That Baby: Justice Jackson's Writings about a Grandchild, and Vice Versa

By Loftus, Thomas A.,, III | Albany Law Review, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

That Baby: Justice Jackson's Writings about a Grandchild, and Vice Versa


Loftus, Thomas A.,, III, Albany Law Review


As Justice Jackson's ("Grampa's") oldest grandchild (born in March 1946), I was able to observe him from a perspective that most people did not--from a crib, or from under the dining table, for example. Seriously, my younger brother Bob and I were fortunate to spend a good bit of time with him, and at his Hickory Hill home in McLean, Virginia, because my family lived nearby from 1949 until his death in October 1954. Of course, he was the chief inspiration for my legal career.

Grampa mused about becoming a grandfather, upon hearing in a letter from his daughter Mary--our mother--that she was expecting (me). He wrote back to her on the West Coast in September 1945, when he was en route to Nuremburg to prepare for the International Military Tribunal.

   Your atom bomb dropped on the house while I was at home
   and I am very glad to hear that I am to be a grand pappy. Of
   course it makes me feel a little ancient, but I have the feel
   anyway, so I might as well have the perquisite of old
   age--grandchildren. I know you have too much sense to get your
   heart set on a particular sex for the infant--just want what
   you get and be happy about it. Also don't let every damned
   hysterical old maid scare you about it. There is nothing to
   fear except fear itself as F.D.R. would say. (1)

Grampa added that if our father, Tom Loftus, M.D., who was in the Navy, was ordered to the Pacific before the blessed event:

   I shall try to substitute as well as my age and enfeebled
   condition will permit. I can walk the floor and worry as well
   as ever and confinement is really much more of an ordeal for
   a pa than for a ma--she knows what's going on and he
   conjures up the worst.

   Seriously I expect the Nuremburg trials to be over by that
   time but in any event I shall choose to be here if it is at all
   possible and if Tom can not be. Of course I shall spoil the
   discipline--just as my mother did yours. (2)

The trials he conducted would not end, however, until more than four months after I was born and our father was in the Pacific for the event too, courtesy of the Navy.

In May 1946, in a letter to his sister Helen from Nuremburg, Grampa noted reports about me and displayed his keenly skeptical legal mind.

   I hear great reports [about] Tommy Loftus III. I expect to
   get a letter from him any day now, for I gather from the
   modest accounts that he is bright enough to write any time.
   Great that every mother feels that way. Irene [his wife, my
   grandmother] and Mary seem to be having their own way
   about things with no husbands around to bicker or meddle.
   Anyway, I'll be glad to see the little rascal and see if he is as
   good as they say. (3)

After returning to his day job as a Supreme Court Justice, Grampa faced challenges balancing work and family. Once when I was a toddler, he attempted to carry me down the staircase at Hickory Hill in one arm, while toting law books in the other. As he reached the landing above the first floor, one of those loads must have shifted, because he lost his balance. He managed to deposit me gently on the carpeted stairs leading down, as he dropped to all fours, and I rolled all the way to the bottom. Mother and grandmother hurried to the scene, concerned that I might be injured, but I just broke into laughter and started calling up the stairs, "Dood it again Gwampa! Dood it again!" Everyone had a good chuckle about it.

At family meals, there often was spirited discussion of the issues of the day around the table--except for Grampa. I recollect that generally, Grampa would listen silently while family members bantered about their opinions. He would listen politely but not respond, giving no hint as to whether he agreed with any of it. (I don't recall anyone opining on legal matters he faced at the Court, and I am sure he would not have tolerated that.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

That Baby: Justice Jackson's Writings about a Grandchild, and Vice Versa
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?