Albert Clinton Spooner, Jr., was born March 30, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, also named Albert Clinton Spooner, was born 1883 in Brooklyn. His mother, Florence Louise MacKewan, was born 1890 in Brooklyn. His parents married on June 11, 1907. They had two children. His older sister Florence Louise Spooner was born in 1908. They lived in Clinton Hill at 385 Lafayette Avenue.
His father was a prominent Brooklyn insurance lawyer and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. His mother was an active club woman in the Brooklyn social circle. She was a popular committee member of social events, dances, balls, teas, charities and debutante parties.
From 1919 to 1930 he attended the Brooklyn Friends School at 112 Schermerhorn Street, which offered progressive education from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The school produced a monthly periodical, School Life, which included student art and poetry. As a youngster he contributed drawings to this magazine and was proud to see his work published. By the time he was in the Upper School he was inspired to become a professional illustrator like the artists he most admired, Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944) and James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960).
While only a Sophomore he became the Art Chairman of the Senior Dramatics Club. On March 31, 1928 they performed "The Goose Hangs High" by Lewis Beach, which was the first three-act play ever performed at the school. He also acted in the cast. Two years later he was President of the Brooklyn Friends School Senior Dramatic Club. On March 28, 1930 they presented "The Patsy" a comedy in three acts by Barry Conners at the Little Theater in Brooklyn.
He was precocious enough to skip a grade an graduate at the age of seventeen on June 13, 1930. During the ceremony on Class Day he delivered a speech on the history of the Class of 1930.
One of his neighborhood friends was Robert L. Graef (1914-2002), the son of the celebrated Brooklyn illustrator, Robert A. Graef (1879-1951).
In September 1931 he enrolled in the Art School at the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn. The campus was literally across the street from his family home in Clinton Hill. One of his teachers was Frederick Blakeslee, a young former student of Pratt, who taught Drawing and also lived one block away.
After one year he left Pratt to study at the Art Students League of New York on West 57th Street in Manhattan.
In 1932 he was a handsome young artist of nineteen from a wealthy Brooklyn family, whose mother was a noted grand dame of high society, a chairwoman and president of several social clubs, all of which mae him a popular eligible bachelor. His mother made sure he attended debutante parties, Cinderella Balls, and receptions of the Illuminati Club at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the Towers Hotel, and the grand mansions in Great Neck, Long Island, in much the same lifestyle as The Great Gatsby. These sumptuous social events were lavishly staged in contrast to the widespread hardships of the Great Depression.
In 1933 he joined the Brooklyn Painters and Sculptors Social Club, which held an annual ball with spectacular costumed pageants. In 1934 he became Chairman of the Junior Committee of the Third Annual Artists Ball of Brooklyn Painters and Sculptors at the Towers Hotel.
On April 23, 1935, after three months of illness, his mother, Florence Louise MacKewan Spooner, died in St. John's Hospital at the age of fifty. He was devastated by the tragic death of the matriarch of the Spooner family.
In 1936 stylish pen and ink drawings with his flamboyant signature began to appear in pulp magazines, such as All-Story Love, Rangeland Love Stories, Love Book, Four Star Love, and Thrilling Western.
During the summer of 1937 he traveled to Europe and returned on the S.S. Champlain on August 11.
In 1938 at the age of twenty-five he and his thirty-year-old sister continued to attend Brooklyn debutante parties, social teas, breakfasts, balls, dances, and horse shows along with a younger generation of upper class eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.
According to the New York Times on March 9, 1940 his sister addressed two thousand members and guests of the New York City Federation of Women's Clubs at their 37th annual celebration at the Hotel Astor Ballroom. Following the club president's injunction for all speakers to be as gay as possible, and to poke fun at their own dress, mannerisms, and tendencies, Miss Florence Louise Spooner, corresponding secretary of the group, read a poem written by her and entitled "My Ninety-ninth Convention," which was interspersed with satire of club women continually "powdering their noses and religiously following Dame Fashion without knowing why."
In 1942 his father retired from law practice and sold the home in Clinton Hill, after which the Spooner family moved to 43-16 48th Street in Sunnyside, Queens, NY.
He continued to sell illustrations to the pulp fiction romance magazine All-Story Love, but because of his family's financial security his career was not as desperately ambitious as other artists.
On October 17, 1942 he reported to his local draft board for enlistment in WWII military service. He was recorded at the time to be twenty-nine, six foot tall and 163 pounds. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper reported on November 25, 1942, "Clinton Spooner of Sunnyside, Queens, has arrived at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for training in the Army Engineers."
After the war he returned to live with his father and older sister in Sunnyside, Queens.
On April 12, 1958 his father died at the age of seventy-four.
Two years later Albert Clinton Spooner, Jr. died at the age of forty-seven on June 5, 1960.
His sister stayed on another nine years in their empty apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, until Christmas Eve, December 24, 1969, when she died at the age of sixty-one. Like her brother the last surviving member of the once socially prominent Spooner family never married and had no children.
© David Saunders 2011