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Herbert Hoover

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Starting with casual conversation at the dinner table as a child discussing the issues of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to serving in the American Navy during WWII, to ending his life as a another American citizen who faced the cruel reality of American society during the years of the depression and WWII . Baker's life, portrayed in the biography Growing Up illustrates the hardship the average American life during the 19

During this second phase of his life, Baker exchanged maternal for paternal uncles, resulting in an early exposure to heated political debate in the home, often centering on the relative merits of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. In the Belleville elementary school which he attended at this time, came the first taste of literary success: faced with a writing assignment on produce, the youngster came up with an essay on wheat. An ecstatic teacher read this production to her class, although they appeared to be unmoved offending

In 1937, on the advice of another brother, Baker's mother took her two children to live in Baltimore, home of a great essayist of that period, H. L. Mencken. The family struggled financially. Baker was able to contribute a bit with a part-time job as newspaper deliverer, but the nightmare of having to go on relief, of having to accept government-surplus food, smuggled surreptitiously into the home under flimsy camouflage, became a reality for these proud people.

By the end of the 1930s, however, the situation had eased. Baker, without any definite prospects of attending college, nevertheless completed secondary school in Baltimore's fine "City College"--a college preparatory school with a rigorous traditional curriculum, including requirements in German, French, and Latin. When Baker was 16, his mother remarried and the family was able to move into a home of its own. At this time Baker remembers that he had only one strong professional ambition--to become a writer--although this did not seem likely to provide a viable livelihood. "It gave me a way of thinking about myself which satisfied my need to have an identity." He was persuaded by a high school classmate to take the entrance examination for Johns Hopkins University, passed, and was admitted on scholarship in the summer of 1942--six months after America's entrance into World War II. Baker was able to complete only one year of college; he enlisted in the navy in 1943, spending the rest of the war in flight training in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

After the war, Baker returned to Johns Hopkins. Visions of becoming another Hemingway obsessed him. After graduation in 1947, with the help of his creative writing teacher, he got a job on the Baltimore Sun. The idea was that this experience would be good training for a fledgling



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