Jan 1878 - May 1966
On April 22, 1934, at 5:45 P.M., left Burbank Airport, Los Angeles, on Western Air Express plane for Salt Lake City, en route to Washington. The pilot headed the plane directly for the Sierra Madre mountains, with head up. He won. Going is a bit rough over the mountains. Their brush-clad tops were perhaps two thousand feet below us, but whenever the plane dropped into an air-pocket they seemed much closer than that. We passed over the eastern part of the Antelope Valley and I thought I recognized the Adelanto-Randsburg highway laid out like a narrow ribbon north and south. We passed to the west of Barstow and on a straight northeasterly course. The sun was set, but I could make out the red mountain on the south side of the town and some dark penciled lines which were the Santa Fe railroad tracks.
Presently the assistant pilot asked whether I would have hot consommé or hot coffee. I replied, Consommé, thank you. I dont know why. It was a weak solution, but it was scalding hot. Consequently, the usual effect was produced on the tender membrane of the roof of my mouth. The assistant pilot had developed juggling along with his flying talents. He did not spill a drop when pouring from the thermos bottles, although he had a hundred chances to do so. Then there were cold beef brown bread sandwiches and white bread sliced chicken sandwiches and shiny red apples. I noticed the men chose the brown bread beef sandwiches, while the women chose the white bread chicken kind. I wonder why? Perhaps the men think there is more wim and wigour in the darker feed.
As it grew darker the flames from the exhaust pipes of the two side engines flared out behind like stubby tailed comets. It was fascinating to watch them and to ponder comfortably about all that was going on in and about the plane and on the ground in relation to our transportation.
The lights of Las Vegas came into view sooner than I had expected. I thought we were going to pass on without stopping, but well out of the city the airport lights showed up. Our plane was swung into the face of the south wind, which had been on our tail, and landed. Sure enough we were about thirty minutes ahead of schedule. The south wind had done it.
After leaving Las Vegas the cabin lights were turned off. This permitted us to look out on the brilliant moon, and down on the rough earth. The airway beacons flashed and reflashed ahead of us and circled below us. A few light clouds like bits and streamers of fog appeared below us. The air was smoother here, but the roar of the engines was constant.
Now groups and rows of street lights begin to appear. As they increase we begin to lose altitude. Now we can make out lights moving slowly north and south and east and west. They must be automobiles. Of course they are! Then the red and blue lights at the air field and the plane swings around to face the south wind again; the cabin lights are turned on and announcement is made that we are at Salt Lake City, nearly an hour ahead of time. Again the stiff south wind on our tail did it.
The ticket man examined our tickets and rechecked our baggage. Also, we were given slips good for a meal at the restaurant in the building. I took two glasses of milk, not knowing what was ahead of me in the way of eats. Then the ticket man announced that the Oakland plane for the East would be an hour or so late because of fog over the Sierras, which had made a detour necessary. A passenger who was laying-over so as to take a daylight plane had gone into the mens lounge and locked the door. So a young Irishman and myself were told to go into the ladies lounge and make ourselves as comfortable as we could. The three young women passengers properly were occupying the three couches. My chair was a half flimsy piece of furniture and gave no support for my head, so I gave up and went out into the waiting room or foyer and lay down on a leather cushioned settee. It was short and my feet hung well over one end, but it was better than sitting up. I folded my overcoat for a pillow. It was now after midnight. Presently the porter brought me a pillow and I used my overcoat for a cover. The porter turned off the center brilliant lights and all was quiet for a moment. I awakened when the porter flashed the bright lights on again, and I saw two green clad stewardesses, one of them telling the other, We surely sat down. She had just come in on the plane from Oakland and the other, evidently, was our stewardess. As I arose I found the porter had spread a blanket over me while I slept. I was so sleepy and I was holding so tightly to the one idea of getting up and getting on the plane that I entirely forgot to tip the porter for his thoughtful services to me.
We got away to the East a little after two in the morning. Again the plane headed straight at the Wasatch mountains. Again the pilot won. He is supposed always to do so. Again the flashing beacons came into view one by one, and disappeared behind us. I must have slept again, because there was a blank of consciousness behind me when the stewardess said, Well soon be in Cheyenne and will have breakfast there. It was a little after five oclock now and daylight. The ground below had a kind of wrinkled flatness and was covered with a thin greenness. There were ponds and water holes here and there. This must be a cattle raising country. Then came Cheyenne with its army post barracks and the towns buildings set out squarely in unrelieved plainness. There appeared to be some small bare trees bordering the streets, probably cottonwoods. If the builders of flat roofed buildings could see their utter ugliness as viewed from above surely some feasible way could be found to make them less revolting to ones sense of something or other when seen from the air. What changes in ones ideas are made by a change of viewpoint!
I sit at breakfast with the young Irishman. He mentions that he left England only ten days ago and had flown directly from New York to Los Angeles, staying there only one day. However, he was going to stop over night at Cleveland and sleep up and then take the boat for England at New York the day after tomorrow. I ask him casually how the English people are looking upon Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Fascist movement. He half smiles and hesitates a half a bit, and answers, Mosley is perhaps a little eccentric. Some folks say that if the Conservatives had given him more attention when he was in their party he might not have started this black shirt movement. So far this is good, I think. I wonder what answer he will give to my next question. I have been reading about Duffy and his blue shirt movement in Ireland. What is going to come of that? His face lighted up. O, Duffy! He is really a very fine fellow, though I do not entirely agree with him. I had to strike him down one time in a dressing room in New York, but he is quite a good fellow after all. The loud speaker rasps and mumbles that the east-bound plane is departing from the north gate. Other passengers hurry out but I continue to eat. I had gone into the wash room upon arrival and been a little late getting into the dining room. The oatmeal and cream was good and the coffee too. The pilot looked in at the door and smiled and said, We are trying to make up a little time so made the call early, but dont hurry. But after that politeness I did leave most of my toast behind, and I do enjoy eating toast slowly. I think the sound effects are better!
A brisk north wind blowing, and we are still two hours late. Soon we get into fog or dust, or both, and the pilot comes down so he can see the Platte River and follow it. This makes rough riding. Reminds me of a small passenger boat on moderately rough water. The plane hits air bumps, or waves, or something, with a bang, and then drops into a hollow. It is interesting to know that air is a fluid, and that we are being at the same time held in suspension in this fluid and propelled through it. It appears that what we call rough or choppy air is caused in part by rapid variations in the flow of the air, but mostly by variations in the density of the fluid. These areas of air of various densities may remain fairly constant for a time, or may change slowly. But a swiftly moving plane, having a fixed wing surface, rises when it meets the denser air and drops when it meets the lighter air. If these things are not true then I did not eavesdrop efficiently upon the conversation between the co-pilot and the man occupying one of the back seats.
I have interested myself in trying to identify these Nebraska towns as we pass over them. Sometimes the pilot flies low, then high. This brownish cloud is sometimes thin, but mostly thick. Yes, that was Grand Island. And so we go. Now I think we are coming into Lincoln. There is the river, wider and muddier now, and we cross over and drive through the haze and alight at the airport. I get a glass of orange juice and Time magazine in the waiting room. The passengers stand about inside because there is a high cold wind blowing outside, and the plane is being cleaned and serviced. No name or sign, but this is Lincoln.
We go again. Same wind, same blanket of dusty fog. Presently we will be in Omaha and I will telephone to Betty Muir, as I told Wilfred I would do. I look in my memo book. Yes, her name is now Judd, and her street address is so and so. I will get her number from the phone book and jot it down so I will make no mistake in repeating it to the operator. Now we alight, but we taxi over to a shed or hangar instead of to the main building. I wonder why? The plane rolls right into a building and stops. I unbuckle my flying belt and get up to go out. The stewardess puts up a detaining hand and says, We stop here only a moment. There is not time to get out. I sit down. She is running this plane, not I. Some express packages are evidently popped out and others are popped in, and we are off again. As we rise I look down on the roof of the main building and make out three letters on the rounded roof of the building, ES M. Chagrin grips me. I ask the stewardess, Is this Des Moines? Yes, she replies. I grab the time table and look. Sure enough Lincoln is not a stop for this plane. So that was Omaha where we stopped and I thought it was Lincoln! How easily I could have telephoned had I only known! Is my face red! Wont Ethel and Dorothy shout, I told you so!, when they know. A black mark against me! Such mistakes have lost battles. Maybe I have learned something from this experience. I wonder? [Ethel: Wilmer's wife. Dorothy: their youngest daughter, 18 years old.]
We bounce into Chicago on air that is much like gargantuan cobble stones, still two hours late. But the wind is now blowing stiffly from the south and the clouds look somewhat different. More examining of the tickets and the baggage is rechecked. The connecting plane has waited, and the usual hour lay-over has absorbed half of our lateness. We buy afternoon newspapers. The prediction is Rain this afternoon. Looks like it. The air is rougher than before and the slams of the plane on the bumps are harder. Wham! That was the hardest one yet! The plane had been lifted suddenly as though it had struck a genie as big as a mountain right on his back and he had angrily humped his back right up quickly and looked around and glaringly roared, Who did that? Gasoline was splashed out of one of the wing tanks onto two of the windows, but was soon gone. Everybody sat and looked straight ahead. And the plane went on. And it was just ordinarily bumpy after that. Whos afraid of the big bad wolf? How I admire the engineers and mechanics and flyers who have given us these wonderfully sturdy air ships. They not only fly about 200 miles per hour, but they withstand these terrific strains. I remember that many men have given their lives in the development of aviation. I remember that I would not go up until I was satisfied these adventurous pioneers had substantially completed their sacrificial labors to make air travel a safe commercial proposition, which it is today.
Approaching Toledo we see Lake Erie in the distance. We are outside of the Chicago storm area and the clouds have lifted and broken, and we can see the ground. There are streams (the stewardess is friendly and tells us the names), and plowed fields, and more and more houses. But the trees look so small, and are dark and gray and bare of leaves. The Irishman folds over his Chicago paper and hands it to me with his finger pointing to a special article about Sir Oswald Mosleys British Fascists. It is interesting that we were talking about them just this morning. But I see that the article, which is the first one of a series, does not really tell much, and I see that it is published in a Hearst paper. Maybe that tells me something, for apparently Hearst would do absolutely anything to embarrass or injure England.
Who is the Irishman anyway? We are nearing Cleveland and if I am going to find out Ive got to work fast. So I hand to him the copy of Time which I bought in Omaha and asked him if he had seen it. No, he said. Well, you take it, I have finished with it. There is not much important news from England or Ireland this week. Usually there is. Im sure you will enjoy it, if you like news presented realistically and spicily. (Slight pause, while still keeping his attention) I happen to be chairman of a committee in our Rotary Club at home to which is assigned the duty of bringing before the Club discussions of subjects of international interest and concern. He looks interested and says, Ah, the Rotary. I continue, When I get home I am sure the men will be interested when I tell them of our conversation today. (While I am saying that I hand him my business card.) Now he must do something, I think. He does but not what I want him to do. He looks embarrassed a bit. (This man thinks before speaking, he does.) He replies, while holding my card in his hand, Ill write you when I get home; yes, Ill write you when I get home and tell you about Mosley. I cover my embarrassment by saying quickly, Thank you so much. I shall be delighted if you will. And the plane alights at Cleveland.
I step out. A porter calls, Washington passenger. Both the stewardess and I say, Here!! The porter said, The plane is waiting for you, sir. I look and see a plane with propeller whirling and engine popping. Step right into the station, sir, and the ticket agent will fix your ticket right up, and Ill attend to your baggage. Done in three minutes and I dog-trot out and step up into the cabin. We are off, and another hour of lateness is absorbed. We are now only ten to fifteen minutes late.
It is evident that this is an old plane. I note that the cabin is roomy and that it is made to look somewhat like a steam train coach. It creaks, but it goes. But it moves slowly compared with those Boeings on which I have ridden from Salt Lake City. Here the air is softer and smoother, and I am soothed. Not so bad after all. I look down on a different country than I have known before. Not only is the topography different, but the yellow clay which is revealed in the plowed fields and the green young wheat and the half brown pastures make a crazy quilt effect. We are flying southeasterly on a course diagonal to any north and south and east and west lines which exist down there on the ground, and there are not many. The trees are so bare. There are no section lines, and the farm boundaries vary around like a crazy quilt pattern as I said before. The fields lie at all angles and at variations of angles, if there is such a thing as a variation of an angle. Looking closer I see that the country has a gently undulating surface. One reason I see for some of the field lay-outs is that the farmers have had to plow the level and fairly level portions and leave the rest in pasture and trees. Evidently this is to prevent erosion. Most of the farm buildings are neatly painted, but for the greater part, to my eyes, they look queerly old.
The plane is losing altitude now, and that must be Akron coming up ahead of us. The time-table says we stop there. As we get nearer there is an increased number of paved roads and more automobiles. There is a cluster of brick factory buildings with a tall brick chimney coming up right in front of us. I wonder what is made there and shipped all over the United States. It should be tires, this being Akron. I see a name on the chimney in large once white letters. I concentrate my eyes and make out the letters O O D in the middle. That makes it Goodyear or Goodrich, Ill bet. There is an H at the bottom. Yes, its Goodrich. So that set of toy brick buildings is the great Goodrich factory at Akron, Ohio, U.S.A. We go on. What is that black mole-like thing out ahead there? It has a name painted on its side. Ah, so thats the Goodyear-Zeppelin hangar! How small great things look from the viewpoint of a bird flying.
We land, and are off quickly again for Pittsburgh, the smoky city. More and more creeks curving and wiggling across the land and some small rivers too. In some ways this country is more interesting than farther back. It is a little more hilly, and there are bits of swamps and pools of water. Some of the swamps appear to be on hilltops. Evidently an impervious strata of clay or stone comes right to the surface in many places here. I remember there was one on a hill on my grandfathers farm in southern Ohio when I was there forty-four years ago. Hm, hm. That tells something does it not? Does forty-four years ago mean that I am old now, or that I was very young then? Well, I was twelve then. But, does that make me old now? I guess that depends upon me. Since I might be prejudiced, others than myself will have to give the answer. Personally, I think that I am just getting enough learned so as to safely get about in the world a bit.
There is a city coming up. It is large. We are keeping well outside. There is no pall of smoke, so it must be another place. Its Pittsburgh! That being so, the river there must be the Ohio. That city on the easterly bank must be Allegheny. On the river are groups of scows loaded with coal or ore or something, and a stern-wheeler is pushing some of them around. But I am quite surprised there is not more smoke. The landing field is on top of a hill which has been leveled off, or is a leveled off top of a slag heap of hill size. Buildings of all sorts look very old and weathered and dilapidated. Lots of them abandoned and windows and doors gone. Old graveyards with discolored and mossy headstones.
Off and away. These pilots make a perfect landing and take-off every time. The sun is getting low in the west. It has been a long day and I am tired. The copilot comes out of his compartment and remarks somewhat generally, or to some one whom he knows, Well, what do you say to going up higher this time eight or nine thousand feet it will be smoother there. We have been flying at about 3500 to 4500 feet. It is clouding up a bit. He climbs a mile before I realize it, then 6000 and 6500. He holds for awhile at 7200 to 7300; then goes steadily up to 9000 and 9200 and finally 9300. He remains there until he begins to drop off to land for Washington. Yet we are about a thousand feet or so, I judge, underneath the clouds. Some of the clouds look like puff balls or dabs of beaten egg white with their bottoms flattened out like they were resting on a clear fluid. More and more twilight.
What is that irregular dark area ahead? Slowly it is revealed to be a broad strip of hills covered with bare-limbed trees. There is a broad valley beyond, and beyond that there is a broader and higher range of hills. A man across the aisle remarks, Those are the Allegheny Mountains. Dear me, how one loses perspective by getting up on the air. That seems to me true in more ways than one. Lights are beginning to twinkle. It is certainly interesting to ponder, and visualize how people are walking and riding and moving about down there, getting supper and eating and milking the cows and feeding the horses and pigs, and such things, and doing all of the other incidentals of life.
I wonder if that can be the Potomac River gracefully curving and winding down there. The man across the aisle points and says, See that thread of water paralleling the river and close to it? I nod, because he is half shouting to carry his words over the engine roar. That is the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, for which George Washington made the first survey. I look, and nod to him and look again. I do not talk because I am tired and the engines are dominating all sounds. When one flies he has nothing to do but to look out and down, and to think, and wonder and imagine. One can read if the type is plain and the air fairly smooth. So I look down and try to realize those early times primitive people, Indians, miserably poor roads, oxen for draught power, horses for passenger transportation, and so on. It took fortitude to work and go on against the almost overwhelming pressure of surrounding circumstances then. But, I wonder if it is any different now, or at any time.
It is just dark now, and there are the lights of Washington and the flashing beacons. The plane crosses the Potomac again and definitely comes down on the Virginia side. It is just 7:50 P.M. and we are exactly on time. We get out because we are here. It is strangely quiet. The reason, of course, is that it is quiet and my ear drums are dulled by about 24 hours of engine explosions. The air is soft and balmy.
A Negro boy has gotten hold of my suitcase. I have no silver so I look about for a place to get a dollar bill changed. A porter says maybe he can do it. He looks and finds he has nothing but quarters, if that will do me any good. The boy has my suitcase and is standing there. They won the move, so I say aloud, Yes, thank you. The boy indicates a door through which we walk, and ten feet away is the taxi. The Mayflower Hotel, please, I say as I get in. We cross the bridge and drive around the south and west sides of the Washington Monument. The tall shaft is floodlighted. Soon we dash up to the curb by the Mayflower Hotel. Within a few minutes I am almost asleep in a hot bath. But I arouse myself, and have eaten a good dinner by nine oclock. Boy, oh boy, Im sleepy and stiff, and how good the bed feels. Mm nite nt....
So this is Washington! Ill look it over and get acquainted with it as much as I can between time. Unfortunately Ill be here only two or three days, I think.
Belknap Henderson, Senator from Nevada 1918-1921, appointed a director
of the RFC in 1934.
Somewhere in the past I have gleaned the idea that the best way to push your business in Washington is to get into step with the tempo here. I know government men do not go to work early in the day, so I wait until ten oclock to telephone to Mr. Chas. C. Bowen, Assistant to Director Henderson of the RFC. He recalls Mr. Scroggs conversation with him about me and the Pioneers [Pioneer Title Insurance & Trust Company, San Bernardino, California] application and will see me at 11:30. I arrive early and we converse for twenty minutes until a little after 12:00. He asks his secretary to get the Pioneers application file, and asks me to return at 3:00 P.M. as he will not return from an engagement until about that time.
From 3:00 to 4:15 I am in conference with Mr. Bowen. He had obtained our original application file, and as we talked he read the essential parts of it. Mr. Bowen explained that his Chief, Senator Henderson, specialized on applications of Irrigation, Drainage and like Districts; and that some other Director would have jurisdiction over our application; he would find out which one, presently. Mr. Bowen stated that the plan of organization of the RFC contemplates that the Examining Department shall first receive and analyze the applications. Many of them do not get beyond that point for any one of a number of reasons. If an application passes the Examiner, it then goes to the Board of Review. The Board of Review may turn it back for one reason or another, but finally it makes its recommendation to the Board of Directors. Mr. Bowen explained that he was reading the papers and discussing the matter with me so fully in order that he might be the most helpful in introducing to the men who will actually function upon our application. Undoubtedly Mr. Scroggs had given him a good talk on our behalf. Also, I brought a letter of introduction from Ben Henley, with whom both Senator Henderson and Mr. Bowen are personally acquainted.
The revised application not having yet arrived from Los Angeles, arrangement was made for me to return to Mr. Bowens office between 11:00 and 12:00 tomorrow forenoon. Met Senator Henderson and chatted a few minutes as I was leaving.
|Hiram Warren Johnson, Senator from California from 1917 to 1945.|
I should have stated above that at 1:30 P.M. I had gone to Senator Johnsonoffice at the Capitol to arrange for an appointment with him tomorrow. I had supposed the Senator would have an office in the Senate office building, which is situated adjacent to and northeast of the Capitol. Government buildings are scattered over a two mile stretch. In order to conserve ones strength and to save valuable time, one must use the large fleet of fleet and cheap taxicabs. So I took a taxi to the Senate office building. The doorman said Senator Johnsons office was under the dome in the center of the main floor of the Capitol and to take the elevator down to the tunnel and go over on the electric tram car. I succeeded in finding my way to the tunnel and the electric tram scooted us over in fifty seconds flat. When you arrive you have to walk around through basement corridors and take an elevator up to the main floor. The place is a labyrinth of corridors and arches. I have time so I walked around to see if I could find the Senators office all by myself. Only one door had a sign on it, other that the usual two. This one said, To the Dome. Just to be doing something I opened it and looked in. There was a stairway up and one down and one off and around sideways, leading to the janitors headquarters I supposed. I backed up and decided I would have to ask somebody. On the way I looked through a screen door upon a two or three room law library. There were a number of coat hooks on the wall with names printed beneath them. In the dim light I read, Justice Brandeis, Justice Sutherland, Justice Roberts and others. The hooks were unoccupied. So I jumped to the conclusion that this was the old Supreme Court Library. I recall that the Supreme Court is to have a separate new building , but I do not know whether it is yet completed.
Yes, sir, the floor mopper will show me Senator Johnsons office. We go back to the door marked, To the Dome, and my guide goes confidently down and around that side stairway, up another short one and to the right, and, Theres Senator Johnsons office, sir! I suspect he makes many a dime that way, and he earns it. Of course, the Senators name is on the door, but one cannot find the door alone without a better than average pirates map to indicate where the treasure lies buried.
The lady secretary says the Senator is on the floor of the Senate and she does not know when he will return. She reads my letters from Frank Doherty and R. C. Harbison, and we chat a moment and she promises to telephone me at the hotel at what time the Senator will see me.
When I returned to the hotel from the RFC offices at 4:30 P.M., I found a message from the Senators secretary that he will see me at 10:00 oclock tomorrow forenoon.
So I lay down on the bed and think. Here is one day gone and no tangible accomplishment. But I see it is too big a proposition to be rushed up to and taken by storm. If it is a game I have to play it according to the rules. What are the rules? I am beginning to see better. Well, I am here, and I am here for a definite purpose and Ill stick to the end! But I dont know just where the end is.
|Arthur Capper, Senator from Kansas from 1919 to 1949.|
A warm bath, fresh shave, clean clothes and the dark suit and dinner in the grill. The Presidential Dining Room is too ornate and formal for me. The last of the cocktail hour devotees are leaving and the early diners, like myself, are arriving. After I sit down at my table an elderly man goes out of the room. As he passes me, I recognize him as Senator Capper of Kansas. I have not seen him for over forty years. But I admit I saw his picture in Time a few months ago. When he first established his Kansas Mail and Breeze in Topeka in the early 90s I was a newsboy and I remember being in the Mail and Breeze office. Honestly, however, I cannot recall that I actually sold any of his papers. I think I tried to sell some. I was regularly selling the Topeka Capital in the morning and Topeka State Journal in the evening.
I thought it would be interesting if I could get to talk with Senator Capper. He has been here for a long time. I have in my mind a very clear picture of him as a young man: high forehead, clear eyes and energetic movements. He moves slowly now, and is a little stooped and quite thin. He was thin forty years ago too. As a boy I admired him. So I inquired of the telephone operator whether Senator Capper lived in the hotel. Yes, was the reply. So I wrote a brief note to him that I was one of his old Mail and Breeze newsboys, had recognized him in the Grill and would appreciate an opportunity to chat with him a moment. Next morning I found a note from him in my box saying he would be glad to see me at his office during the day or in his room, 755, in the evening between seven and eight.
Well, its been raining lightly all this afternoon and evening, so I go to my room and jot down notes for these paragraphs, and go to bed early. But it is difficult to let down and it is quite awhile before my train leaves for the land of Nod.
Brite and fare may not quite express it, but the rain has gone and in its place a brisk, crisp north wind is blowing. My heavy suit, which I found so difficult to wear when leaving California, and my overcoat, quite fill the bill now.
At nine oclock I start to walk from the hotel to the Washington Loan and Trust Company, located at 9th and F Streets N.W. N.W. means Northwest. The Capitol is the center from which avenues radiate like hands of the clock at different hours of the day. Perhaps it is better stated that the District of Columbia is divided into four sections: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. The sections are separated by North, South, and East Capitol Streets, and by a line running due west from the Capitol. Most of the people live in and most of the business is done in the Northwest section. I suppose it is a mile and a half down to the W.L.&T. Companys place.
Met Mr. Baden, the Trust Officer. He is a grayish, bald, gentleman and wears spats. He is very dignified, but can be quite impatient too. This building is old, and I have no doubt the institution (with emphasis on the tu) is very conservative. But Mr. Baden obviously is glad to see me and wants to talk about the Meyer, Jonas and Kaiser properties at Verdemont. He said the interest on the three items of indebtedness is variously delinquent, and he understands the taxes are also delinquent, in varying amounts. I told him of my impressions of Mr. Kaiser and Mr. Jonas personally, that is, that they are hard-working, resourceful men, but are without funds at this time. I told him that neither would put in their own money, if they had any, but would and were acting as agents of syndicates. But , in my opinion, I told him, if any men can work them out of the place the Trust Company is in, (that is, the members of the Clapp family), Kaiser and Jonas will do it. Pressed further for my opinion, I told him that if we held those mortgages, I was sure our policy would be that as long as the parties paid the taxes, which are not inconsiderable, and kept working and trying, we would wait for the interest and principal, that is, for the time being. Mr. Baden wished me to meet Mr. Clapp later in the forenoon, but I had to leave to keep my appointment with Senator Johnson at ten oclock. I promised to see him again.
At 10:15 the secretary said, Will you please come in now. The Senator greeted me most cordially. Upon my being seated, he asked what he could do for me. I replied, Nothing, Senator, except an opportunity to chat with you for a few minutes. He said that he enjoyed doing what he could for people from California. I thanked him for his letter to Frank Doherty giving information about our Companys application to the RFC, and had come on to Washington about it; that the information we had gotten through him had enabled us to approach the matter in a better way. I did not tell him that it was a part of my plan to come back to him for some real help if I concluded he could give it to me.
I said to the Senator that I had hoped he would be willing to talk with me about things generally in order that I might have a clearer view about our countrys problems, both domestic and those of international character. I told him my friends were an honest and earnest group of men who wanted to do what was right, but we are all puzzled and cannot understand all that is going on here in Washington. He laughed and said, You are no worse off than anyone else. He said he is a great admirer of the President and believes in him; that the President had offered to appoint him the Secretary of the Interior, but he had told the President he was not Cabinet material because he could not take orders. Mr. Roosevelt laughed outright and heartily when he told him that, he said. The Senator said he was of an adventurous disposition and, therefore, he did not fear experimenting; that it is necessary to progress. However, he did think some of the folks here in Washington hardly knew themselves what they were doing. The Senator believes Mr. Roosevelt is just the man for the place and the time; that we shall soon see what will work and what will not.
I remarked that I hoped when he returned to California in connection with his candidacy he would go just as far as he possibly could in taking the public into his confidence about the state of affairs and his views about the future course which should be followed. He replied that he hoped by that time he could speak freely about some things.
He said that he was able to support the administration upon many points, but he would find it necessary to differ from them in regard to the current tariff proposals; that he had worked for years to get and keep a tariff on lemons and oranges and walnuts and other products in which California was especially interested. He was not willing, he said, to leave Californias interests to the decision and control of one man, who might come under pressure from sources opposed to Californias special products. He said Hull and Wallace were free traders and internationalists, and he simply could not go with them.
At this point the Senator said he had to go now to a meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee and would I walk along with him while we talked. I told him I had a little message for him from Mr. Harbison. He asked laughingly, What is it? I told him Mr. Harbison had asked me to say to him that he hoped he would continue to register as a Republican. The Senator remarked that for years past he has called himself a Progressive Republican or a Republican Progressive, so it is very easy to simply call himself a Progressive; that his message and appeal is to all of the people, not merely to a particular party; that in the nature of things this would be his last political battle, and he could not be expected to entrust his political fortunes to his political enemies who are in control of the Republican Party in California, with whom he had to break in 1932. Our conversation had been finished while standing by the door of the Foreign Relations Committee room. I like the Senator in the role in which I have seen him this morning better than as a fighter, as I have seen him before.
There is still time to see Representatives Marvin Jones and Ewing Thompson of Texas, friends of Forest Page, to whom Forest has given me letters of introduction. I go over to the House office building, which is located across a street and southeast of the Capitol. It is not a duplicate of the Senate office building, except in quality. Compared with the Senate office building it seems newer, the ceilings not so high and the rooms smaller. It is more like a very high class office building and less a palace than the Senate building.
While waiting my turn to see Mr. Jones I overheard a newspaper correspondent reading, rather dictating, over the telephone, evidently to his paper, a story of the action of the Committee in regard to the stock exchange regulation bill.
Both Mr. Jones and Mr. Thompson appear to be delightful men. Both asked me to remember them to Forest and Myrtle. They were all young folks together in Gainesville, Texas. Mr. Jones is, I believe, chairman of the committee which originated the Home Owners Loan Corporation bill. I told him of our observations of the working-out in California.
With Mr. Bowen at the RFC office from 11:40 to 12:10. I learn our application (revised) has not yet been received from Los Angeles. However, it is arranged that I come back at 2:30, when Mr. Bowen will introduce me to Director Merriam and to Mr. Hay, his assistant, under whose jurisdiction he thinks our case will come. Mr. Bowen carefully explained he could not tell them what to do, but said that when people come as we are not asking favors and help for an unsound proposition, but asking for assistance for a sound proposition that really is not in a bad way, we should, in his view, be given all they had to give. Therefore, he was going to help me on the side all he could.
At one oclock I telephoned to Mr. Baden I could not see him this afternoon as I had expected. Mr. Clapp had been in, he said, but could not remain long, because he was not well, but he wanted to meet me and get all the information he could about the Meyer land.
I find I feel better dressed here if I wear a white shirt with a starched collar, so I went out this noon and bought one for a change, and some new collars. I have sent a telegram to Mr. Scroggs at Los Angeles that our revised application is not here yet.
Arrived at Mr. Bowens office at 2:15 and he arrived at 2:40. From 3:10 to about 3:40 we talk with Mr. Hays, assistant to Mr. Merriam, the Director who has jurisdiction over application of life, fire and casualty insurance companies. Mr. Hays got our story clearly in his mind and asked numerous questions. He said it was obvious that our company is solvent, and that to secure approval it would have to be shown that public interest and real need were present. I assured him I recognized that was true and could, I believed, make that showing; that we had merely seen the coming events in advance of their happening, before they had seen us. Evidence of this fact, I said, was that we had begun to prepare our original application last October, while the State Insurance Department did not make demand upon us for deposit of additional securities until March. I told of the approaching examination of the Title Insurance Department, and of our very strong desire not to be put in the position of a supplicant before the State Insurance Department for the favor of a license renewal in the face of a depreciated deposit of the Guarantee Fund. I told him we could, of course, resist our bank and individual creditors by playing a game of delay with them, if necessary, but we wanted to put our whole house in order at one time. I made it clear that if we could secure approval of only enough to rehabilitate our state deposits we would gladly accept that. I stated that our current increase in business had given us cash with which to pay many tax bills for our borrowers who could not pay them themselves, thus benefiting the borrower, and the county, and cities, and schools.
Mr. Hays remarked that our peculiar type of corporation might cause our application to be referred to someone else, so in the meantime until the papers arrived, we would better talk with Mr. Rochelle of the Examining Department and Mr. Mandeville of the Board of Review. Later he would introduce me to Mr. Merriam, his chief. As we walked down the hallway Mr. Bowen said that Mr. Hays had been much nicer than is reported to be his custom. His reputation is that he speaks few words and bites them off short. My impression was that he was a clean, clear-headed and competent man.
Mr. Rochelle then queried whether we might not do better to make our application from the viewpoint of a bank, because we are, as to our Trust Department, under the supervision of the State Banking Department. This idea was advanced with the thought of working along the line of least resistance. I responded that the idea should be carefully considered by us, but after all, both departments of our corporation were bound indissolubly together; that if one department should be taken with a fatal ailment the whole corporation would fail, unless a major operation of severance should be duly and legally authorized by both the stockholders and the two State Departments concerned; that I did not wish to take up that viewpoint just at this time. We then discussed quite in detail the dual nature of our corporation, and reached the conclusion that the same principle is involved as is in a combined commercial and savings bank. In the case of a combined commercial and savings bank the deposits and investments of each department are held and accounted for separately, and the assets of each department are the sole backing of the deposits of that department, plus the capital and surplus funds allocated to such department. Nevertheless the capital stock represents ownership of the whole without allocation of the ownership by departments.
Mr. Rochelles colloquial speech revealed to me that he is from the South, but I waited for him to indicate to me from what part. Presently he mentioned having been in the insurance business in Dallas. We chatted about the improper policy of lending institutions trying to corral the fire and other kinds of insurance business from their borrowers, to the detriment of the local agent. I explained that our Company had followed a policy of cooperation with local insurance agents, but we did try not to accept the policies of weak companies.
I told him of my call upon Marvin E. Jones and Ewing Thompson, Members of Congress from Texas. He knows them both well. We also discussed Jim and Ma Ferguson, and election methods in Texas.[ The Fergusons were two of Texas' most colorful Governors.] He learned I had lived in Texas. [Wilmer and Ethel lived in Galveston, Texas, from 1904 to 1908.]
If the whole of the RFC is managed by men of the kind I have met so far, I do not see how it can be other than well managed.
At 5:05 PM I left Mr. Rochelles office and came to the hotel, where I found a telegram from Mr. Scroggs saying that our revised application had been air-mailed last Monday. So, it should be here tomorrow, Thursday, since it did not come in today. Nevertheless, we have not suffered any loss by this delay, I am sure. I now see that these two days had to be gone through anyway in order to find my way around and to develop my approach to fit the conditions and the men as they exist here. But Mr. Bowens help has been great.
6:30 PM. Oysters on the half shell, genuine Chesapeake Bay kind, and good. All dressed up and no place to go. Movies are the bunk. No radio. No concerts. Will walk and window-shop. While looking at a display of books and pictures, a woman walks up and directs to me the remark, Looking at the pictures? I look about and say, Yes, but do not recognize her. When she says, Come on up to my apartment and well have a party, then I do recognize her. So I respond, You will have to excuse me, and she turns and goes on. Since I look so much like a hay-seed, I go directly back to the hotel and turn in so I may not be taken in.
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