The Log of “Jason” Glasscock
of His Voyage of Search
for the Golden Fleece
part 7

by Wilmer Newton Glasscock

Jan 1878 - May 1966

 

FRIDAY, May 4, 1934

  At ten o’clock last night when I went down into the lobby to mail a letter home, I found in my box the anxiously expected papers from the office. Looked them over and found them all O.K. Also there had arrived the certified copies of the licenses from the State Insurance and Banking Departments, so I went to bed knowing I should be freed from my fetters tomorrow morning.

  This morning I am among the earliest in the Grill for breakfast. I find myself unable to read the morning’s newspaper satisfactorily because of desire to get going, so at twenty minutes to nine I am on my way to the RFC offices. I made it in the shortest time yet, but it was 9:15 before Mr. Rochelle came in. While I was waiting, I saw he had kept our application file on his desk. I handed him the new papers and offered to remain while he examined them, or to be available at the Mayflower to respond to his call. He replied that he would have to give the documents a careful reading and analysis and perhaps take up some questions with the legal department, and I would better not wait, but to come back any time I wanted to.

  I went up stairs to talk confidentially with Mr. Bowen upon the question of the helpfulness or otherwise to our cause if either Senator Johnson or Senator McAdoo should speak a word for us. Mr. Bowen said that was a question very difficult to answer; that no application can be helped if it is unsound or not properly within the sphere of the RFC. Again, a sound proposition is not helped by attempted influence from an obstreperous senator, like Britten, for instance. He said the RFC people resented attempts to influence their decisions. “Nevertheless, there is,’ he stated, “something natural and humanly helpful to a good proposition if a man comes well introduced. For example, I am trying to be helpful to you, because Mr. Scroggs spoke well of you, and I found upon meeting Mr. Scroggs that I liked him. Then, you are introduced to me by a mutual friend, Ben Henley.’ “Also,’ he said further, “you come here and lay your cards on the table, explain your proposition and talk reasonably and are not complaining that you did not get fair treatment anywhere.’ I tell him that it would go against the grain for me to deal with any matter except upon its merits, but I repeat our view that our application deserves approval upon principle, even though there may not be the degree of public interest that there is in the case of a life insurance company. “Yes, it’s a matter of degree,’ Mr. Bowen stated. So I have come back to the hotel to make these notes and to plan further. I shall go back to look in on Mr. Rochelle immediately after lunch.

  At 2:30 PM I am back in Mr. Rochelle’s office. He is working on our papers. Yes, there is something I might explain. He inquires about the item “Capital surplus and undivided profits.’ I state that is really all undivided profits, but it was an idea of mine to carry a separate ledger account for that part of the undivided profits which are invested in Fixed Assets. That is all right. He mentions parenthetically that their examination reduced the Undivided Profits to about $35,000.00 and set up a reserve of the difference -- about $234,000.00 -- against possible shrinkage. He also inquired whether the State Insurance Department had approved the write-up of the value of our title plants in 1933. I told him that no specific approval had been given, but we had been making quarterly reports as well as the 1933 annual report, and no question had been raised. Anyway, I pointed out, no specific approval by the Insurance Department is required, and any excess over the statutory amount allowed is deducted as an asset not admitted, and the Department would merely see that this deduction is properly made. I said, further, the reason for the write-up was that we knew the value of the plants was far in excess of the figure at which we had been carrying them, and we felt entitled to write them up fairly. He remarked, with a point of his pencil, that he noted we did it when our undivided profits had dropped pretty low, but that was all right. I said nothing. Then he said there was lacking a specific approval and consent from the two State Departments to our selling preferred stock, particularly the Insurance Department, and referred to the conditional paragraph in the Insurance Commissioner’s letter. I told him I had talked with men in both Departments, and I knew they both would consent and approve to his entire satisfaction. He replied, “Then we will go on relying upon the presumption that will be furnished.’ He asked me to come back tomorrow morning and he would see what else he needed to talk with me about.

  I read and write, and ponder my situation.

 

SATURDAY, May 5, 1934

    The name was changed from Pioneer Abstract and Title Guaranty Co. to Pioneer Title Insurance and Trust Co.

  At 9:30 this morning the five copies of annual statements were here, as were the copies of court decree changing name of corporation. I went at once to the RFC office, and within a very few minutes got to see Mr. Rochelle. He looked the Insurance Department reports over rather carefully, and noted that these forms did not provide for a deduction of assets not admitted as he had expected to find. He inquired whether the Department permitted us to carry claims against closed banks in full, and remarked that such doubtful items are usually charged off. I replied that we had had no advice or instructions upon that point from the Insurance Department; perhaps they would take cognizance of the matter when examining the 1933 report, or at least when they make their now contemplated early examination. Anyway, I said he would find we had suggested a possible write-down in our explanations accompanying the original applications, but had not yet done it. This is a point they could include in their consideration of our revised application.

  Mr. Rochelle remarked that he guessed he had failed to ask me to get a comparative balance sheet for the past five years (as of December 31), but since it was not here he would try to make one up from the figures available. Since I am to go back between 12:00 and 1:00 at noon to see if there are any questions I can answer, this may be brought up again, for I feel sure the trust department balance sheet figures are not there.

  Mr. Rochelle inquired, in case the preferred stock feature should not appeal to the Board, if there were enough assets available to be used as collateral for a loan; he understood that the main point which we were trying to protect was our deposits of securities with the State Treasurer. I replied that I did not consider that the securities and loans which we had in the title department as of a quality sufficiently good to use with them as collateral for a loan, and instanced a few items. As to the Trust Department, the information I had tended to show that our Banking Department did not wish to approve trust companies pledging their assets for loans. Rochelle suggested they might in case of necessity.

    “Mr. Mack” -- J. L. Mack, who with his wife had purchased the Pioneer and built the business.

  He stated that if he could stay with this job all this morning and get his report written up to-day (they close at 1:00 PM), he thought it could get before the Board on Tuesday next. Hence my wire to Mr. Mack.

  I slept poorly last night and am “low’ this morning. It has turned quite warm and I am perspiring. It is twenty minutes to 11:00 now, so I’ll rest until noon and then go over to the RFC offices again.

  A few minutes ago when I was writing the telegram to Mr. Mack at the counter downstairs, a gentleman stepped up to the “house’ phone, called a room number, then said, “This is Mr. Shoup.’ I glanced out of the corner of my eye, and, sure enough, it was Paul Shoup.

  Realizing that Mr. Rochelle did not have the Trust Department balance sheets for five years, separated from the total, I telephoned to his office. He was out for quite awhile, but after three calls I got him. If more data was necessary to be had from the office I should know it quickly. He said, however, that since the Insurance Department is the principal one, and our trouble, to the extent that we have it, is primarily there, he would get along with what he had, and it would not be necessary for me to come down.

  About one o’clock I went down town and had lunch, then went over to the Washington Monument. They take thirty people up on the elevator every five minutes. This is in addition to the boys who make a feat out of walking up and down. As we ride in the elevator we can hear them shouting on the stairs, although I saw a sign posted that they should not do so.

  On the ground the air is warm plus. A cold blast of air issues from the door at the base of the shaft. When we get to the top and look out of the little window we discover a cool breeze blowing. Apparently the top of the monument pierces a strata of cooler air up there, and the windows being open, the inside of the shaft seems to act like a siphon or drain. But about the view. It is there, all right, but there are so many school children and several young couples who are so unconsciously delighted with having their heads so close together looking out of the small windows, that I merely look over shoulders at most of the eight windows. I have noticed that the lower part of the monument is built of lighter colored stone than the remainder. I had guessed they had gotten that far with a cleaning job and stopped. Last Sunday on the trip down to Mount Vernon I asked our driver about it, and he explained that the monument had been begun with contributions of school children, and the money ran out and the organization failed to build it above 150 feet from the ground. It stood that way, unfinished, for several years. Then Congress got around to it and took the job over. By then the stone in the quarry from which the first stone had been obtained had become exhausted, and the darker stone above was the best that could be done.

  I go over to the new National Museum, which is under the control of the Smithsonian Institution. Here I find all of the things I have read about, including the dinosaur’s tracks in a slab of sandstone and the tracks of other ancient crawling things on solidified beach sand. Even the ripples in the sand caused by washing waves are here. Prehistoric this and ancient that without end. It gives one some little sense of the immensity of Time and of the brevity of our individual lives.

  The anthropology section (I should say sections) are both extensive and bewildering. The place is so large and the number of things to see so great, I see people all around who are already tired. There seems to be quite a strain on one about this looking business. There are models, life-size, of primitive peoples all the way from Alaska on the north to New Zealand on the south, and from Atlantic Coast Indians to the Iggorotes of the Philippines and Dyaks of Borneo. There are stuffed birds and animals by thousands, and minerals and ores and exhibits of “applied” geology. But I was perhaps more interested in the wonderful exhibit of porcelains and the private art collections which rich people have bequeathed to the Government for the Museum when they were through with this life. These pictures are refined. There is not a gross one in the lot. I may not like each and every one, but each and every one is pleasing in some way, and most of them are masterpieces. It seems that men do most of the work in oil, and nature and women and children being the most beautiful things in the world, -- well, that’s why, I suppose. There are, however, some pictures of fine looking men. Others seem to have “got their pictures painted” and realized how important they were when it was being done. The words “bewildering,” “stupendous,” “sublime,” “exquisite,” “wonderful,” come to mind when trying to express the effect upon one of looking at this collection, but I stop trying. One has to see for himself. I do not understand why there is not a wheel chair service. As it is, one’s interest and enthusiasm turns to lead in his lagging feet.

  To the hotel for rest. This week has gotten on my nerves, I realize. I must rest carefully the remainder of today and tomorrow and be ready for the finish on Monday and Tuesday.

SATURDAY NIGHT, May 5, 1934

    Paul Shoup in 1934 was Vice Chariman of the Board of Southern Pacific Railroad. Time magazine featured Paul's picture on its August 12,1929 cover. His eldest son, economist Carl Shoup (1903-2000), oversaw the creation of a modern tax system for Japan after World War II.

  Have just had a long talk with Paul Shoup -- for over an hour. I wish I could jot down here mention of all the things we talked about, but memory is too frail. As I left my room to go down to get some dinner, about 8:00 o’clock, I thought it would be nice to be able to tell Byron Waters that I had seen Mr. Shoup, and he had asked me to say to him -- so and so. I got out one of my business cards and pencilled a note on it and turned to ask a bell boy to take it to his room, when I saw him over in a corner reading a newspaper. So I walked right over and said, "Mr. Shoup, I have just written a note to you, but seeing you here, I will deliver it myself!" He smiled and read it and invited me to sit down. He started by asking about Mr. Waters, then many others, including Charley Hanf, A. M. Ham, John Batchelor, Charley and Monte Allison, Will Guthrie, Walter Byrne, H. C. Harbison, Judge Curtis, Sherman Batchelor, Clara Kellar. He spoke of others who have died. He told of camping trips which he and Johnny Batchelor used to take up in Devil Canyon and other places, loading up Johnny’s horse Nellie and taking along the dog Spotted Belly.

  He was very free to talk, and told me of talking with the President this week and of the President’s openly expressed wish that Congress would hurry and go home. He told of being at the high table at the annual banquet of the United States Chamber of Commerce the other night (he is a Vice President), and sitting beside Speaker Rainey of the House of Representatives. An amusing thing happened, he said, in that when Rainey was introduced there was a spatter of polite hand-clapping; but when Representative Snell was introduced as the leader of the minority party there was rousing applause. Mr. Harriman, the President, remarked smilingly, "Did I say ‘Leader of the minority party’?" Also when Mr. Weir, President of the National Steel Company, was introduced, the crowd rose and yelled. Mr. Rainey is, of course, too good a politician, he said, to be disturbed by the greater applause which Snell received, for all knew that the sentiments of that crowd had no political significance -- that is, they do not control many more votes than their own. Also the shouting for Mr. Weir would have to be interpreted as a business man endorsement of Weir in his fight of defense in his trouble with the NRA.

    Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) was well-known for his creative philosophy and pragmatic open-mindedness. He held over 200 patents for his own inventions, including the electric starter for the automobile.

  Mr. Shoup told of hearing an address by Mr. Kettering, head of the General Motors Research Division, and of talking with him. He told me a good deal about Kettering personally. In his address Kettering’s theme seemed to be that we do not know anything, but we are trying to find out. The illustrations from the address which Mr. Shoup mentioned, I have already forgotten, but I have not forgotten the statement credited to Kettering that planning is all right if you realize that no plan is good for more than 48 hours; that life is a process of finding out things; that when you tie down and restrict and hobble the results can hardly be good; that we need volume and variety of production; that our economic life and organization are entirely too big and complex to be managed from Washington.

  Mr. Shoup said, however, all of us want the NRA to succeed, for selfish reasons as well as for patriotic reasons. But in his view much of the so-called New Deal will have to be modified to fit facts, and much abandoned; that it has gone too far, notwithstanding we all know there is much needing fixing. He believes we have every factor present for genuine prosperity and good, but it may take some time to attain it, and we may have to suffer some more before we arrive.

  Mr. Shoup mentioned a conversation with one of the Directors of the RFC, in which the Director asked what Shoup knew about Morgan Adams of the Mortgage Guarantee in Los Angeles; that the last he had seen of him he was drinking too much; that they had loaned them over a million dollars, and now he was back for more and they would have to decide whether to let him have it. Shoup had not been able to tell the Director anything in particular, and asked me what I thought. I considered a few seconds and replied, "Of course, I know who he is, and something of what he is. Some of the people who do business with him tell me he is cold and heartless and would take pennies off his dead mother’s eyes. I have two men in mind who have told me this in substance, but such a statement is doubtless a bit too extreme." Mr. Shoup replied that a cold, hard man is not likely to be a good man to do business with.

  I remarked that I was here doing some business with the RFC, and told him briefly what it is. He said if he could do anything to help me he would be glad to do so, and he would be here until Monday. He knows Jesse Jones, and Directors Henderson and Couch and one other whose name I did not catch. He said he believed from what I told him I did not need help, for, he thought, the men lower down really framed the conclusions for the Directors to quite an extent. He doubted whether either Senators McAdoo or Johnson could be of any actual help. He exchanged a few sentences as to what he might possibly say on my behalf, but I cannot be sure he will have an opportunity, or will think of it. If I see him tomorrow I shall be strongly tempted to ask him that if he sees Jesse Jones before he goes, will he tell him he has met me here, knows the community from which I come, and is interested in it, and hopes for San Bernardino’s sake he will look into the matter himself. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the psychology of the "approach" business. There is a lot to it.

    Herbert Hoover, former President of the United States.

  Mr. Shoup told me of living as a neighbor to Mr. Hoover and liking him very much; and about camping out and fishing in the High Sierras; and his wife; and his son, who is a professor in Columbia University now; and so on. To talk for over an hour with the Vice Chairman of the Board of the Southern Pacific Railroad in this friendly way is a choice privilege. I wonder when our paths will cross again.


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May 2-3, 1934
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May 6, 1934

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