Jan 1878 - May 1966
This afternoon I am to get my answer from the RFC. So, I plan to leave Washington, not after two or three days presence here, as I ignorantly expected when I left California, but after nearly three weeks time here. I should call at Senator McAdoos office to see if he is back from his sickness yet, for Mr. Brown could not forgive me if I failed to see the Senator from any neglect of mine. Then I would like to have a last word with Senator Johnson, if he is not too busy. The Senators offices are not opened until ten oclock, so I have time to read the New York Times carefully. I do enjoy reading the Times. It is neither high-hat nor jazzy, but has dignity. To say that it is decidedly not like a Hearst paper is to recommend it. The news stories evidence a sincere effort to tell the truth, and they use enough space to complete the stories. I appreciate seeing that if the problem is complex, the writers take time to explain, and qualify statements, and perhaps to interpret some. The reader is not fed hot peppers and horseradish in the guise of food.
At ten minutes before ten I am in the hall at Senator McAdoos office, but it is twenty ;minutes later that the door is unlocked from the inside. In the meantime I walk slowly up and down the hall. I pause to gaze into a committee room, through the open door. There is a large map on one wall with black lines which are obviously air lines. This must be the room wherein the air-mail inquiry was conducted. A clerk comes out and remarks that I may go in if I want to, as the meeting is going to be public; that Administrator Hopkins will soon be here and start the hearing in regard to the ten billion dollar relief bill. But I cannot divert my thought, so I stand in front of the Senators door again. A man strolls up, also waiting to get in, and says he is from North Carolina. He is in the furniture veneer business; that business is bad, and that the NRA is ruining their business and that of all of the honest companies in their line. The reason is, he says, that although they are given a minimum selling price, the dishonest men in the business are going about giving rebates and favors, but their invoices do not show it. He has talked with the NRA people here and gets no satisfaction. He tells me they say they will do something about it, but do nothing. His remarks take on a weakness to me, however, as he told me that when they asked him for evidence of his statements he told them he was in enough trouble now and did not want to make any more enemies, and they would have to find it out themselves. But, maybe he did not tell me the whole story. One does not know when talking with strangers.
Mr. Roth said the Senator was still sick, but he still hoped he would be back soon. I told Mr. Roth that since I had seen him two weeks ago I had been working with the RFC. I mentioned that he would recall Mr. Brown had asked that I be introduced to Mr. Jesse Jones, but I had suggested to him then that I thought it best to wait for awhile, and that I would come back if I found I could use their help. I told him that I had found at the RFC offices a clear intimation against my attempting to utilize pressure from Capitol Hill, and that even to have an introduction from there might be a handicap, and that they had told me I really did not need it anyway. Consequently, I was back now to say au revoir. I told Mr. Roth that there was a rather strong probability that our application would be disapproved because such a corporation as ours is not clearly within the category of insurance and trust companies which it has been their policy to help, although we clearly come within the words of the law. However, as in the case of most Federal legislation, much is left to the administrative officers in the way of formulating policies and establishing practices. I said that if the decision is adverse I may want to make a statement of the facts to Senator McAdoo, not as a complaint, but for his information should at a later date questions be raised as to wise and proper extension of the scope of the operations of the RFC.
Then I went over to Senator Johnsons office. The number of the people in his anteroom, as well as my general knowledge of the Senators responsibilities, just now particularly, caused me to tell his secretary the same story that I told to Mr. Roth. She urged me to come back tomorrow morning, since I cannot leave until tomorrow afternoon, and to write out any statement I wanted to make and leave it with them because they could not remember everything that is said to them.
It was now nearly eleven oclock, so I decided to walk across to the Library of Congress. In front of the Library, at the sidewalk level, is a fountain. There are three figures, the center one being a great bronze sea horse, the front part representing a snorting stallion, with arched neck and bounding mane (to say flowing mane is too mild; I mean with bounding mane). The lower or rear part of the figure is fish. The two outside figures are the same, except some smaller, with this difference, that each is mounted by a beautiful, joyous maiden, who is having the time of her life riding this horse! They had left their clothes at home, and there they were as big as life of bigger. I forgot something. On each side of the central horse figure is a horned man-like figure, each blowing water from his puffed cheeks through a conch shell, one over his right shoulder and the other over his left, to create balance. Then the splashing water made the whole a very active looking affair. It is interesting to see what some men can do in seeming to make alive mundane materials like stone and bronze.
The entrance hall is magnificent! Delicately carved and tinted marble! Dignified marble stair-cases! Mosaics on floors and ceilings! Murals, murals, and more murals! Color and light in soft balance and quiet! One moves about slowly, first letting the deep impressions be made on ones consciousness, then trying to register specific impressions. I have time to see only a part, so I must not wander too far. Any way I see that most of the building is not open to the public. Here are original manuscripts from China, India, and Persia, from Middle Age Europe. Here are original letters and documents concerning our country, commencing with pre-Revolutionary times, down to almost now. Here is the original note from General George Washington to Major (I think) Conway, whereby he tells in a few brief lines he has discovered through a letter from General Gates the Majors disloyalty to him. It was this letter which broke up the famous Conway cabal. Then there was the original letter from Benjamin Franklin to a member of Parliament whom he had known as a friend, in which he scathingly tells him because he has joined with the majority of Parliament in destroying his country, they are now enemies. Heres a diary of Franklins. Lets see, what does it say? I copy it, and here it is, as written when he was twenty-one years of age:
Inasmuch as by Reason of our Ignorance we cannot be Certain that many Things which we often hear mentioned in the Petitions of Men to the Deity would prove real Goods if they were in our Possession, and as I have Reason to hope and believe that the Goodness of my Heavenly Father will not withhold from me a suitable Share of Temporal Blessings, if by a Virtuous and Holy Life I merit his Favour and Kindness.
Therefore I presume not to ask such Things, but rather Humbly, and with a sincere Heart, express my earnest Desires that he would graciously assist my Continual Endeavors and Resolutions of eschewing Vice and embracing Virtue; which kind of Supplications will at least be thus far beneficial, as they remind me in a solemn manner of my extensive DUTY.
That I may be preserved from Atheism & Infidelity, Impiety and Profaneness, and in my Addresses to Thee carefully avoid Irreverence and Ostentation, Formality and Odious Hypocrisy, Help me, O Father.
I muse, "Things which we often pray for might not be Good if we should get them." H’m.
Here, in special glass-fronted bronze cases are the original Declaration of Independence and the original copy of the Constitution. The original writing has dimmed, and seems dimmer by reason of the sheets of amber colored transparent material laid over, evidently to minimize the effect of light.
Across in another place, in a guarded glass case, is one of the three sets of copies of the Gutenberg Bible in existence.
I see etchings by modern artists, and pen and wash drawings by artists of the 90s and some colored lithographs of the 50s [1890s and 1850s].
Here are some illuminated Persian poems. I wonder what poets wrote about in those olden days. Some of them have evidently been inspired by the emotions of love-sick young men. Others are more restrained and extol the beauty and virtues of some lady fair who is unnamed. But what do you think of this one?
The secret of the distance between desire and goal Is none but the road of patience. With patience, sea is formed from the rain drops. It turns into cloud and pours in Sirab. Be like a rosebud which dwells in patience. It is in the rose garden of patience where roses bloom. Signed. SULTAN BAYZID May his sins be forgiven Done by Meer Ali.
Hm. Desire -- Goal -- Patience. Hm. I muse again.
It is noon now and I must go, so I take a last look around. Up near where the lines of the ceilings begin are some quotations, from whom is not stated. Here are three.
|Nature is the Art of God|
|The History of the World is the Biography of Great Men|
|They are never alone that are Accompanied with Noble Thoughts|
With a last look around, I walk out.
It is three oclock now, and this being the tomorrow afternoon of yesterday, I am off to the RFC offices to hear the verdict.
I walked rapidly over to the RFC in the face of a freshening southwest wind and increasing cloudiness. When I got on the tenth floor and looked out over the Virginia hills, I saw it coming. First wind and threshing of trees, then thick dust, then the splashing rain. I came back in a taxi through a downpour. I have just telephoned for my seat reservation to Los Angeles. The ticket man says he will telephone to me as soon as he can get confirmation of the reservation west of Chicago. Will I be glad to get home!
But there is no verdict until tomorrow. Our application did not go to the Board today, but will go tomorrow morning.
Last night while I was eating dinner in the Grill Judge and Mrs. Curtis came in with two fine looking men. The face of one seemed familiar to me. When Judge Curtis introduced us, he turned out to be Merritt Curtis. I think he is a Captain in the Marine Corps. The other, a younger man, was Lieutenant Rosencranz. Judge Curtis asked me how I was getting along with my business. I replied that the jury is out and the verdict will be brought in tomorrow. In the meantime, I had visited the Library of Congress and what should I find but Benjamin Franklins diary, in which he had written something which I would read to them as being perhaps apropos of my situation.
|Inasmuch as by Reason of our Ignorance we cannot be Certain that many Things which we often hear mentioned in the Petitions of Men to the Deity would prove real Goods if they were in our Possession, etc.|
And if that were not enough, I ran across this from the exhibit of illuminated Persian manuscripts, -- then I read the blank verse, which was signed by Sultan Bayzid, but which was Done by Meer Ali. Mrs. Curtis thought it was so good she wanted to read it for herself.
It rained hard off and on yesterday afternoon and evening. Outside of my window the buckeye blossoms have been scattered on the pavement and sidewalk.
|May of 1934 was in the middle of the Dust Bowl.|
The air line ticket man says he has my reservation through to Los Angeles. The papers report a dust storm over the middle west two miles high. It is hazy here today, a brown haze, more like dust than humidity. The air is dry. I am packed and ready to go. At one oclock Ill go to the RFC office. And about three will go to the air field, for my plane leaves at 3:40 this afternoon.
So, au revoir Washington, if not a final good-bye. For who knows what may happen at any time. Certainly I had never dreamed that I would be here nearly three weeks. And I do not know yet with what result.
About two oclock I walked over to the RFC office and told the Negro elevator operator, Tenth, please. I have to wait about five minutes to see Mr. Sheehan. The young man then says, You may go in. Mr. Sheehan will see you now. Fear and hope surged around within me, but I try to appear calm. When I look at Mr. Sheehans expressionless face I recall it was like that day before yesterday, and he being of that type it may mean nothing. Then he speaks in an even, cool voice, saying, The Board decided it could not make that investment. Your application was disapproved. A fighter is always prepared to take a blow and is not supposed to show surprise when he is hit, I recall. I wait a few seconds for some statement of reasons. He looks out of the window and says nothing. So, I venture, It would be a satisfaction to know something of the reason for the disapproval. Were there any qualifications? He responded, Los Angeles Loan Agency will be advised of the reasons. I could not allow the matter to stop there, so I remarked that the advice given to the Loan Agency concerning the disapproval of the original application had given no reason and we had to use other means to find out why. I queried, I presume the reason was on grounds of general policy? Yes, he replied, and went on, If the doors are opened to your Company they would have to be opened to thousands of other small companies and it cannot be done. He added, Anyway, the Board does not consider that corporations of the type of yours come within the intent of Congress in this Act and the refusal was definite and unqualified. But you have done your duty to your Company in trying. He still looks half out of the window and is cool and even-voiced.
I realize that is all, and I must now make a proper exit. I get no help from Mr. Sheehan. I rise and remark, Of course, we are disappointed, but well live. Before I go I add, I want to say that all of the men whom I have met here in the RFC offices have been splendid to me. They have been courteous and attentive, and it has been a pleasure to meet them and to do business with them. His face shows quick interest, and he looks at me and says, That is very gracious of you, indeed. I incline my head so slightly by way of courtesy and say, They deserve the comment I have made, and turn and walk out.
I go down to Mr. Bowens office to tell him good-bye, but he has not returned from lunch. I pencil him a note of appreciation for the courtesies which he has so generously shown to me. Then I go down to the Sixth Floor to express the same to Mr. Rochelle. He, also, is not back yet, and I leave a similar note for him. And I mean it.
Is it dust, or what, that gets in the corners of my eyes? I wish I were home right now.
We did not need the RFC money after all. By the time I had returned to San Bernardino there was a definite increase in title policy orders. By May 1st (1934), the Federal Land Bank and the Farm Commissioner were well begun on their farm loan program, and a very good volume of business from this source continued until the late Fall. The Home Owners Loan Corporation finally got going. There was also some increase in other lines of business. The Company closed the year 1934 with results considerably better than in the previous three years.
Some of our loans were refinanced and we bought bonds and deposited them with the State Treasurer to freshen and replenish our Guarantee Funds. Every dollar of net earnings was also invested in bonds and likewise deposited, or used to pay on our bank indebtedness.
Now we are all glad that we did not get mixed up with the RFC. But this is hindsight. We thought we were exercising foresight in trying to get its help and were painfully disappointed at the time of the refusal. It feels like we are getting hold of the long end of the pole now. We are continuing to plan and work and plan and work.
But I cannot think the time or expense of my Washington trip was wasted. The experience was to me a most positive bit of education, which has definitely increased my mental wealth. I am sure, also, what I have learned from this experience has made me a more efficient and a farther-seeing officer and employee of our Company.
May 8-9, 1934
Table of Contents
Back to Home Page