The Spencer Side
According to my parents’ research, we descended from the same Spencer family as the late English Princess Diana (her maiden name was Spencer). The connection was established through branches back to another notable Englishman, Sir Winston Churchill, whose middle name was also Spencer. Evidently, both Diana and my father are distant relatives of his. Our direct line of Spencers initially came to America in the 1600s and settled in Connecticut.
My dad, before retiring, made his career in education, as an elementary school teacher, then college professor and dean, and later served under president Grayson Kirk at Columbia University during the height of the late 60’s riots there. Then he was appointed President of The Western College in Oxford, Ohio (now a part of Miami University of Ohio), and later President of Lindenwood College in St. Charles Missouri.
The Bailey Side (my mother’s family)
I think my dad’s heritage is pretty cool, but I have to admit that I myself am probably a bit more cut from the cloth of my mother’s side (so my career in British royalty is perhaps somewhat doubtful).
She’s an accomplished artist, specializing in oil paintings and pen and ink drawings. Interestingly though, it turns out she also has a talent for music that, for whatever reason, she chose to leave largely undeveloped (she sings very well, even to this day, in her 80’s). It’s her ancestry that I relate to best, in many ways.
My mother (right) at about age nine, with a friend, crabbing in the shallow waters off the Brielle summer home’s back yard. This original oil painting, like all the others on this page, is by my grandfather, Henry Lloyd Bailey
Her father, Henry Lloyd Bailey, was...well...let’s see...a painter, sculptor, inventor, designer, songwriter, photographer, film maker (he made numerous fully produced home movies, including special effects, usually starring my mother when she was a little girl, in the 1920’s!), marine historian, poet, comedian, ventriloquist, game designer, championship archer, impressionist and actor.
The schooner Henry S. Little. Currently hanging in my hallway, it’s one of my most cherished possessions
There’s more I’m sure, but that’s all I can remember for now. He played too many different musical instruments to list (almost all of them, actually), but most often banjo and guitar. We have a photograph of my grandparents and a large group of their friends, all playing different musical instruments one evening in the early part of last century. Back before MTV...
His father and his brothers were avid sailors, as I have become in my life. I was recently given, as a Christmas gift, a trophy from a sailboat race my great grandfather won in 1919. There are others dating back to the late 1800s. My great grandfather, Forman O. Bailey, owned a fleet of sailing cargo ships that carried wood and other commodities to New Jersey ports in the last half of the century before they were replaced by steam powered ships. He later became a championship sailboat racer too.
Forman Osborn Bailey, right, and his brother George, racing on the “Romp” in the early 1900s
Much of my grandfather’s art and model making is related to his father’s sailing ships, including an oil painting of the four-masted schooner the “Henry S. Little” that hangs in my studio above a display of the trophies that my own crew won racing “Presto”, the sailboat I owned in the 80s and 90s. My grandfather was nothing if not prolific; there are hundreds of works of art depicting every aspect of his family’s life
My grandfather died when I was only nine, but I still remember him vividly. He was always doing something creative or entertaining, and he loved spending time with me and my brothers. I would have to say in all honesty that I idolized him. He was the fundamental inspiration for my own career in the arts.
Union Landing, Brielle New Jersey, circa 1868. The ships depicted are from my great-grandfather’s fleet, shown loading pine logs for transport to other ports. The ships were nicknamed “Piney Wooders”
Along with my mother and the rest of my family I’m working on a video documentary of his life and his art and its depiction of the Bailey family’s sailing history, based substantially on an exhibit we designed and presented at a museum in Manasquan New Jersey where they originally settled. The museum itself is actually in a former Bailey family home from the mid-19th century. I expect the video to be completed by the end of 2005.