Q: Where did Churchill write the Iron Curtain address?
When we first moved to the United States we bought a home in New Canaan, Connecticut that had once been owned by Bernard Baruch and used has his get-away. We were told that, as he and Churchill were friends, Churchill had been invited by Baruch to stay there and it was there he wrote his Iron Curtain speech. We were never sure whether this was true or whether it was something a local real estate agent had dreamed up. There was another house down the road where George Washington was said to have slept on his way through! —M.A.
A: Frank Clarke’s in Miami Beach
Churchill did not visit Baruch in New Canaan before the Iron Curtain speech (Fulton, Missouri, 6 March). Indeed I can find no record of his ever being there. Baruch often hosted him at his Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City, and at Hobcaw Barony, his South Carolina estate, but not, it seems, New Canaan.
Except for a week’s side-trip to Cuba, Churchill’s prep for the Iron Curtain speech was done at 5905 North Bay Road in Miami Beach. It was then the home of Col. Frank Clarke, the Canadian wood pulp magnate. Clarke had hosted him at Lake of the Woods after the 1943 Quebec Conference.
I’m obliged to you for the question, though, because it put me on to a Churchill press conference I hadn’t noticed. It occurred in New York after he and Clementine arrived on the Queen Elizabeth, 14 January. I really had to write it down. His press conferences were rare, but always fun. From a book worth having: Robert Pilpel, Churchill in America 1895-1961……
At 9:30 P.M. Winston and Clementine descended the gang-plank to the sounds of cheers and applause. Churchill flashed the V sign and remarked, “I thank you for this very private reception.” He and his wife were then ushered into a large heated waiting room, and a proper press conference began:
New York Press Conference
Q. Are you available for any syndicate offers?
A. I am always prepared to accept any offer.
Q. Will you comment on the socialist program of the Labour Party?
A. I never criticize the government of my country abroad. I very rarely leave off criticizing it at home.
Q. Do you expect to eat much in America?
A. After rationing I hope to make up for lost time; I cannot say for lost weight.
Q. What is your reaction to the British White Paper fixing a quota for Jewish immigration into Palestine?
A. I am opposed to it. As you know, I am a Zionist from the very beginning of this great experiment.
Q. What is your reaction to the fact that you will be living in Florida near Al Capone?
A. Oh, you refer to the former distinguished resident of Chicago. I had not addressed myself to the problem.
Q. How do you feel about sharing the secret of the atomic bomb?
A. I think it would be a great mistake to share it until there have been arrangements made for the control of such a dread agency.
Q. Is it true that you are writing your memoirs?
A. No. And I don’t know that I shall write them, or whether if I write them they will ever be published while I am still alive. But you don’t know when I may jot down a few things that might be of interest.
Q. Are you taking a train tonight?
A. I am leaving on a train which is going out.
All Ready on the Firing Line
“And indeed he was.” Robert Pilpel continues. “He posed for a last few photographs and then announced cheerfully, ‘I’m off for Alabam’ – or thereabouts.’ He went directly to Pennsylvania Station. Next stop: Miami Beach via the Seaboard Coast Line.
The Iron Curtain speech had been long in his mind. But he drafted the text, vetted wisely by his wife, at Clarke’s. The Iron Curtain draft complete, the Churchills left Miami Beach on March 1st. Again the used a Pullman sleeper, now bound for Washington. Ahead lay another train ride with President Truman, and the historic events that followed.