"Q.: Mr. Beck, how did you meet Charles Gibson?
L.B.: I had been living in Boston, and I read a Life magazine article about him. It was about 1939 or 1940. One day, I just stopped in--I just stopped at the house here and told him I was interested in old homes and such, and so he invited me in, and showed me around. At that time India’s separation from Great Britain was a big event, and Mr. Gibson was corresponding with Ghandi.
[Editorial note: It is highly unlikely that Charlie had a butler at this time, especially if he was so cash conscious. He more likely had a hired hand, a "man of all work" who did a variety of tasks.]
L.B.: Mr. Gibson was always thinking that things weren’t what they once were. Boston was changing. Harvard admitted people who once would never have gone there, he said. He lived for this house. He lived for the old times. He was so fond of his mother. He was conscious of who he was. But he was very careful [of money]. I remember once when I came over he suggested that we go 'round to the Ritz Carlton bar for a drink. When we put on our coats to go out, he put on a raccoon coat with a big split up the sleeve. He wore it that way. We went to the bar, and after we had had drinks, and he had paid for them, the waitress stood by [waiting for her tip]. He waved her away, and said, “I’ll take care of you later.” He never did, though. He was very careful with money, and class conscious.
No, he really didn’t want things to change. He was part of the old times, the formal times. He always shopped at Brooks Brothers. He was always dressed properly.
I especially remember one thing about him: he was a chain smoker. He was always smoking, and of course there were ashes, so he carried everywhere in the house with him a little broom on a long handle. When he dropped the ashes, he would brush them into the rug and say it was good for keeping moths away."
What I find most striking about this interview is Mr. Beck's overall characterization of Charlie as someone who "really didn't want things to change." He mentions this several times, and this is what has always struck me as a mainstay of Charlie's personality. What Mr. Beck seems to have witnessed in many forms is that for Charlie Gibson, the passage of time was a painful ordeal.
by: Katie Schinabeck, Former Museum Guide
Beck, Lester. Interview with Gibson House Museum Staff Member. 29 October, 1988.