CHARLES TERWILLIGER

A personal biography by his son
Robert Terwilliger


Early Life

Charles Ostrander Terwilliger Jr. was born in Pawtucket Rhode Island, March 22nd 1908. His father was Charles O. Terwilliger Sr. His mother was Josephine Edgerton Badeau.  C.O.T. Sr. was a chemist and inventor. The family moved to various locations in the northeastern US and spent some time in Germany, finally moving to Mt. Vernon, NY. Charles attended Phillips Andover Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While at MIT, he met his wife Roberta Emily Thornburg who was his sister's roommate at Radcliffe.

His stay at MIT coincided with prohibition. Using his natural mechanical skills he built a car out of spare parts. He called it "the lobster pot". Calling on his natural business skills he began using the lobster pot to transport grain alcohol from his father's lab in Mt Vernon for sale to students in Cambridge.

On December 7th 1941, I was three months old and my father was stationed on the U.S. west coast in an Army Reserve coastal artillery unit. Before being shipped to the Pacific his unit was given a final physical. Charles did not pass the physical and was returned to civilian life.

He had some difficulty finding a job in engineering so he took a job in Manhattan as an advertising space salesman for MacFadden Publications. They were the publishers of pulp magazines for the women's market - the precursors of today's soap operas. Titles included "True Story", "True Confessions" and the most popular "Photoplay". In 1961 MacFadden Publications became MacFadden-Bartell Publications. At this time the Terwilliger family - Charles and Roberta, their daughter Anne and son Robert lived just outside Bronxville New York, a small town one-half hour from Manhattan either by commuter train or car.

The job of an advertising salesman was highly stressful. A necessary ritual of the business at this time was to use his expense account to take advertising space buyers out to lunch, usually someplace that became an up-scale nightclub after dark. He was well known at "The Stork Club" and "21". While Charles did manage to avoid the pitfall of the "three martini lunch" he did develop the syndrome called "advertising ulcer" at the time. His doctor suggested he get a hobby to allow his mind to get off the constant pressures of his job.