What fun! During the 1970s, I worked as Legislative Aide to Cincinnati City Council Member Charlie Taft, on City Council for over 30 years, Mayor for 2 years in the late 1950s. And I got to relive those days a week ago, talking about those memories at the William Howard Taft National Park on Auburn Avenue in Mt. Auburn.
Charlie was the son of William Howard Taft, younger by 10 years than his brother, Mr. Republican, Ohio Senator and father of former Governor Robert A. Taft, Jr. Charlie was Charles P. Taft II, named after his uncle, William Howard Taft’s brother, who owned and lived in what is now the Taft Museum here in Cincinnati. That brother married Anna Sinton, whose father gave them a wedding gift of the Taft home. Which is how the original Charles P. Taft came to have enough money to support his brother, the President and Chief Justice, whose public service salaries never matched the family’s needs.
Charlie spent more time in the White House when Teddy Roosevelt was president, with his best friend Quentin Roosevelt. By the time his own father was president, he was at the Taft School in Connecticut (his Uncle Horace’ school) and then on to Yale. After stint in World War I (where Quentin was killed), Charlie came back to Yale for Law School, and then to Cincinnati, the family’s home, though he had never lived here.
He helped create the Charter Party here, to rid Cincinnati of bossism, and then, during and after World War II, worked hard in Washington DC on implementing the Marshall Plan – the reconstruction of Europe. Once he was back here, he ran for City Council as a Charterite, wrote a book about Charter, wrote and read a several times a week column for WNOP – the jazz station, Radio Free Newport, practiced law (he was the original Taft in Taft, Stettinius and Hollister), and headed up the National Council of Churches for a number of years.
He also kept a canoe on top of his car – in case he should suddenly take a notion to go fishing, usually in the Little Miami River.
Charlie lived – and really enjoyed – a great life. What a privilege – and what fun – it was to share a part of that long and beautiful life with him.