Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?

Inappropriate, immoral, improper sex has occurred in the lives of many modern day Presidents. Presidents of old not so much. They apparently were very virtuous or the press failed to investigate and reveal their sexual escapades. The latter true. Sexual play by Presidents of old were considered off base.

A sex scandal is claimed to have occurred the first time Grover Cleveland ran for President. One involving rape and violence. The year 1884.

Cleveland was named Stephen Grover Cleveland by his Presbyterian minister father. His upbringing religious.

Cleveland’s political career prior to running for President was distinguished. Sheriff of Erie County, Mayor of Buffalo, and Governor of New York.

He was known for his honesty, self reliance, integrity, courage, independence and common sense. A political reformer. He was referred to as “Grover the Good.”

Cleveland was running against James Blaine of Maine. A distinguished political leader. He had served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He was Speaker of the House. His career also included two terms as Secretary of State under three different Presidents.

The election a close one. Cleveland narrowly won.

It was reported during the campaign that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child ten years earlier. Mr. Clean suddenly dirty.

Those supporting Blaine came up with a political ditty. One which caught hold immediately.

Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?

Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!

A Buffalo newspaper broke the story. Either the Evening Telegraph or the Buffalo Evening Standard. The exact one difficult to identify. Whatever, the newspaper revealing the story was considered in those days a rag.

Cleveland’s political aides went crazy. How to cover/contain the story? Cleveland told them simply, “Whatever you say, tell the truth.”

The “Cleveland truth”  was Cleveland had had an affair with a Maria Halpin ten years earlier. Cleveland was a lawyer at the time. His law partner was Oscar Folsom. Many were having  an affair with Maria at the same time. Cleveland’s law partner Folsom as well as several of Cleveland’s political crony friends.

All those allegedly having sexual escapades at the time were married. Cleveland the only bachelor.

Maria was a 36 year old widow. Employed by the dry goods store Flint & Kent. A hard worker, she soon rose to head the cloak department. She spoke French. Known as a pleasant, soft spoken woman. A church goer.

She also was a slut based on the story told. Cleveland said he claimed to be the father to protect his married friends. He claimed to have supported the child for a year and then stopped. He stopped because paternity was questionable. He did not believe he was the father.

Maria claimed her life prior to the “Cleveland truth” was pure and spotless. There was no doubt in her mind as to paternity. The child was fathered by Cleveland, not the others. The incident described by Maria would today be considered date rape.

There was a court proceeding. A paternity suit. Maria’s position was Cleveland had sexually and violently assaulted her. The incident took took place in her room at a boarding house. Cleveland had earlier run into her while she was on her way home from work. He suggested dinner. They enjoyed a pleasant dinner at the Ocean Dining Hall & Oyster House.

Maria threatened to notify the authorities. Cleveland allegedly said he would destroy her, even if it cost him $10,000. He did not care. He would risk hanging by the neck to stop her.

She ordered him out of her room. He left.

Six weeks later, Maria realized she was pregnant.

Permit a momentary digression.

The “Cleveland truth” was printed in several newspapers at the time. Books were written thereafter that paid little attention to Maria’s claim of innocence.

The first novel supporting Maria’s position was published by Charles Lachman in 2011. The book took three years to research and write. A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland.

Lachman suggests Cleveland was a nasty man. Truth to Cleveland was what ever protected his political career. Same as today.

Lachman writes Cleveland was the only one who had sex with Maria at the time. His law partner Oscar Folsom and others lied to protect Cleveland. In those days, there was no blood test to determine paternity. The defense in a paternity case was to show several men had intercourse with the woman during a particular time ,period.. It was therefore difficult to determine who was the father. By inference, the woman was labeled a slut who would have sex with anyone.

It is difficult to determine if the paternity case resulted in a court decision. What is known is that Cleveland gave Maria $500 and told her to go elsewhere and start over.

The baby was a boy. He was born at a hospital for unwed mothers. Interestingly, the birth certificate names Oscar Folsom as the father. Cleveland arranged for Folsom’s name on the birth certificate. Not Maria. The baby was soon forcibly taken from Maria. Kidnapped. The child was placed in the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. Maria was thrown into the Providence Lunatic Asylum.

Big stuff.

The son was soon adopted by a respected western New York couple. He eventually became a well known New York City doctor. A gynecologist. His name, Dr. James E. King, Jr.

Maria never saw her child again. She never knew where he was initially placed, who adopted him, etc.

Maria was examined by the medical director of the Lunatic Asylum. He released Maria soon after examining her. He concluded she was not insane and her incarceration was the result of an abuse of political power.

What is the true story?

Difficult to ascertain. It appears Lachman dug into the matter more deeply than previous writers. He is a distinguished and reputable writer. He was acclaimed for an earlier work involving the Lincolns.

Lachman’s book was a best seller. Sold over one million copies.

What do I think?

I am inclined to believe the truth lies with Lachman’s version. Cleveland was the sole male who had sex with Maria. His friends lied for him. Remember, Cleveland was an active candidate for President of the United States. Grover the Good would not be so considered if Maria’s version was believed. Mr. Clean had dirtied himself. He had to bury Maria or his Presidential aspirations were buried. One or the other.

I suspect more books will follow. Others will analyze Lachman’s work ad infinitum, as well as the authors who came before him.

Presidential candidates and Presidents themselves have difficulty keeping their pants on or zippers up at the very least. What Cleveland covered up would not be possible in today’s media crazy world. In the end, everything hangs out.

Three earlier happenings in Cleveland’s life affect my judgement. I would be remiss if I did not mention them. Two definitely go to the character of the man, the third perhaps.

Cleveland did not fight in the Civil War. He was practicing law at the time. He was called to serve. He did not want to get into the fighting.

The Conscription Act became law in 1863. It permitted an individual called to serve to pay someone to fight in his place. Cleveland paid a Polish immigrant.

Another involves certain of Cleveland’s actions while Sheriff.

Erie County was without a hang man. A vacancy existed. No one had applied for the job. Three murderers sentenced to death awaited hanging. Sheriff Cleveland told the people of Erie County not to worry. He would do the job.

He pulled the lever opening the trap doors dropping  the men to their deaths.

The final involves Cleveland’s marriage. Soon after Cleveland election, he married Oscar Folsom’s daughter. Cleveland was 48, Frances Folsom 21.


An early morning greeting this Easter holiday. Happy Easter!

A religious day. We forget. More than the Easter bunny and baskets.

This day one of additional significance. The Elite Eight. Winners today go on to the Final Four.

Syracuse plays Virginia at tonight. Big game! Virginia a #1 seed. Syracuse a #10. Virginia an 8.5 point favorite.

We shall see. I make no predictions. I am thrilled for Coach Boeheim and the team.

Go ‘Cuse!

Got out yesterday afternoon to pick up some Easter gifts for Robert and Ally. I have to be at Lisa’s at 9 this morning for an Easter egg hunt.

Spent the afternoon completing research for this week’s KONK Life column Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa? I will write the article this afternoon.

Last night a late one! Well after midnight. Two nights in a row I have been up that late.

Started the evening with an early dinner at Hot Tin Roof. I was not hungry. Desired something different. It was. Lobster mac and cheese.

Then to the Waterfront Playhouse for the final night of Producers. The finest theatrical production seen by me in all my years in Key West. Outstanding! Perfection! The show pure joy.

An after show party at Bunny Smith’s.

I have to move my butt to get to Lisa’s on time.

A final thought first. Will there continue to be joy in Mudville?

Enjoy the Easter holiday!



March Madness! What excitement! Great basketball!

Syracuse, the team that should not have been in the NCAA Tournament. Even I said it. A bad year. Syracuse did not deserve to make it.

We made it! Was I wrong! Syracuse has distinguished itself throughout the tournament.

Last night, Syracuse defeated Gonzaga 63-60. The final seconds wild. Syracuse made three outstanding defensive moves. Two succeeded.

Tomorrow, Syracuse the #10 seed plays Virginia the #1 seed for the right to go to the Final Four.

Syracuse today in the Elite Eight! Who would have thought? Who would have believed? Perhaps only the players.

There is joy in Mudville.

Lunched yesterday at Harpoon Harry’s. Ham, eggs and hash browns. As I consistently mention, Harpoon Harry’s has the best eggs. It’s the taste/flavor, perhaps preparation, that makes them so good!

An early dinner last night in order to be home to watch the Syracuse game at 9:40. Decided on the outside bar at La Te Da. Always an empty seat around 6. Turned out I was not hungry. Ordered the crab dip with crackers. Have enjoyed it before. An appetizer. Terrific! Try it. It was just enough.

During half time of the game, I treated myself to a bowl of chocolate and coconut gelato. And I wonder why I have gained weight!

Big research day ahead. I will continue researching this week’s KONK Life column Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa? The story of President Grover Cleveland and his purported illegitimate son. A tale of misused political power.

I write the column tomorrow.

At some point, I have to get Robert and Ally something for Easter. We start the day tomorrow at 9 with an egg hunt in their back yard. Even Jake has a couple of things hidden.

Tonight, busy. An early dinner at Hot Tin Roof. Then the Producers. The last performance. The show reported to be the biggest and best the Waterfront Theater has ever presented. Following the Producers, a closing night party at a friend’s home.

I will have been up late two nights in a row. Syracuse last night and the Producers tonight. Unusual for me.

Many of us are alive and well today and able to walk because of Dr. Jonas Salk. On this day in 1953, Dr. Salk announced a new vaccine for use against polio (infantile paralysis). I was a college student at the time. I had friends who were afflicted. Fortunately, none died.

In 1952, the year before the vaccine was available, there were 58,000 new cases in the United States. Three thousand died.

Polio is the disease that afflicted Franklin Delano Roosevelt at age 39. It left him in a wheel chair the rest of his life.

Enjoy your day!



Unions are not what they used to be. Even the mighty fall. In the last 30 years, the power of organized labor has diminished. Perhaps properly so. Labor had gotten too big for its britches.

As the power of labor has become less, management/corporate power has increased. Too much so. A contributing factor being that labor’s power is not sufficient to counteract management.

The pendulum must swing back. To a middle ground.

Having said all that, it surprises me that Labor Day continues to be a popular holiday. There still are parades all over the country. Generally followed by parties.

The parades and parties are not by accident. Back in the 1880s when a holiday for labor was being suggested, the first outline for the proposed holiday specified street parades followed by festivals.

The first public parade took place in New York City in 1887. President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894. The purpose was of to honor the American labor movement and the contributions made by workers.

It appears Key West is not having a parade today. I could not find one scheduled. Sad, if such is the case. We celebrate everything in Key West. Why omit labor? Especially since most of Key West is made up of labor.

I spent considerable time yesterday writing next week’s KONK Life column. Tennessee Williams…..A Love. My motivation was the response I received to the recent column I wrote concerning Hemingway. Hemingway…..His First Love.

Everyone has loves in their lives. Some more than one. Prime examples being Hemingway and Williams. I hope the Williams story is enjoyed as much as the Hemingway one was. Each written from a different perspective.

Now comes Grace. A new hurricane forming off the coast of Africa. Key West is paying no attention to it. Too far away. Plus, the projections tell us worry not.

Womenfest begins in a few days. Womenfest Key West 2015. Lesbians and their friends converge in droves on Key West for a week of fun and frolic. The town jumps!

I read somewhere recently that there are 26 million blogs in the United States. Impressive!

Almost forgot! Tonight, Larry Smith performs! At 8. The Little Room Jazz Club on Duval. Across from Vinos. Join me for what I am sure will be a fun evening.

Enjoy Labor Day!