Claire: Gail, what made you decide to set your historical romance in this particular time in our history?
Gail: I wanted my heroine to be feisty, to question the establishment–and in the 19th century it was a rigid one.
Claire: Well, Allie Baldwin certainly fits the role! But it’s not just the women’s vote Allie fights for. What else motivates her?
Gail: It was a time when women immigrants were leaving their homelands for a better life. Instead, they were working in deplorable conditions in factories and their children weren’t schooled. They had to work. Families lived in crowded tenements with so many others in the same situation.
Claire: Who helped inspire Allie’s cause?
Gail: Allie follows in the footsteps of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others fighting for the votes for women, the fight for freedom, and the fight for the right to choose.
Claire: But she runs into the same kind of resistance they did, doesn’t she?
Gail: Most certainly. Allie had to fight her father, her brother, and even turn away from marriage to work for the vote.
Claire: What was one of Allie’s pet peeves?
Gail: She hated the corset. It was symbolic of the stranglehold on women.
Claire: Well your timing couldn’t be better, Gail! 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. Bravo!
A little more about the book:
Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry…
Allie Baldwin is tired of writing about the latest fashions for the society column of her father’s newspaper, the New York Sentinel. Determined to write about important issues, Allie can’t help but defy danger at every turn. When she narrowly escapes a riot at a suffrage rally, Allie’s beleaguered parents enlist the services of a security agent—a dashing and debonair detective, with a knack for getting under Allie’s skin.
He’s not ready for marriage…
Peter Harrison is too busy running Harrison Detective Agency to bother with courtships and conjugality. He refuses to make the same mistakes his father made—marrying too young and forsaking family for work. But when a newspaper magnate hires him to protect his willful daughter—Peter is torn between his oath to bachelorhood and an alluring attraction to the ravishing redhead with a nose for trouble.
When a mysterious fire sparks her investigative instincts, can Allie stick to reporting the facts and restrain her flowering feelings for the handsome detective?
~~~Spunky Allie Baldwin wants to write about more significant issues in her father’s newspaper than the current fashion trends. Bottom line is, Allie is a suffragette who is far from shy and, defying her father, plunges headfirst into the fray of suffragette rallies. Worried for her safety, her parents hire a security guard to try to keep her out of trouble.
You can get your copy of The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin here, and find out more about Gail Ingis at her website.
Interviewer, Claire Gem is a multi-published, award-winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.
A Taming Season
Claire has a special of short stories up for preorder on Amazon: ENIGMATA: Eerie Bits, Book 1 – A Collection of Short Stories by Claire Gem. Leaves you wondering where, why and what. It certainly ignited my curiosity, and gave me goosebumps, the kind that chilled me deep in my imagination. Want a thrill? Order now, and they’ll be ready to read on 9/29.
New York is one of the few cities in the world that’s rich enough and diverse enough to be anything it wants to be, The Dutch first settled along the Hudson in 1624 and two years later they established the colony of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. In 1664, the English took control of the area and renamed it New York.
This same New York is my hometown, a place for immigrants, barons, and in short, middle America. I’ve combed the city as a kid, as a student, and as a designer.
Automat at 818-820 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1904 postcard, Wikipedia
Long ago, I loved the Automat (Horn and Hardart). A whole lunch for a nickel. Nickel in, lunch out, on a vertical turnstile, Hot soup and apple pie, yum. Whatever happened to those days? Naturally any place in New York is home to me, even the Catskills, where I spent many a summer and where my first historic romance couple, Rork and Leila, met in Indigo Sky.
My new and latest story The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, (Book 1, The Baldwin Family Series) takes place in none other than my hometown, In fact, the Baldwins’ live across the street from Central Park. What was it like to take a walk in the park in 1886? You’ll find out in my book.
An early stereoscope view of the Main Dining Room shows the frescoed ceiling and sumptuous chandelier.
Baggage entered the 46th Street side (right) and guests entered on Fifth Avenue. The arrangement avoided “cluttering.” — photo Library of Congress
Sadly, New York has been an ephemeral city. Many buildings were demolished or burned, one of which was the Windsor Hotel on 46th Street and 5th Avenue, conveniently located close to the Grand Central Depot, a short walk to the Windsor for those who traveled by train. The Hotel welcomed the wealthy, from Barons to Dukes, and according to the New York Times, the Windsor was “most luxurious and aristocratic hostelry in New York.”
Inside the hotel were the barber’s shop, grocery and general storerooms, vegetable kitchen, dining rooms, a separate one for children, and more. The hotel was considered a marvel in modern convenience. Every suite had a private bath and every room had a fireplace, according to The Times.
You’ll get an exclusive invitation to visit the Windsor Hotel in my book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, out on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.
La Ramblas, street in Barcelona
A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.
Like picking candy, which one?
Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children.
Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.
In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet.
Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.
According to history, about one thousand people embarked for their new home during the year 1630, the first of the eleven years of the “great Puritan migration.” During the time that Charles I attempted to govern England without parliament, nearly twenty thousand men, women, and children were transported to the shores of New England. They went with the idea of establishing churches in which they might worship in the way they preferred.
West Kirby, England the beach
When Richard Harrison Sr. was told he could not worship as he pleased, he pondered, planned and paid a tidy sum to remove himself and his family from a land of prejudice. He packed their minimum and walked away from where he, his wife, Sarah Yorke, and his five children were all born, the town of West Kirby, England.
West Kirby, England storm on the coast
They would take one of the ships of the Puritans, on 22 June 1635 to the new world. The Harrison children were Richard Jr. born 1620, Thomas, born 1626, John, Samuel, Mary. It was not long on the ship before the playful children distracted travelers from the difficulties of crowding, unsanitary conditions and unpalatable food.
Maplewood, New Jersey cemetery
The Harrisons came to New Haven, Connecticut, and then made their way to Branford, Connecticut, where they founded the town in 1644. The original house is gone, but the one built in the eighteenth century still stands on Main Street as a museum. There is a library in the house with the history of the family written by a Captain Thomas Harrison, who fought in the Civil War. At the end of his writing, he wrote that he hoped someone would continue recording the history of the Harrisons. That is what Gertrude Harrison Claus, born 1910, has done. At the age of one hundred and one, she was remarkable–still healthy, happy, and sharp. She went home to her maker in 2011. She was Mom to me and to her children. Everyone else called her Trudi, short for Gertrude. Trudi was my role model, a liberated, Christian woman. I miss her smile, her love, and her interest in our lives.
Typical house of the era in Newark, NJ 1725-1730
One of the brothers, Richard Harrison Jr. and possibly, his sister Mary, left CT for New Jersey. Richard founded Neworke, now Newark, New Jersey. Richard married Sarah Hubbard, had 8 children and became one of 11 founders of Newark, NJ in 1667 and a patentee in 1675. In 1668, he was
one of 6 Newark agents who negotiated its boundary with Elizabeth, NJ. He also was an original town committee member and town surveyor. Newark was founded after 6 years of communication with Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam. There is a plaque in the center of town with Richard Harrison’s name as the founder. I saw the plaque. Richard’s children with his wife Sarah Hubbard had six children, Joseph, born1649, Samuel, born 1652, Benjamin, born 1655, George, born 1658, Daniel, born 1661, and Mary, born 1664.
Skagway Presbyterian Church, Alaska. Founded by Norman B. Harrison c. 1898
There is more about the family. Tom’s grandfather, Norman B. Harrison, took his organ, his wife and his children to Skagway, Alaska, in 1898 and founded the Presbyterian Church there. Mom Trudi and our friends Jean and El visited a some years ago and verified they saw his name on a plaque. Later, he came back to the homeland to the state of Washington and founded the
University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, WA Founded by Norman B. Harrison
University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. The church is still there. Norman’s writings were about different books of the Bible. I treasure the “The End. Re-Thinking the Revelation”, signed by him to his daughter Gertrude Harrison Claus, on December 15, 1954.
Trudi’s brother, Everett Harrison, was one of the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He too wrote books about the Bible and like his father Norman, was a scholar. For anyone that knows Princeton Theological Seminary, Norman B. Harrison’s name is on the cornerstone.
Thomas Harrison Claus
Trudi Harrison Claus and her son Thomas Harrison Claus, both direct decedents of Richard Harrison Jr. and Mary Harrison, scoured cemeteries in New Jersey. Tom said they found ancestors in a cemetery in West Caldwell, NJ. We never looked in Connecticut. I would like to do that, amidst the beautiful fall foliage.
Another bit of information—Thomas Harrison Claus’s father, Wilbur Claus, a biochemist, discovered Cheerio’s for General Mills, and Tom, also a biochemist, discovered a drug for type 2 diabetes, but it never got to the market.
Tom has three brothers, diluting the Harrison name with Claus, and so it goes. We lose all the Harrisons’ in marriages and births. It becomes almost impossible to find all the linkages. But Mom Trudi said the early Harrisons’ married Smiths, Baldwins, Pearsons’ and others. And by the way, we were told that this end of the Harrison’s are connected to William and his nephew Benjamin Harrison, America’s past presidents.
Should anyone be interested in touching base with me about the Harrison Heritage, just leave a comment with your contact info, and I will get back to you.
First Presbyterian Church of Skagway is the home of God’s disciples who
are called to follow Christ in this unique Alaska setting by living out their mission statement: “As children of God we embrace our call to share the Good News of the Gospel through worship, fellowship and open doors providing a nurturing environment as we grow in Christ and minister to our greater community.”
African Children’s Choir performance at Skagway Presbyterian Church
African Children’s choir: The choir performed three times in Skagway during this past Labor Day weekend -. at the First Presbyterian Church, at the Skagway School. All concerts are free admission. There are CDs available. The African Children’s Choir™ is made up of some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in their countries. Many have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The African Children’s Choir™ helps these children break away from the everyday cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Before being selected to join the Choir, children, generally aged between 7 and 11 attend Music for Life camps. These camps are fun and stimulating environments that provide a break from the daily hardships the young children face at home. Children selected to tour will spend approximately five months at the Choir Training Academy in Kampala, Uganda. Here the children learn the songs and dances, attend school, play and attend Sunday School at a local church. Check out their website: http://www.africanchildrenschoir.com/ for more information.
So, Captain Thomas Harrison, who wrote in that Branford book was an ancestor and related to my husband Thomas Harrison Claus.
Any Harrison’s around that are direct descendents of the Richard Harrison Jr. of Newark, NJ?
Did you have a relative that was on the Titanic? Who do you know that was booked on the Titanic? A great, great aunt, uncle, grandparent? This is the Titanic famous fables year of remembrance.
Spirit of the Blythe Titanic 24x30 Oil by Gail Ingis Claus
In its innocence, the Titanic was cruising along not realizing it was about to change the lives of twenty-two hundred people. It is one hundred years since the maiden voyage of the Titanic. What is magical about its one hundred years? The14th of April is the date, one hundred years ago, that it sunk. It sunk taking 1523 men, women and children and crew and everyone’s worldly goods with it. No one noticed the iceberg, no one heeded warnings from other ships, no one believed the Titanic could sink.
Only ten percent of an iceberg is above water. If you see six feet, then there is sixty more feet of iceberg beneath the water.
Iceberg above and below
By the time the captain of the Titanic discovered the iceberg, the ship was along side it as it ripped a gash in its hull. The ship’s engineers claimed the Titanic was unsinkable. If a disaster happened, it would be its own lifeboat. It was compartmentalized to contain any water so that most of the ship would be safe from filling with the sea water.
Some, 705 passengers, did escape the watery death, most of them women and children, who watched in horror from their lifeboats, as their husbands and fathers went down with the ship or languished in the Atlantic’s frigid waters until the freezing cold pulled the life from them or they got sucked down with the ship. Distress calls reached the Carpathia. But they were four hours away. When they finally reached the site, it was too late.
According to history, the sinking of this ship robbed the lives of folks who were lower on the pay scale than the wealthy, like those in steerage, restaurant workers, folks who were coming to the USA to find a better life. Since sinking ships know no class, the rich went down with the poor.
It is strange and newsworthy, the wealthy paid hefty sums for their cabins, according to the History Channel’s report on April 10th, sums of $90,000 for a cabin were not unusual.
Would you come to our Titanic Collaboration show?
We would love to have you. Come to Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum on Thursday, April 26, 5-7 P.M. The Titanic Collaboration Art Show will be opening for your viewing pleasure. Free. Please RSVP 203-838-9799 extension 4.
Fashionable Londoners in front of Harrods, 1909. The trailing skirts and broad-brimmed hats of mid-decade are giving way to narrower dresses and hats with deep crowns. Men wear top hats with formal morning dress or bowlers with lounge suits.
As the sea closed over the Titanic, Lady Cosmo duff Gordon in Boat 1 remarked to her secretary Miss Francatelli, “There is your beautiful nightdress gone.”
A lot more than Miss Francatelli’s nightgown vanished that April night. Even more than the largest liner in the world, her cargo, and the lives of 1502 people.
Never again would men fling a ship into an ice field, heedless of warnings, putting their whole trust in a few thousand tons of steel and rivets. From now on Atlantic liners took ice messages seriously, steered clear, or slowed down. Nobody believed in the “unsinkable ship.”
Nor would icebergs any longer prowl the seas untended. After the Titanic sank, the American and British governments established the International Ice Patrol, and today Coast Guard cutters shepherd errant icebergs that drift toward the steamer lanes. The winter lane itself was shifted further south, as an extra precaution.
It was also the last time a liner put to sea without enough lifeboats. And it was the end of class distinction in filling the boats. Not all the women were off the boats, it was at the end when dozens of women suddenly appeared. The statistics suggest who they were-the Titanic’s casualty list included four of 143 First Class Women (three by choice) . . . 15 of 93 Second Class women . . . and 81 of 179 Third Class women.
Not to mention the children. All 29 First and Second Class children were saved, but only 23 out of 76 steerage children. Neither the chance to be chivalrous nor the fruits of chivalry seemed to go with a Third Class passage.
In covering the Titanic, few reporters bothered to ask the Third Class passengers anything. The New York Times was justly proud of the way it handled the disaster. Yet the famous issue covering the Carpathia’s arrival in New York contained only two interviews with Third Class pasengers. This apparently was par for the course-of 43 survivor accounts in the New York Herald, two again were steerage experiences.
The night was a magnificent confirmation of “Women and children first,” yet somehow the loss rate was higher for Third Class children than First Class men. It was a contrast which would never get by the social consciousness (or news sense) of today’s press.
At the opposite extreme, it was also the last time the special position of First Class was accepted without question. When the Titanic sailed, the New York Times listed the prominent passengers on the front page. After she sank, New New York American broke the news on April 16 with a lead devoted almost entirely to John Jacob Astor. At the end it mentioned that 1800 others were also lost.
There was a wonderful intimacy about this little world of the Edwardian rich. There was no flicker of surprise when they bumped into each other, whether at the Pyramids (a great favorite), the Cowes Regatta, or the springs at Baden-Baden. They seemed to get the same ideas at the same time, and one of these ideas was to make the maiden voyage of the largest ship in the world.
So the Titanic’s trip was more like a reunion than an ocean passage. All First Class were shoulder to shoulder friends with the Captain, Stewards and others as themselves. But the water was the same for all. The sea broke a man’s resistance. The temperature of the water was 28 degrees-well below freezing. To Second Officer Lightoller it felt like “A thousand knives” driven into his body. In water like this, lifebelts did no good.
How anyone survived is questionable. The Titanic marked the end of a general feeling of confidence. Until then men felt they had found the answer to a steady, orderly, civilized life. For 100 years the Western world had been at peace. Technology had steadily improved. The benefits of peace and industry seemed to be filtering satisfactorily through society. The Titanic woke them up. Never again would they be quite so sure of themselves. The “unsinkable ship”, went down taking with it the dream of man’s greatest engineering achievement.
How would you do on a sinking ship? What would you do to survive?
Credit to Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, ed. 1955, Henry Holt and Company, New York.
Historic Time Periods
Gilded Age America: 1870s to 1890s
Progressive Era America: 1890s to 1920s
Belle Epoque Europe: 1880s to 1910s
Victorian Era: 1837-1901
Edwardian Era: 1901-1914
World War One: 1914-1918