Carolyn Wing Greenlee

The Zornes-Baker Connection

I first met Hal Baker at one of the events I did with Milford Zornes and his associate and friend, Bill Anderson, at the Museum of History and Art in Ontario, California. Hal, an enthusiastic, outgoing man, introduced himself to me as Maria’s husband. Maria is Pat and Milford’s daughter. Since I had given Pat a copy of every book I’ve written (because she loved to read, and because Milford shows up in most of my books), Hal and Maria began reading those books. That’s how we became friends. Maria and I found we have much in common, being the daughters of famous men with one-track minds. Our visits are characterized with lots of stories and laughter. And I felt both privileged to hear those stories and guilty because, just as when Milford gave me commentaries on his paintings, it seemed too much of a treasure to be shared with an audience of one.

At our last visit, hearing yet another Zornes story, I asked Hal if he had more of those. He said he had a ton of them. When I said I had a new website and would like to share them, he said he would send me some soon. That night I had four. They continue to come regularly. I intend to share my own as well. I also have a ton of them.

My parents used to celebrate my birthday for one whole week. In honor of Milford’s birthday, this week will be full of Zornes stories. But first here’s Hal telling how he came to have so many of them:

When Maria and I stayed with Pat and Milford at their home in Claremont, California, he would often tell stories, talk about events and tell about his philosophy. I would listen to Milford and when he was done, I would go into our bedroom and write down what he had told me as close to original as I could remember. Even if I did not get the words exact the gist of the story is what he said. My hope was to capture Milford without filters or concern that he was talking to an audience. I wanted original and not prepared comments. I also wanted to preserve those things that would no longer be available when he passed away. My degree is in history and Milford was living history that needed to be recorded. Because I am his son-in-law, I think I caught Milford at moments when he fully shared what he thought.

(now on with the stories):


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