elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

John Spofford Morgan & Louis Halsey

When the Columbia Library closed each night at ten, it was the custom of John Spofford Morgan, who was studying for a master’s in international affairs, to hop on the subway and head downtown to the New Verdi on West 72nd. Back then, there were two kinds of bars for gay men, he says: pickup joints and old-friends joints. The New Verdi was the latter, but it turned into the former when at around 10:30 on May 17, 1947, Louis Halsey walked in. “Love at first sight,” says Lou now. “Was it?” John wonders. “For me it was slower.” In any case, Lou and John spent the night together, just as they have spent most nights in the following 6 decades. They married on November 11, 2011.

When they married, John was 94, recovering from a broken hip but otherwise as hale and handsome as Lou, 88, says he always was. One snapshot shows the pair on a beach in Beirut in 1952. Lou looks like Tony Curtis, glossy and pompadoured. John looks like JFK except, as his mother used to complain when people compared their families, “we have chins.”

Both served in the Navy in World War II, but on different oceans, as in a way they were from different worlds on land. John, who still speaks in the accent of the turn-of-the-twentieth-­century elite, worked as an economist. Lou, of Hungarian-immigrant stock, cut hair for decades at the Westbury Hotel. He wears rings and bright colors; John emphatically doesn’t.


When the Columbia Library closed each night at ten, it was the custom of John Spofford Morgan to hop on the subway and head downtown to the New Verdi on West 72nd. At around 10:30 on May 17, 1947, Louis Halsey walked in. “Love at first sight,” said Lou. “Was it?” John wondered. “For me it was slower.” In any case, Lou and John spent the night together, just as they have spent most nights in the following 6 decades. They married on November 11, 2011. Louis died on October 10, 2014, and on his obituary there is written: he is survived by his husband, John Spofford Morgan.

But being gay was a great equalizer then. And being married is a great equalizer now. “People say, ‘So if you’re married, where’s the certificate?’ ” Lou explains. “Now we have it.” The pair ignored domestic partnership when it came along (“A halfway step,” says John), and since they had already invested in the complicated legal work-arounds—trusts, powers of attorney—needed to protect one another, they didn’t see the point of claiming marriage rights in, say, Iowa. But when the law passed in New York in June 2011, they knew they would take the step. “Just to see it in black and white,” says Lou. For John, “it was more like finishing something.”

The small ceremony, with a minister and three witnesses, was held in their Village apartment on November 11, a date they chose because they have for years noticed the time 11:11 on the clock by the bed. They did not exchange rings and got no gifts, “except bourbon!” Lou says. “But he”—he waves at John—“started to cry.”

“Did I?” John wonders.

Louis E. Halsey, longtime resident of Norfolk, died October 10, 2014, at Pleasant Valley Nursing Home in Stroudsburg, Penn. He was survived by his husband, John Spofford Morgan, who died on April 28, 2015. They are buried together at Center Cemetery, Norfolk, CT.

John Spofford Morgan was the great-grandson of Ainsworth Rand Spofford (12 September 1825 – 11 August 1908), an American journalist and publisher. He was the sixth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1864 to 1897.

Source: http://nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/2011/gay-marriage/

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: days of love, eccentric: john spofford morgan, eccentric: louis halsey
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