An obituary for Arthur Schatz
An obituary for Irwin Lainoff
REMEMBRANCES — of Harry Baron
An obituary for Marion Greenstone
An obituary for Arthur Schatz
by Albert C. Lasher
On October 11, 2005, Artie Schatz died. I went to a memorial service
a week later at his apartment at Kips Bay Plaza. I learned from the
speakers he had been one of Time’s most valued and respected
photographers. Turns out, he was legend at Time and Life magazines for
his willingness to take on any assignment, no matter how dangerous or
onerous. At the same time, he was famed for his independence, another
way of saying he was cantankerous, outspoken and generally disrespectful
of authority. But when he got an assignment, he always came through with
great results. He worked for Time for more than 30 years and was
responsible for a number of outstanding Life covers. One of them, dated
July 26, 1968, is still available for sale today as a work of the
photographer’s art. The photo shows two women in great high spirits,
both flight attendants, celebrating the inaugural Moscow to New York air
Those of us involved with Vanguard in its last years will remember
Artie as a Vanguard photographer. I don’t recall whether we had more
than one photographer, but it wouldn’t have mattered because Artie was a
presence that couldn’t be denied. Those of you who remember him will
recall he was short, feisty and fearless. I joined the Wall Street
Journal a few years after graduation and Artie was a free lance
photographer. There were only two women on the newsroom floor at the WSJ
in l952. One was on the copy desk and she was married. The other, a
beautiful girl with deep set black eyes and long dark hair, was not. She
presided over the copy machine and she and I got to be friends. Turns
out she aspired to be a model and couldn’t afford the professional
photos required for a proper job search. As part of my plan to
ingratiate myself, I prevailed on Artie take the necessary photos and
arranged for her to meet him at his studio for the shoot.
He called me a few days later and said it went well and he’d mail to
me a set of contact sheets. All the photos were nudes. That demonstrated
an aspect of Artie’s character with which until that moment I had not
appreciated. He was deceptive in appearance, but dogged in pursuit.
We stayed in touch sporadically over the years, mainly at the times
we had Vanguard reunions. I still have the photos he took at one of our
early ones. He didn’t make the later ones, partly because of the demands
of assignments in distant places, like Vietnam. The last years of his
life he waged an angry battle with cancer.
I wish I was able learn more about his career than the sketchy
outline above, but Time refused to release any information to me and
I’ve been unable to track down his wife, Ine. I remember him warmly and
smile when I think of him.
An obituary for Irwin Lainoff
by Albert C. Lasher
There’s a photo by Artie Schatz that was taken sometime in May 1950
when Vanguard was suspended. It was published in the Spring 2001 issue
of the Brooklyn College Magazine as part of a major spread about
Vanguard. It shows Harry Baron, standing on a chair, speaking to an
assemblage of Vanguard staffers. Irv Lainoff is at the center of the
photo, between Warren Lee and Herb Dorfman, looking grim and
Irv was finishing up his freshman year at the time. Like all of us,
he was appalled by the attacks on Vanguard and its dissolution the
following October at the hands of the Brooklyn College administration.
And, like so many of us at Vanguard, he committed himself to a career in
Irv and Carole got married during Carole’s senior year at Brooklyn,
and had their first child, Steven, soon after. (A second son, Michael,
was born a few years later.) Following Army service, Irv was admitted to
the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Class of ‘56.
Halfway through the year, he ran out of money. Literally, no money. He
would have to drop out and get a job.
I had graduated from the J-school four years earlier. I took a call
one day from Dr. Richard T. Baker, Dean of Admissions. It was about a
scholarship fund my class started the year before. We had raised a
little over $100.00, not bad for openers when newspaper salaries for new
reporters ran about $60.00 a week and our class only had 63 graduates.
Baker asked me how well I knew Lainoff. We both understood he was about
to leave the school. Would it be all right if Irv was to become the
first recipient of the J-’52 scholarship?
He graduated and landed a job at Business Week. From that platform,
Irv took a flier and went to work for a highly publicized new mutual
fund, the Manhattan fund, put together by a wunderkind, Gerald Tsai. He
ended up as a partner in Neuberger & Berman, where everyone called him
Irwin. He was a talented investment manager. I know first hand, because
he arranged for me to become a director of his company. He made a lot of
money for Neuberger’s clients, his partners and of course, himself.
Along the way, he and Carole became generous benefactors to Brooklyn
College (President Christoph Kimmich attended his funeral service), the
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim (where he
served as president), the Vanguard Prize endowment and other good
He especially valued his connection to the J-school. His gifts to the
school, he explained, was one way he could demonstrate the importance of
the $100.00 scholarship that enabled him to hang on until graduation and
in a real way, propelled him on to a successful career in business
journalism and in Wall Street.
Irv died on November 29, 2007, after a long and difficult battle
REMEMBRANCES — of Harry Baron
If you want to add your own thoughts about Harry, send them to any
of the names listed below.
Four of us — Harry Baron, Jack Zanger, Hal Zimmerman and I
— decided in early 1950 to enlighten ourselves by regular
discussions of the world and what a better place it would be if people
paid more attention to us. We called our group "The Thoughtress" and met
in Zanger's apartment because, as part of the Williamsburg public
projects, the building gave us a chance to ride elevators. Vertical
mobility in action, a treat for Harry, who grew up near a Pitkin Avenue
candy store in the East New York section of Brooklyn.
We must have inaugurated a profound assemblage but the only memorable
lore I've retained from our sessions came through a pronouncement Hal
made in his most somber tones. (For those of you who don't know Hal, he
was a regular Vanguard visitor, never on the staff but often socializing
with us.) "When you apply for a job as a shoe salesman," Hal declared,
"the manager will ask you how to treat a customer. The first thing you
have to do is find out the customer's shoe size. Then go back into the
stock room and return with a single shoe. A LEFT shoe. If you carry out
a right shoe, you'll never get hired." Over the years since then, long
after Harry had embraced small town journalism in the Quad Cities, acted
in little theatre and edited magazines, Harry and I periodically
wondered whether our lives would have changed if we ever put Hal's
wisdom to a career test. Best foot forward, indeed.
When Harry sent me a copy of a novel he wrote on urban rioting, he
noted that someone else received credit as the author. "That's fine with
me," he explained. "I've got the copyright." Ars gratia something or
Harry and Maureen played host to me on my short-term visits to New
York in the late 1950s. On a walk through midtown Manhattan one evening,
Maureen, a child of the Northwest, stood on a street corner as we waited
for a green light. "Ah," she sighed, "It smells just like Spokane."
Harry pointed towards her feet and said, "You're standing over a sewer."
He twinkled. He always did.
Albert C. Lasher
I met Harry Baron in the fall of l949 as a new reporter for Vanguard,
the Brooklyn College student newspaper. He was Managing Editor. Awesome.
I delivered my first piece, 3 or 4 paragraphs about something or other.
I wasn't rigid in fear or anticipation, but concerned about how it would
He liked it. He cheered my cleverness in describing, "one worn dollar
bill," which he said helped give the work some cachet.
Neither Harry nor I forgot that exchange. I remembered it because it
validated my interest in journalism and in working on the college
weekly. He remembered it, I suppose, because it exceeded his
expectations and was the start of our lifelong friendship. I remembered
it also, I think, because it was my introduction to who Harry was,
unreservedly kind to children, small dogs and rookie reporters.
Just short of 2 years later, in the late summer of 1951, he was
working as City Editor of the Sumter Daily Item, a daily newspaper in
Sumter, South Carolina. Paid circulation, at the time, 7,000. My
application to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism had
been waitlisted and I had pretty much resigned myself to not hearing
from them again. I was looking for a job on a newspaper. Harry invited
me to come down to Sumter where I would work as a reporter on his paper.
The job paid $50.00 a week, which in those days would have readily
covered my expenses in Sumter. Fantastic! And classic Harry. Once again,
he reinforced my interest in journalism and gave my spirits a much
I was packed and ready to get on the Greyhound to Sumter, when a call
came in from the Dean of Admissions of the J-school. I had been
accepted. Zounds! Harry shared my enthusiasm and I took the other fork
in the road. But I have to say Harry's offer of a job on his paper was a
contribution to my morale that is hard to measure and harder still to
translate into accomplishment. I know, however, that it surely buoyed my
self—confidence and therefore better enabled me to face the challenges
of the Columbia program. It was of a piece with his reaction to that
"one worn dollar."
I have been ever grateful.
I am afraid I can't give you much on Harry. I didn't have many dealings
with him at Vanguard. He was close to Jack Zanger, as I recall. He was
enthusiastic about Vanguard and Vanguard people. He had a gentle way
about him, a good sense of humor.
A few decades ago I had a lunch date with Harry at a restaurant on
West 55th Street. As I approached, I saw him standing outside and I
asked why he hadn't sat down inside. He said, "I didn't want to take up
a table if I wasn't eating yet." That was so Harry.
What else was so Harry was that he was intelligent, funny, talented,
kind, thoughtful and he never made a big deal out of any of it. He was
just there—take him or leave him. I'm not saying he was an angel. He was
also on the money at sensing the motives of those who were, shall we
say, less than sincere.
We did a lot of lunches—including some in the past couple of years
whenever Geri Stevens was in town. Harry, Geri, Gloria Levitas & I would
tell jokes, satirize politicians and reminisce about good times in the
distant past. One day we placed bets on how B.C.'s President Kimmich
would rename certain parts of the campus after whoever donated the most
money ("The David Geffen Lily Pond"?).
Five years ago, after another lunch—Harry invited me to his and
Maureen's apartment, where I discovered the walls covered with amazing
creations. Harry had used what he called "found objects" to put together
into pictures that had endless meanings. He'd never said a word about it
before. I wondered: What other talents was he hiding? Certainly he
wouldn't comment. When I suggested that he should have a show he
shrugged. "Yeah, I guess so." But he never did
When Harry read—and liked—a piece of my writing, he would rave. And
if he didn't like it he would say so and why. There was never a hint of
superiority or cruelty or envy, which I've found in a few too many
critiques. I still kvell—a word that would make him smile—when I read,
for the ten thousandth time, an e-mail he once sent about a story I
wrote: "Lorenzo! ‘The Florentine Connection' is a 24-carat gem. Maureen
and I loved it. —Harry Baron." (Self-promotion in a memorial? What the
hell. Harry wouldn't mind).
If I had to define Harry it would be with a quote attributed to
Ernest Hemingway about a literary critic he admired: "He has a built-in
I'd like to sum up Harry Baron in six words:
"He was a very nice man."
Sure, he was also a talented writer, editor and artist, and a loving
husband, father and grandfather. But there are many others with at least
some of those attributes.
But Harry topped us all in being such a nice guy.
I first met Harry 58 years ago at Vanguard. I was as unseasoned as a
freshman could be, and Harry was a worldly returning vet, with Navy
service in World War II under his belt. But he was as nice and helpful
as he could be to all the novices like me.
Albert Lasher recalls that it was Harry's encouraging words about the
first story he wrote for Vanguard that led Al to embark on his own
distinguished career in journalism.
But that was Harry's way. He could be a tough editor, but he was
constructive and never nasty, even to the rankest beginner. And he had
that wonderful sense of humor that never left him, even in his darkest
So we became friends, and remained friends, a wonderful experience
shared by so many former Vanguardites over more than half a century. It
was fun to be in Harry's company.
Then, he began showing up with a tall, soft-spoken, but very smart,
girl from the state of Washington. At first, friends thought they were
an odd couple. Harry had many attributes, but height wasn't one of them.
Maureen towered over him, though it never seemed to bother Harry. And
Maureen told me that early on she had confided to a girl friend that she
had met a guy she really liked, except that he was rather shorter than
she was. But as the relationship blossomed, she added, it began not to
And so, the odd couple became the ideal couple, each proud of the
other's professional and personal achievements.
Harry had an unusual and varied career in journalism — in newspapers
from South Carolina and Iowa to New York's garment district — and in
magazines from True Detective and hot-rods to Golf Magazine and Esquire.
He even helped me out when I was in a jam at the New York Herald Tribune
by working freelance on the financial copy desk.
Although he spent most of his time as an editor, he was also a fine
writer, with that always-present sense of humor. Let me give you just
one example. When the former Vanguard members decided to put out a
memory journal in 1998 in connection with a reunion dinner 48 years
after the paper was thrown off campus, Harry was a natural choice to
edit it. And he did a terrific job.
But on the opening page, he insisted on putting a disclaimer, with
tongue in cheek. It read:
"The producers and perpetuators of this issue… are not responsible
for typographical errors, dangling participles, redundancies,
tautologies, aberrations in syntax, exaggerations, imperfect memories or
marital disputes arising from any article appearing herein."
That was typical Baron.
But the fine points of language were not Harry's only talent. Later
in life, he became an artist, again not in the typical mode. His work
was unusual and distinctive. He may have been the only palindromic
artist in America — at least that was how he described himself. And if
on a visit to their apartment, you received a personal showing and
explanation of his pieces, it was a special treat. And in my own family,
he was an inspiration to another writer-turned-idiosyncratic-artist, my
wife Thelma. And for that, we'll both always be grateful.
So that's my personal view of Harry Baron — mentor, friend,
journalist, inspiration, and above all, a very nice guy.
Pearl Shaine Panes
Remembering Harry Baron...
Who wasn't wild about Harry?
I remember him as a kind, gentle, capable, clever, reliable presence
on Vanguard. I always enjoyed his company. We were dear friends among
other dear friends...as it was on Vanguard.
Many years lapsed between those Vanguard days and the reunion parties
that allowed me to find Harry again. Most of our recent contact,
however, has been via the cyber frenzy that brought many Vanguardians
together again. Our Emails were frequent and funny. Sometimes Harry
and I exchanged messages in transliterated Yiddish, since Harry and I
were both well versed in "mama loshen."
I draw upon the words of the great Bard (King Henry V, i) to say
goodbye: "The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry."
In my treasured memories of Vanguard, Harry is there as a fine
writer, a fine editor and a dedicated comrade in arms when we were
fighting the forces of wickedness. But what I remember most about
Harry was that he was fun to be with.
He was often good for a belly laugh,but mostly his was a dry,
tricky,understated humor, a double-take kind of wit regularly hidden
behind a subtly mocked mask of seriousness. It was different and
refreshing. I have a photo of him in the cafeteria looking profoundly
earnest in conversation over lunch while delicately fingering a fork
grotesquely twisted out of shape.
After I had been away from New York for about four years, on a visit
back I accidentally ran into him on Broadway.
"Harry!" I cried, to which he muttered poker faced, without missing a
beat, "Dammit, I'll miss my bus," before letting loose one of his big
grins, grabbing my arm warmly and leading me off somewhere to catch up.
Like I say, Harry was a fun guy.
From the first time I met Harry — sometime in the late "40's — I
honestly enjoyed being with him. He was a very likable guy, with a
wonderful sense of humor and the ability to create funny ideas. One
instance (among many): the two of us were invited to speak to a girl's
club (they were called ‘Houses', I think) to describe what it was like
to put out a campus newspaper. As we were going in, I said to Harry "We
need a clever opening". I didn't have one. He looked around and saw a
calendar on the wall. He took it down, walked into this room full of
cute girls and said; "Ladies, I have dates for all of you", and showed
them the calendar. It got a big laugh. I asked him if he'd been planning
it — he said no, it just occurred to him. And he had many more
inspirations like that.
When I think back, I don't ever recall having an argument with Harry.
Some differences, but never any hard feelings or sore points. He was
easy to talk to, and he made sense.
When I was working for the newspaper of the garment workers Union, he
indicated in a letter to me that he'd like to come to New York to work
(he was in Iowa). We had an opening for a writer, but I warned him that
the news material was dry and self-serving. He came anyway, and started
turning out material that was easy to read, polished and professional.
He had me spruce up my style as well. It was during this time that he
met his wife-to-be Maureen.
And then, visiting his apartment in recent years, I was almost
shocked to see that he was a good artist as well, not painting but
putting objects together to make a unique display. A surprise for me so
late in our friendship.
But he was full of surprises, and ones I remember with a smile.
Give ‘em hell, Harry.
Helen & Joel Isaacson
You could always count on Harry. He was the great no-nonsense—which
did not mean no-fun—journalist, the editor who would be there for the
new staff when you needed some help. And he was the only one who really
looked the part, with his foreign correspondent's belted trench
Therefore, it was not at all surprising when on a visit from Ann
Arbor to New York in 1965, we met Harry and his raincoat at a mass anti-
Vietnam war march looking just as we remembered him. Of course, he
would be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
We had just dashed into a toy store and bought a little red wagon so
that we could march with our two young kids, and because we heard rumors
of anti-anti-war thugs and police on horseback, possibly harassing
the marchers it was especially good to have Harry there marching with
Most of us will recall Harry Baron as a writer and editor. And,
indeed, no single individual better personified Vanguard than Harry. He
was like a Franz von Papen, spanning the eras from World War II to
Korea. I can still see him in his sailor boy navy uniform visiting the
Vanguard offices when they were in the basement next to the bookstore
and then up two flights and some six or seven years later to the top of
the center stairway of Boylan Hall as a big cheese and courageous editor
in civvies never seeming inert, a kinesthetic figure, with a quick and a
eye gleaming smile.
But I also like to think of Harry now as the fine conceptual artist
he became in his later years, the walls of the Baron apartment, adorned
with the whimsical and playful sculptural reliefs and collages he
fashioned creatively out of technological leftovers. There were pieces
I wanted to buy but Harry refused to sell— or just didn't want to take
my money. But one day, a year or so ago, in the mail came a small
relief, entitled "Steppin' Snippets" in which two of the plastic
remnants of assemble-yourself toys had become shining gold silhouettes
mounted on a red square pasted against a black background. And the two
"snippets" indeed seemed to be dancing, figures in perpetual movement,
as was Harry himself.
It hangs on the wall of my study now and —like all my memories of
Harry, from Vanguard days to Manhattan lunches of recent years to a
single Catskill night when Harry happened to pick me up, a between-jobs-
hungry waiter hitch hiking on mountain roads and put me up and fed me at
the Resort Hotel where he was working as chauffer — I am grateful.
I recall meeting Harry Baron as a young man working on the Brooklyn
College Vanguard, the school's weekly newspaper. I met Sy Lieberman at
the same time but Sy soon left Brooklyn to pursue specialized graduate
studies in Michigan. I was impressed by their knowledge of news writing
and news practices and the grown up way they were treated by others even
though they were lowly sophomores like myself.
I had spent the previous semester as a cub reporter on the City
College newspaper, "The Campus," but the training had not been very
structured and I felt very ignorant. Harry and Sey were writing regular
stories and they were very much at ease with their assignments. Harry
and Sey gave me much time and assistance in writing up my assignments
and commenting on the recommendations of the senior editors in their
weekly lectures to us cubs. Since I was also a sophomore and had my
experiences as a freshman at City College. I had lots of anecdotes to
match their experience at Brooklyn.
Unfortunately the passage of years has washed my recollections clear
of the details of the stories that we traded. Mildred Strum was Editor
in Chief, Shirley Sirota was the Managing Editor and Burt Hochman was
the Co-Sports Editor.
But for the most part, faces come back but not the names. Sey moved
to graduate school in Michigan but Harry stayed on at Brooklyn College
for a while longer before leaving. During that time we became fast
friends, trading stories and opinions and helping each other out. Harry
was like a brother or a cousin to me. At the same time, he was very
helpful to the cub reporters who followed me as I prepared to enter the
Harry loved Brooklyn College. Before I left for the army in March of
1945, Harry left Brooklyn College for the US Navy. It was always a
pleasure to be in his company, to hear his chuckle and see his peppy
smile. I never could get enough of him, largely due to the distance
between each others' homes and our overcrowded work schedules but we
were always there for each other when called upon.
I will miss him dearly!
Jewell Kurtz Golden
Harry really cared about making sure things were right from the
So he simply had to visit Mike Levitas, who was carrying bags at
Tamiment. He wanted to talk to him about Vanguard, now that he was one
of the editors. My parents drove us near the Poconos. Harry had a friend
who took us in his small airplane to a little airport near the resort.
We got a ride to the hotel. There was Mike loaded down with bags. He was
able to get some time off. We went with him on a rowboat where the two
of them talked about their plans for Vanguard and the coming semester.
Harry was so animated, so articulate, and so pleased that he had gotten
to know Mike in so relaxed a way.
The last time I saw Harry was at Mike Kandel's honor award. I
reminded him of our jaunt and he chuckled, "That was a great beginning
for the year. I sure was determined to meet with him. I was glad that I
And he did make things right from the start.
I first met Harry Baron in 1943 —more than 60 years ago — when we
were both incoming Brooklyn College freshmen. But the real connection
between us was not Brooklyn College, it was Vanguard, the college
newspaper. Harry and I both spent more time at the Vanguard office than
we did in the Brooklyn College classrooms.
Harry and I started out as cub reporters and we both became co-
feature editors. That is as far as I moved up, but Harry made it to
Managing Editor. Harry and I covered dozens of stories together —
ranging from a feature about a pretty Brooklyn College undergraduate who
was named that month's Miss Subways to coverage of the infamous Brooklyn
College basketball scandal.
Although Harry and I entered Brooklyn College together, I graduated
about a year before he did, because my service in the Air Force did not
last as long as his service in the Navy during World War 2.
I spent the next 9 years doing graduate work at the University of
Michigan, but that did not preclude us from getting together. Oddly
enough, the place where we got together was in the state of Iowa. At
that time, Harry was working for a local newspaper in Davenport, Iowa; I
periodically visited a client of mine in Newton, Iowa; and a third
Vanguard alumnus, Gene Levitt, was teaching in the Psychology Department
at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The three of us met from time
to time in one Iowa locale or another.
When I finished up at the University of Michigan, I moved back to New
York and took an apartment on the Upper West Side -a few blocks from
the West 87th Street apartment where Harry and Maureen lived together
for almost 40 years.
Harry's weight never varied more than a pound or so from his thin 135
pounds, except for the last few years when he put on a few pounds after
he quit cigarette smoking a few years ago. When we were younger Harry
sometimes accompanied us on our visits to my parents in Brooklyn, where
my mother tried —unsuccessfully—to fatten him up.
In recent years, my wife Marilyn and I took walks along Columbus
Avenue, and when we did so we often visited the Barons at their
apartment. Marilyn called Maureen on her cell phone, told her that we
were in the neighborhood, and Maureen invariably invited us up. Marilyn
and I expect to continue doing so, but Harry won't be there any
Harry was one of the sweetest people I ever knew, and we'll sorely
My working relationship on Vanguard with Harry was not vast, but
before I get to that, I have to begin with a tedious but necessary
I was born in London and came to the U.S. in the summer of 1948. I
had dreams of going to Columbia, the only American university I had
heard of, but I soon learned I would have had to apply for admission
much earlier than that summer. Through a family connection I was
accepted at Yeshiva College in five minutes flat. After a year at
Yeshiva, I met a charming girl while working at a summer camp and
determined to follow her to the ends of the earth if necessary.
Fortunately, she was to be found at Brooklyn College.
A Yeshiva roommate of mine said he had a dear friend at Brooklyn,
Norman Gelb, an editor on Vanguard, who he said, if I was interested in
working on a college paper, could be of help. My heart leapt up. My
dream in those days was to be a music critic. Within a short time,
Norman and I got together. He was warm and welcoming.
He wanted to know about my high school and former college journalism
experiences. There were some, but they didn't come across as too
impressive. When he heard of my own ambitions, he said Vanguard indeed
was looking for a music correspondent.
From the passing conversations among Vanguard staff members that I
managed to catch during that first visit to the office on the second
floor of Boylan, I gathered that they all seemed mature and tough. I
became frightened. The only thing I had going for me then was my full-
blooded British accent, mostly the BBC that I tried to affect, but with
exotic touches of Limehouse and Russian-Yiddish. I discovered speaking
British in those days, astonishingly, could make up for lacks in
experience and qualifications.
"We have to talk to Harry Baron—he's the managing editor," said
Norman, and led me into an inner office. That's how I met Harry. He
leaned back and surveyed me with what they call a shrewd eye.
Lightly built, very thin, brown hair in an impossibly tight array of
curls, he listened as Norman described me and how Vanguard could use me.
At last he stirred.
"I know the English," he said. "I met them while in the service. I
know what they're capable of. " A gesture in my direction. "This one,"
he growled, "am I going to have to waste all my time deleting the u's in
words like flavor and favor and harbor and arbor? That's the sort of
thing they do."
Norman laughed and turned to me. "Would you really do that?" I
assured them that I knew the difference between American and British
Right, we could use a music reviewer," said Harry. As a test, he
immediately assigned me to cover, that very weekend, performances of
Rodgers and Hart's "A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur" by
the Brooklyn College Light Opera. I tried to protest. "This isn't the
kind of music I deal with. I prefer Beethoven and Brahms."
Harry gave me a benign smile. "In a couple of weeks, both the
Brooklyn College Student Orchestra and the College Choral Society will
be performing. Sweetheart, I need to know whether you can write!"
Well, I carried out the assignments. I had to do two reviews:
different casts were involved each night.
Monday morning, I handed my copy to Harry. I was expecting to be
roasted. To my surprise, not only was I treated with politeness and
courtesy, but I received what I still consider to be awfully valuable
lessons in copyediting and revision. Harry was insightful, perceptive,
and knew his stuff. And he understood how to transmit information. I
could say he proved important to me both as a writer and a teacher.
I was accepted on the Vanguard staff. Harry and I didn't have much
to do with each other after that. I had my beat and he had his. But he
was always accessible and unbelievably generous to one learning his
craft. I shall always be grateful.
I had worked my way up the ladder to what I had long wistfully viewed
as the exalted, benighted circle of Vanguard leaders and shakers when
two bright young cubs named Harry Baron and Sey Lieberman first came on
the staff. I remember them both well, extremely bright, extremely
capable, extremely eager, and—though they were but kids in the eyes of
world-weary 19 year old me—they fitted immediately in with the joshing,
prankish, closely knit Vanguard crowd of that era (I guess by now I do
belong to an era!) I see Harry now—wiry, not very tall, thick shock of
unruly dark hair falling over his forehead while he worked at the
typewriter, usually with a cigarette drooping from his lips. His voice
is still clear in my ears—drawling, acerbic, wisecracking out of the
side of his mouth. I was graduated in 1945, so I never had the pleasure
of seeing Harry (and Sey) climb up the Vanguard ranks—though I am aware
from all that the rest of you have written about Harry that he became
for all who knew him and worked with him a galvanic, much loved and
respected figure. I am saddened to hear of his death at the age of 80
and I appreciate what a loss all Vanguard has suffered.
Harry Baron. A distinctive name—and a person of distinction. He
always was fun to be around. He was a good listener who cared what you
were saying. And, of course, he was a superb storyteller. That is a
potent combination that makes for the best in journalism.
Harry often struck me as a raffish character out of Damon Runyon. He
was a tummler. I cannot think of a specific anecdote about Harry, except
that always was smiling or laughing. I truly believe he was one of those
who drove the idea of keeping Vanguard alive through reunions. We all
owe him a lot.
Judi Freilich Salzer
To me, Harry was one of the "older guys" on Vanguard. Wordly, mature.
He looked like a Runyonesque tough guy. But the one with a heart of
gold. A really sweet man — so vividly and so fondly remembered.
Estelle Matsil Freedman
Remembering the old news room ...Harry was all over the place..in the
newsroom with the biggies, outside the inner circle with the lesser
folk, always kidding, smiling, flirting a little along with his
sidekick, Seymour. It was happy time for me, especially when my grades
were in mortal danger. Often there was some other girl with me, was it
Nancy.. ....Rita?...others I should remember but don't, also drinking in
the fun'....cause old BC could be pretty austere back then. Thank you
In his tribute to Norma Lieberman, Harry Baron wrote of her sharp
humor and her gentility. Harry was cut from the same cloth. When I
joined Vanguard I soon came to regard Harry as one of the wiser heads
from whom I could learn about life and journalism. And that was right.
The photo of Harry lecturing our crowd in the time of crisis is one that
will stay indelibly in my memory. I wish I could remember what he was
saying but really the photo tells it all.
Geri Cohen Stevens
Harry Baron was one of the only two managing editors under whose
direction I remember working during the two-plus years I spent on
Vanguard before assuming the job myself. I know there were more but
only two left their mark: The first was Sid Frigand and I remember him
because I was fresh out of high school and he was a war vet and I found
The second was Harry, and I remember him as my managing editor for
many reasons, not the least of which were his limitless patience and
kindness. One vivid instance that comes to mind as I reflect back
concerns a story that I turned in which completely missed the mark. I
had spent hours constructing what I thought was a brilliantly clever
lead paragraph, around a really dumb pun on the name of the major player
in the story. Harry went over what I submitted line by line, in my
presence. He asked some questions, jotted down my answers and somehow
managed to re-direct my entire approach. Not once did he use the word
"rewrite" nor did he criticize what I had done. He got me to believe
that the changes were entirely my own idea.
The other thing about Harry's tenure as managing editor that I
remember well, aside from his ubiquitous trench coat, was how organized
and really professional he was. Everything was written down in a black
and white notebook. He had a painstaking system for programming each
issue's contents, with columns for assignment, reporter, deadline, copy
editor and so forth. I tried to duplicate both notebook and system when
my turn came but somehow didn't quite get it.
Harry was sharp-witted, fun and had a great sense of humor, but I
don't remember his ever using his wit or humor at someone else's
expense. I'm not sure I can say that for all of his colleagues —
including myself — back then when we all thought we were so terribly
In recent years, Harry was one of a small group that met for lunch
whenever I visited New York from California where I now live. I watched
him gradually grow slighter and more sallow as his illness took its
terrible toll but he did not behave any differently and never
complained. I will miss you, Harry, on my next visits, when we meet for
lunch and see the enormous emptiness your absence has created.
Think of Harry and you have to smile. That dear elfin man exuded a
feel-good aura that radiated his warmth, wisdom and compassion. He was
always ready to participate in fun endeavors. I can recall an incident -
- I think it was 1947 — when Irv Goldaber and I concocted a scheme to
hold a fake seance. Ethel Spevack volunteered her furnished basement and
played spooky music on her fiddle during the event. The whole scheme
centered on contacting Bert Hochman's ancestors—not particularly anyone
by name. My sister Millie volunteered to be the medium with a shmatta
tied around her head and a crystal ball in her hands. With the lights
very low, she invoked the spirits. Everybody was asked to hold hands
while ominous thumping on the ceiling and stairs (my brother, Hy with a
broomstick) signaled the arrival of the specter. Suddenly the table
started to shake violently, evoking gasps and shrieks among the
participants. Then all the lights went out and Ed Lapidus, dressed in a
rented gorilla outfit, joined the circle. When the lights went on again,
everyone screamed with laughter at the sight of Bert's primogenitor.
So what's all this got to do with dear Harry? Who else would sit for
an hour under that suffocating table covered with a floor length
oilcloth, artfully rattle the table and emerge grinning from ear to ear?
That was definite proof that Harry destined to be a shaker and
Over the years that followed, we'd see each other whenever Josh
Greenfeld came in from the West Coast: Jerry Ordover, Bert Hochman and
others who could make it. Harry was always exuberant, jolly and
informative. He made us all feel good. Even in recent years, when he was
besieged by illness, his good-fellowship and joy of life had a
contagious effect on us.
Harry was a decent, wise and life-affirming man. I will miss him.
Gloria Barach Levitas
Ever since Sasha BARON Cohen burst on the scene, I had wanted to
tease Harry about him: Another Jewish Baron I was going to say —
undoubtedly a relative. But if Borat had been a relative, he would have
been Harry's evil twin because everything he did and said seemed
designed to make people uncomfortable; to reveal them to themselves in
the most mean-spirited way. This, of course, was the precise opposite of
Harry whom I can only think of as one of the sweetest men I have ever
Harry was also the ultimate realist and his courage in confronting
the disease that ultimately killed him was not only memorable, but like
so many things Harry did made things easier for his friends.
In fact what I remember most about Harry was his kindness and
gentleness: traits that were commented upon in virtually every eulogy
given at the memorial. But it was sweetness tied to a sharp
intelligence, and more creativity than ever realized. I also think of
Harry as Humphrey Bogart — partly because I remember him in a trench
coat, and partly because he actually did have another twin: an editor,
much like him, for whom we both worked at different times after
graduation. The editor was a man named Bernie Williams, employed by a
thoroughly scurrilous publisher whose only redeeming feature was his
willingness to hire Brooklyn College graduates by UAT Universal
Publishing Company. I worked on trash— writing sexy scenes in otherwise
forgettable books (my sexy scenes were also probably forgettable). Harry
worked there later, in another division devoted to Golf magazines and I
don't remember what else. Both of us worked for Bernie Williams — a man
who spoke with an amazing Brooklyn accent Like Harry, Bernie was short,
given to wearing trench coats and, while he didn't paint, was a
wonderful guitarist. Bernie later married a tall attractive editor (very
much like Maureen) who admitted that Bernie reminded her of Humphrey
Bogart Bernie was always gentle, and like Harry, he always managed to
show you how to edit without making you feel like a fool. In the end,
he taught both of us a great deal about editing.
More recently, as Geri mentions, we used to meet for lunch in the
neighborhood. Harry was then battling the cancer that ultimately killed
him, but you would never have known he was sick from his conversation.
Mostly we gossiped and in the time-honored tradition of Vanguard, we
would get rowdy, outrageous and often out of control. Harry joined in,
but he always had the good sense to stop us before we went round the
bend...and he did it without doing more than looking at us and shaking
his head in pretended despair.
When I think of "grace under pressure" I think of Harry.
He was more than a baron — he was a prince...
Subject: An obituary for Marion Greenstone
From: Larry Yaeger
Marion (Isaacson) Greenstone, who was a Vanguard staff member from early 1943
until her graduation in 1946, died in November 2005 at the age of 80. One of
her favorite reporting assignments was to cover Student Council meetings, which
became virtually her exclusive beat and earned her frequent bytined front page
stories Marion win be remembered by Vanguardians of the early 40s as a slender
and extremely attractive girt who was prevailingly serious and somewhat reserved
in demeanor. Though not a prig or a stuffed shirt, she was generally not one to
take part in the often raucous gags and pranks that some of us indulged in
(never, of course, interfering with the weekly job of getting an issue out on
time?) Marion took a tot of good-natured kidding from Vanguard friends because
she was one of the relatively few Brooklyn College students who commuted daily
between school and her home far up in the Bronx-a ride each way of over an hour
on the old IRT. Though she Iived close to what was then the Bronx's Hunter
College campus, she explained that, having gone to an all-female high school
(Wafton), she had no intention of attending an all-female college too After
graduation, Marion taught English in a Hebrew parochial school. She met and
married Myron Greenstone, himself a City College alumnus who got his degree
after serving as an infantryman in the Italian campaign in World War Two- After
marriage, Manon resolved to follow up on her long-standing interest in art and
was accepted at Cooper Union. Following her graduation, she joined the art
faculty at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she taught design and composition
for many years. She won a Futbright Scholarship for study in Italy, maintained a
studio at home in the Greenstones' Park Slope brownstone, where she painted, did
pen-and-ink and charcoal drawings, and designed stained glass. She exhibited at
a Manhattan gallery, won a commission to do a mural for a new public library
branch in Queens, and is represented in the permanent collection of drawings in
the Brooklyn Museum- Marion died after suffering briefly from both ovarian and
lung cancer (though she had never smoked in her life.). She and Myron eariy in
their marriage decided not to have children. As you gather, I remained close to
Marion and Myron until their deaths.