzy, who was still in high school, a certain amount of ‘shunning’.  They weathered it but lost some friendly acquaintances who feared that Wyoming County might be a prime target for ‘The Russians Are Coming; The Russians Are Coming,’ a brilliant comedy that satirized the red hysteria a bit later.

            Shortly thereafter, Polly, the five boys and I were moving to Payette, Idaho, to open the Western Extension Center of the National Town-Country Institute of the Episcopal Church.  This involved being vicar of five counties in which there were nine altars–i.e. two organized congregations and the rest house churches.

            One of my parishioners was Senator Herman Welker who, somewhat later, was one of the very few senators who voted not to censor Joe McCarthy for his abuse of his office.  Welker’s law partner was James McLure, later to be congressman from our district and Idaho senator in his own right.

            We had some dust-ups as to whether I was ‘guilty by nativity’ or ‘by association’.  My bishop then, Frank Rhea, told them to knock it off and let us all get on with the Church’s mission and ministry.  Very quickly we were debating the more important topics of whether the Payette Pirates were going to beat the Weiser Prospectors or not — and whether Payette’s 17-year-old third baseman, Harmon Killebrew, would get a big league contract.  It was Senator Welker who brought the Washington Senator scout to a game during which Killebrew got four powerful hits and he was on his way to the Senators and eventually to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

            Many of those whom LIFE depicted  like so many mug-shots on a post office wall were later recognized as champions in their fields.  Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Miller all received National Kennedy Center Awards; Charlie Chaplin was given and Honorary Oscar and a Lifetime Award,  and at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention,  Bp. John E. Hines, Vida Dutton Scudder and Wm. B. Spofford were all honored with awards.