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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE PETER PAN PRINCIPLE


I suppose you have heard of the most famous work by Dr. Laurence Peter, “The Peter Principle.” It states that in any hierarchy “every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”. Well, I have observed a related behavior in human males which I call “The Peter Pan Principle”. Peter Pan was the theatrical boy who never grew up, and my theory postulates that males achieve only that level of maturity they achieve by the age of 12 – after which time they will mature no further. The prime example of such a life long adolescence is Arthur Brown , second cousin to Calvin Coolidge, and a man whose dramatic life reached its pinnacle on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and its nadir ten years later and a block away, on the floor of a hotel bedroom. To put it another way - Arthur Brown slept his way to the bottom.
Arthur grew in up in the 1840's on a Michigan farm, with two older sisters -he was a baby Moses floating in an estrogen sea. Family friends generously described him as possessing a “keen intellect” but less perceptive on “moral issues”. When he was 13 his progressive minded parents dragged him to the center of Ohio so that his older sisters could attend the Unitarian funded Antioch College. As was to be expected given its provenance, the academic standards at this institute of higher learning were high, while the standards of discipline were a bit fuzzy. The students did not pass or fail, they instead received a “narrative evaluation” for each class. It was the perfect environment for Arthur, altho he seems to have been confused as to the advice of the schools first President, Horace Mann; “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
After graduating from Antioch, Arthur earned a law degree and spent the Civil War years back in Kalamazoo Michigan, building a successful criminal law practice, marrying, and fathering a daughter. And when his mid-life crises came, Arthur's response was almost per-ordained. He fell in love with Ms. Isabel Cameron, daughter of the powerful Republican State Senator, David “The Don” Cameron. Arthur bought his new mistress a new horse and buggy, and rented her a house. Now, no rational person would have expected to keep such a high profile romance secret in a town of just 20,000. And one night in 1876 Arthur's offended spouse surprised the loving couple in his law offices. Mrs. Brown was armed with a loaded revolver, but luckily she proved a poor marks-woman. The entire town sided with the wife, who threw Arthur out. The man-child Cassanova now moved to Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.
Arthur was expecting to be appointed the U.S. District Attorney for Utah, but the pall of smoke from the bridges he had burned in Kalamazoo obscured his prospects. So he opened a law office at 212 South Main Street in Salt Lake City (above), where he quickly duplicated his Michigan success. The local newspaper judged Arthur to be “a good hater,.” and described him as “Gentile in faith, but a Mormon in practice.” By 1879, when he was rejoined by the still smitten Isabel, Arthur was a millionaire. And the instant his Michigan divorce was finalized, Isabel became the second Mrs. Brown. The happy couple bought a fine house in the fashionable section of South Temple Street, and, in time produced a son , whom they named Max. In 1894 Arthur was sent to Washington as one of Utah state's first two senators. The New York Times described him as “an intense, bitter partisan...Always pugnacious...” His honorary post ended after only one year, and he did not run for re-election. He returned to his law practice and his family, in that order. In 1896 Arthur was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in St. Louis. And it was there he met his new mistress, a secretary for the local Republican party, Mrs. Anne Maddison Bradley. He was 53, and she was 23.
Annie was the editor of the Salt Lake City Woman's Club magazine, a member of the Woman’s Press Club and the Poet's Roundtable. She was also a charter member of the Salt Lake City Unitarian Church. She was everything a rich Unitarian might seek in a mistress, if you overlooked her husband and two children. But wouldn't that just make her more likely to be discreet? The convention nominated William McKinley on the first ballot, allowing Arthur and Anne to consummated their affair so quickly that Arthur overlooked yet another impediment to his new mistress - a vine of insanity intertwining around several branches of Annie's family tree.
Back in booming Salt Lake City (above), Annie separated from her husband, Clarence. He started drinking to excess, and then gambling to excess. A couple of years later Clarence conveniently ended up in jail. Anne testified later that Arthur then “began coming to my house at very unseemly hours, and I told him it must stop, but he answered. 'Darling, we will go through life together. I want you to have a son' and after several months we did.” Arthur Brown Bradley was born February 7, 1902. Shortly thereafter Arthur took a suite at the Independence Hotel. He informed Isabel he was going to file for divorce. He even took Annie on a trip to Washington, D.C, staying at the Raleigh Hotel, just behind the Capital, at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th street.
When the divorce papers arrived, Isabel was finally spurred to action. And when hitting Arthur with a horse whip did not dissuade him from seeing his mistress, Isabel had both Arthur and Annie arrested and charged with adultery - four times in six months. The Salt Lake City “Desert News" was present at the last arraignment. Said the News, “Arthur Brown On the Rampage...Says He Was Knocked Down By an Officer.” Arthur accused the police of notifying the newspapers, and denounced the arrest of Annie, in a very loud voice. “They dragged her through the streets", he shouted, "one on each side of her. Armed to the teeth. Cowards! Cowards! Cowards!” Judge Christopher Diehl asked Arthur, “How do you expect to keep such things out of the papers when you yell so you can be heard for two blocks?” Eventually the headlines would read, “Arthur Brown Goes Scot Free.”  But all the dramatics took a toll on poor Arthur.
His last arrest forced some reflection and re-evaluation upon Arthur. He moved back into the house on South Temple (above) with Isabel. Annie was offered a house of her own and $100 a month to stay a way from Arthur. She turned it down. And a few months later Arthur slipped away to meet Annie in room 11 of the Pacific hotel in Pocatello, Idaho. Their passionate reunion was interrupted by Isabel banging on the door. Arthur admitted his wife, at the same time asking his law partner to please, “Come in, I don't want to be left alone here with them.”
Annie began civilly enough. “How do you do, Mrs. Bradley? I have wanted to talk to you.” But Isabel's instinct was not for conversation. She clamped her hands around Annie's throat and began throttling her. The men separated the combatants, and the women spent the next several hours screaming accusations at each other, while Arthur cringed in the corner, the center of attention. Come the dawn, Isabel returned home and Arthur gave Annie a .32 caliber revolver, should Isabel seek a second confrontation. It seemed Annie had won.
But upon Annie's return to Salt Lake City, Arthur's law partner informed her that Isabel and Arthur had “reconciled”. The offer of a house and weekly stipend was renewed, and Arthur pointedly denied his paternity of Annie's son, Arthur Brown Bradley. And being three months pregnant, Annie reluctantly agreed. She gave birth to her second child by Arthur, Martin Montgomery Brown Bradly, on November 24, 1903. Despite promises to his wife, Arthur maintained a discreet contact with Annie, at least until August of 1905, when Isabel died of cancer. Abruptly the path seemed cleared for Annie and Arthur to marry. But they did not... that is, Arthur did not.
He was 63 years old now, and already had another mistress, someone closer to his own age for a change, Annie Adams Kiskadden (above, left). She was the mother of Utah's famed actress and creator of the role of Peter Pan, Maude Adams (above, right). If she did not know about the new mistress, Annie Bradley must have suspected it. She was now 33 years old herself, divorced, the mother of four, and had no income. Swallowing a little more pride she asked her millionaire boyfriend for $2,000 to start a new life. He ignored that request, but did present her with a one way train ticket to California. Then he left for Washington, D.C. This slap in the face snapped something in Annie, just the way something had snapped in the two Mrs. Browns. Annie traded in her ticket to California for one to Washington, D.C
Annie arrived in town on Saturday, December 8, 1906. As she expected, Arthur was registered again at the Raleigh Hotel (above). She registered as Mrs. A. Brown, and took the room next to Arthur's. Conning the maid into opening the connecting door, Annie searched Arthur's room until she found letters from Annie Kiskadden, which discussed marriage plans. No one should be surprised that after waiting for Arthur's return, Annie shot him with the gun he had given her for self defense.
What can you say about a man who keeps inspiring the women in his life to shoot at him? Once might be an accident,. twice might be an unlikely coincidence - but three times? When the hotel manager bent down over Arthur (above), he said only, “She shot me.” It turns out,  it was inevitable. Judging by the powder burns on his hands Arthur was reaching for the gun when Annie pulled the trigger. The Unitarian giggilo died six days later – December 13, 1906. His obituary in the New York Times noted with faint praise, that Arthur had been “intensely loyal to his male friends.” As proof of his lack of moral character, Arthur's will renounced both of his sons by Annie. “I expressly provide that neither or any of them shall receive anything from my estate.” It almost makes you wish he had lived, so she could have shot him again.
The jury agreed. Annie had entered a plea of “temporary insanity” but almost on the first anniversary of the shooting, and after nine hours of deliberations, the jury instead found Annie simply not guilty. The misdirected Juliet walked out of the court room a free woman. She went back to Salt Lake City (above) and opened an antique store called “My Shop” And she made a success of it, running her own business, on her own, until her death on November 11, 1950 .
Thus the life of Arthur Brown, who never seemed to get any older than he was at the age of twelve. And don't we all know a guy like that?
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