by Nick Grabbe
Ray Stannard Baker was already a well-known journalist when he moved to Amherst in 1910, and he lived on Sunset Avenue until his death in 1946. President Wilson sent him on a fact-finding mission to Europe during World War I, and Baker wrote a multi-volume biography of Wilson that won the Pulitzer Prize. Baker also wrote one of the first books about race relations in America.
Baker led a double life. His alter ego was called David Grayson, and the books under this name were very popular. A mix of homespun philosophy, country wisdom and quiet humor, they sold 2 million copies and were translated into multiple languages. For 10 years, there was speculation about who wrote the David Grayson books, and many were shocked to learn it was Baker because his hard-hitting journalistic style was so different.
Nick Grabbe was a newspaper editor and writer based in Amherst for 32 years. When he became editor of the Amherst Bulletin in 1980, it was one of four weekly newspapers based here! He retired in 2013; in 2016 he was elected to a commission charged with proposing a new form of government for Amherst. He supported the plan to create a 13-person Town Council to replace Town Meeting, and pushed to keep a town manager instead of electing a mayor. He is currently during final revisions on a book about his life.