Although it was never established that Saunders had had hishand improperly in the Piggly Wiggly corporate till during hiscornering operation, his first business move after the collapse ofhis attempt to unload stock suggested that he had at least hadgood reason to refuse a spot audit of the company’s books. Inspite of futile grunts of protest from the watchdog committee,he began selling not Piggly Wiggly stock but Piggly Wigglystores—partly liquidating the company, that is—and no oneknew where he would stop. The Chicago stores went first, andthose in Denver and Kansas City soon followed. His announcedintention was to build up the company’s treasury so that itcould buy the stock that the public had spurned, but there wassome suspicion that the treasury desperately needed atransfusion just then—and not of Piggly Wiggly stock, either.
“I’ve got Wall Street and the whole gang licked,” Saundersreported cheerfully in June. But in mid-August, with theSeptember 1st deadline for repayment of two and a half milliondollars on his loan staring him in the face and with nothinglike that amount of cash either on hand or in prospect, heresigned as president of Piggly Wiggly Stores, Inc., and turnedover his assets—his stock in the company, his Pink Palace, andall the rest of his property—to his creditors.
It remained only for the formal stamp of failure to be put onSaunders personally and on Piggly Wiggly under hismanagement. On August 22nd, the New York auction firm ofAdrian H. Muller & Son, which dealt in so manynext-to-worthless stocks that its salesroom was often called “thesecurities graveyard,” knocked down fifteen hundred shares ofPiggly Wiggly at a dollar a share—the traditional price forsecurities that have been run into the ground—and thefollowing spring Saunders went through formal bankruptcyproceedings. But these were anticlimaxes. The real low point ofSaunders’ career was probably the day he was forced out ofhis company’s presidency, and it was then that, in the opinionof many of his admirers, he achieved his rhetorical peak. Whenhe emerged, harassed but still defiant, from a directors’
conference and announced his resignation to reporters, a hushfell. Then Saunders added hoarsely, “They have the body ofPiggly Wiggly, but they cannot have the soul.”
IF by the soul of Piggly Wiggly Saunders meant himself, then itdid remain free—free to go marching on in its own erratic way.
He never ventured to play another game of Corner, but hisspirit was far from broken. Although officially bankrupt, hemanaged to find people of truly rocklike faith who were stillwilling to finance him, and they enabled him to live on a scaleonly slightly less grand than in the past; reduced to playing golfat the Memphis Country Club rather than on his own privatecourse, he handed out caddy tips that the club governorsconsidered as corrupting as ever. To be sure, he no longerowned the Pink Palace, but this was about the only evidencethat served to remind his fellow townsmen of his misfortunes.
Eventually, the unfinished pleasure dome came into the handsof the city of Memphis, which appropriated $150,000 to finishit and turn it into a museum of natural history and industrialarts. As such, it continues to sustain the Saunders legend inMemphis.
After his downfall, Saunders spent the better part of threeyears in seeking redress of the wrongs that he felt he hadsuffered in the Piggly Wiggly fight, and in foiling the efforts ofhis enemies and creditors to make things still more unpleasantfor him. For a while, he kept threatening to sue the StockExchange for conspiracy and breach of contract, but a test suit,brought by some small Piggly Wiggly stockholders, failed, andhe dropped the idea. Then, in January, 1926, he learned that afederal indictment was about to be brought against him forusing the mails to defraud in his mail-order campaign to sellhis Piggly Wiggly stock. He believed, incorrectly, that thegovernment had been egged on to bring the indictment by anold associate of his—John C. Burch, of Memphis, who hadbecome secretary-treasurer of Piggly Wiggly after the shakeup.
His patience once more exhausted, Saunders went around toPiggly Wiggly headquarters and confronted Burch. Thisconference proved far more satisfactory to Saunders than hisboard-room scuffle on the day the Memphis civic stock-sellingdrive failed. Burch, according to Saunders, “undertook in astammering way to deny” the accusation, whereupon Saundersdelivered a right to the jaw, knocking off Burch’s glasses butnot doing much other damage. Burch afterward belittled theblow as “glancing,” and added an alibi that sounded like that ofany outpointed pugilist: “The assault upon me was made sosuddenly that I did not have time or opportunity to strike Mr.
Saunders.” Burch refused to press charges.
About a month later, the mail-fraud indictment was broughtagainst Saunders, but by that time, satisfied that Burch wasinnocent of any dirty work, he was his amiable old self again.
“I have only one thing 佛山夜网狼女 to regret in this new affair,” heannounced pleasantly, “and that is my fistic encounter withJohn C. Burch.” The new affair didn’t last long; in April theindictment was quashed by the Memphis District Court, andSaunders and Piggly Wiggly were finally quits. By then, thecompany was well on its way back up, and, with a greatlychanged corporate structure, it flourished on into the nineteensixties; housewives continued to ramble down the aisles ofhundreds of Piggly Wiggly stores, now operated under afranchise agreement with the Piggly Wiggly Corporation, ofJacksonville, Florida.
Saunders, too, was well on his way back up. In 1928, hestarted a new grocery chain, which he—but hardly anyoneelse—called the Clarence Saunders, Sole Owner of My Name,Stores, Inc. Its outlets soon came to be known as Sole Ownerstores, which was precisely what they weren’t, for withoutSaunders’ faithful 佛山桑拿论坛的qq群 backers they would have existed only in hismind. Saunders’ choice of a corporate title, however, was notdesigned to mislead the public; rather, it was his ironic way ofreminding the world that, after the skinning Wall Street hadgiven him, his name was about the only thing he still had aclear title to. How many Sole Owner customers—or governorsof the Stock Exchange, for that matter—got the point isquestionable. In any case, the new stores caught on so rapidlyand did so well that Saunders leaped back up from bankruptcyto riches, and bought a million-dollar estate just outsideMemphis. He also organized and underwrote a professionalfootball team called the Sole Owner Tigers—an investment thatpaid off handsomely on the fall afternoons when he could hearcries of “Rah! Rah! Rah! Sole Owner! Sole Owner! SoleOwner!” ringing through the Memphis Stadium.
FOR the second time, Saunders’ 佛山桑拿qq glory was fleeting. The veryfirst wave of the depression hit Sole Owner Stores such acrushing blow that in 1930 they went bankrupt, and he wasbroke again. But again he pulled himself together and survivedthe debacle. Finding backers, he planned a new chain ofgrocery stores, and thought up a name for it that was moreoutlandish, if possible, than either of its predecessors—Keedoozle.
He never made another killing, however, or bought anothermillion-dollar estate, though it was always clear that he expectedto. His hopes were pinned on the Keedoozle, an electricallyoperated grocery store, and he spent the better part of the lasttwenty years of his life trying to perfect it. In a Keedoozlestore, the merchandise was displayed behind glass panels, eachwith a slot beside it, like the food in an Automat. There thesimilarity ended, for, instead of inserting coins in the slot toopen a panel and lift out a purchase, Keedoozle 佛山桑拿微信 customersinserted a key that they were given on entering the store.
Moreover, Saunders’ thinking had advanced far beyond theelementary stage of having the key open the panel; each timea Keedoozle key was inserted in a slot, the identity of the itemselected was inscribed in code on a segment of recording tapeembedded in the key itself, and simultaneously the item wasautomatically transferred to a conveyor belt that carried it to anexit gate at the front of the store. When a customer hadfinished his shopping, he would present his key to an attendantat the gate, who would decipher the tape and add up the bill.
As soon as this was paid, the purchases would be catapultedinto the customer’s arms, all bagged and wrapped, by a deviceat the end of the conveyor belt.
A couple of pilot Keedoozle stores were tried out—one inMemphis and the other in Chicago—but it was found that themachinery was too complex and expensive to compete withsupermarket pushcarts. Undeterred, Saunders set to work onan even more intricate mechanism—the Foodelectric, 佛山夜生活最热闹的地方 whichwould do everything the Keedoozle could do and add up thebill as well. It will never corner the retail-store-equipmentmarket, though, because it was still unfinished when Saundersdied, in October, 1953, five years too soon for him to see theBruce “corner”, which, in any case, he would have been fullyentitled to scoff at as a mere squabble among ribbon clerks.
Chapter 9 A Second 佛山南海桑拿休闲会所 Sort of Life
DURING Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, when Wall Streetand Washington tended to be on cat-and-dog terms, perhapsno New Dealer other than That Man himself better typified theNew Deal in the eyes of Wall Street than David Eli Lilienthal.
The explanation of this estimate of him in southern Manhattanlay not in any specific anti-Wall Street acts ofLilienthal’s—indeed, the scattering of financiers, among themWendell L. Willkie, who had personal dealings with himgenerally found him to be a reasonable sort of fellow—but inwhat he had come to symbolize through his association withthe Tennessee Valley Authority, which, as a government-ownedelectric-power concern far larger than any private powercorporation in the country, embodied Wall Street’s notion ofgalloping Socialism. 南海盐步桑拿网 Because Lilienthal was a conspicuous andvigorous member of the T.V.A.’s three-man board of directorsfrom 1933 until 1941, and was its chairman from 1941 until1946, the business community of that period, in his phrase,thought he “wore horns.” In 1946, he became the firstchairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, andwhen he gave up that position, in February, 1950, at the ageof fifty, the Times said in a news story that he had been“perhaps the most controversial figure in Washington since theend of the war.”
What has Lilienthal been up to in the years since he left thegovernment? As a matter of public record, he has been up toa number of things, all of them, surprisingly, centered on WallStreet or on private 佛山夜生活888论坛 business, or both. For one thing, Lilienthalis listed in any number of business compendiums as theco-founder and the chairman of the board of the Development& Resources Corporation. Several years ago, I phoned D. &R.’s offices, then at 50 Broadway, New York City, anddiscovered it to be a private firm—Wall Street-backed as well as,give or take a block, Wall Street-based—that providesmanagerial, technical, business, and planning services toward thedevelopment of natural resources abroad. That is to say, D. &R.—whose other co-founder, the late Gordon R. Clapp, wasLilienthal’s successor as T.V.A. chairman—is in the business ofhelping governments set up programs more or less similar tothe T.V.A. Since its formation, in 1955, I learned, D. & R. had,at moderate but gratifying profit to itself, planned and managedthe beginnings of a vast scheme for the reclamation ofKhuzistan, an arid and poverty-stricken, though oil-rich, regionof western Iran; advised the government of Italy on thedevelopment of its backward southern provinces; helped theRepublic of Colombia set up a T.V.A.-like authority for itspotentially fertile but flood-plagued Cauca Valley; and offeredadvice to Ghana on water supply, to the Ivory Coast onmineral development, and to Puerto Rico on electric power andatomic energy.
For another thing—and when I found out about this, it struckme as considerably more astonishing, on form, than D. &R.—Lilienthal has made an authentic fortune as a corporateofficer and entrepreneur. In a proxy statement of the Minerals& Chemicals Corporation of America, dated June 24, 1960, thatfell into my hands, I found Lilienthal listed as a director of thefirm and the holder of 41,366 shares of its common stock.
These shares at the time of my investigation were being tradedon the New York Stock Exchange at something overtwenty-five dollars each, and simple multiplication revealed thatthey represented a thumping sum by most men’s standards,certainly including those of a man who had spent most of hislife on government wages, without the help of private resources.
And, for still another thing, in 1953 Harper & Brothersbrought out Lilienthal’s third book, “Big Business: A New Era.”
(His previous books were “T.V.A.: Democracy on the March”
and “This I Do Believe,” which appeared in 1944 and 1949,respectively.) In “Big Business,” Lilienthal argues that not onlythe productive and distributive superiority of the United Statesbut also its national security depends on industrial bigness; thatwe now have adequate public safeguards against abuses of bigbusiness, or know well enough how to fashion them asrequired; that big business does not tend to destroy smallbusiness, as is often supposed, but, rather, tends to promote it;and, finally, that a big-business society does not suppressindividualism, as most intellectuals believe, but actually tends toencourage it by reducing poverty, disease, and physicalinsecurity and increasing the opportunities for leisure and travel.
Fighting words, in short, from an old New Dealer.
Lilienthal is a man whose government career I, as anewspaper reader, had followed fairly closely. My interest inhim as
a government official had reached its peak in February,1947, when, in answer to a fierce attack on him by his oldenemy Senator Kenneth D. McKellar, of Tennessee, duringCongressional hearings on his fitness for the A.E.C. job, heuttered a spontaneous statement of personal democratic faiththat for many people still ranks as one of the most stirringattacks on what later came to be known as McCarthyism.
(“One of the tenets of democracy that grow out of this centralcore of a belief that the individual comes first, that all men arethe children of God and their personalities are thereforesacred,” Lilienthal said, among other things, “is a deep belief incivil liberties and their protection; and a repugnance to anyonewho would steal from a human being that which is mostprecious to him, his good name, by imputing things to him, byinnuendo, or by insinuation.”) The fragments of information Ipicked up about his new, private career left me confused.
Wondering how Wall Street and business life had affectedLilienthal, and vice versa, in their belated rapprochement, I gotin touch with him, and a day or so later, at his invitation,drove out to New Jersey to spend the afternoon with him.
LILIENTHAL and his wife, Helen Lamb Lilienthal, lived on BattleRoad, in Princeton, where they had settled in 1957, after sixyears in New York City, at first in a house on Beekman Placeand later in an apartment on Sutton Place. The Princetonhouse, which stands in a plot of less than an acre, is ofGeorgian brick with green shutters. Surrounded by otherhouses of its kind, the place is capacious yet anything butpretentious. Lilienthal, wearing gray slacks and a plaid sportsshirt, met me at the front door. At just past sixty, he was atall, trim man with a receding hairline, a slightly hawklikeprofile, and candid, piercing eyes. He led me into the livingroom, where he introduced Mrs. Lilienthal and then pointed outa couple of household treasures—a large Oriental rug in frontof the fireplace, which he said was a gift from the Shah ofIran, and, hanging on the wall opposite the fireplace, a Chinesescroll of the late nineteenth century showing four rather roguishmen, who, he told me, have a special meaning for him, sincethey are upper-middle-rank civil servants. Pointing to aparticularly enigmatic-looking fellow, he added, with a smile, thathe always thought of that one as his Oriental counterpart.
Mrs. Lilienthal went to get coffee, and while she was gone, Iasked Lilienthal to tell me something of his post-governmentlife, starting at the beginning. “All right,” he said. “Thebeginning: I left the A.E.C. for a number of reasons. In thatkind of work, I feel, a fellow is highly expendable. If you stayedtoo long, you might find yourself placating industry or themilitary, or both—building up what would amount to an atomicpork barrel. Another thing—I wanted to be allowed to speakmy mind more freely than I could as a government official. Ifelt I’d served my term. So I turned in my resignation inNovember, 1949, and it went into effect three months later. Asfor the timing, I resigned then because, for once, I wasn’tunder fire. Originally, I’d planned to do it earlier in 1949, butthen came the last Congressional attack on me—the timeHickenlooper, of Iowa, accused me of ‘incrediblemismanagement.’” I noticed that Lilienthal did not smile inreferring to the Hickenlooper affair. “I entered private life withboth trepidation and relief,” he went on. “The trepidation wasabout my ability to make a living, and it was very real. Oh, I’dbeen a practicing lawyer as a young man, in Chicago, beforegoing into government work, and made quite a lot of money atit, too. But now I didn’t want to practice law. And I wasworried about what else I could do. I was so obsessed withthe subject that I harped on it all the time, and my wife andmy friends began to kid me. That Christmas of 1949, my wifegave me a beggar’s tin cup, and one of my friends gave me aguitar to go with it. The feeling of relief—well, that was amatter of personal privacy and freedom. As a private citizen, Iwouldn’t have to be trailed around by hordes of securityofficers as I had been at the A.E.C. I wouldn’t have to answerthe charges of Congressional committees. And, above all, I’d beable to talk freely to my wife again.”
Mrs. Lilienthal had returned with the coffee as her husbandwas talking, and now she sat down with us. She comes, Iknew, from a family of pioneers who, over several generations,moved westward from New England to Ohio to Indiana toOklahoma, where she was born. She seemed to me to look thepart—that of a woman of dignity, patience, practicality, andgentle strength. “I can tell you that my husband’s resignationwas a relief to me,” she said. “Before he went with the A.E.C.,we’d always talked over all aspects of his work. When he tookthat job, we agreed between us that although we’d indulge inthe discussion of personalities as freely as we pleased, he wouldnever tell me anything about the work of the A.E.C. that Icouldn’t read in the newspapers. It was a terrible constraint tobe under.”
Lilienthal nodded. “I’d come home at night with some frightfulexperience in me,” he said. “No one who so much as touchesthe atom is ever quite the same again. Perhaps I’d have beenin a series of conferences and listened to the kind of talk thatmany military and scientific men go in for—cities full of humanbeings referred to as ‘targets,’ and that sort of thing. I nevergot used to that impersonal jargon. I’d come home sick atheart. But I couldn’t talk about it to Helen. I wasn’t allowed toget it off my chest.”
“And now there wouldn’t be any more hearings,” Mrs.
Lilienthal said. “Those terrible hearings! I’ll never forget oneWashington cocktail party we went to, for our sins. Myhusband had been going through one of the endless series ofCongressional hearings. A woman in a funny hat came gushingup to him and said something like ‘Oh, Mr. Lilienthal, I was soanxious to come to your hearings, but I just couldn’t make it.
I’m so sorry. I just love hearings, don’t you?’”
Husband and wife looked at each other, and this timeLilienthal managed a grin.
LILIENTHAL seemed glad to get on to what happened next. Atabout the time his resignation became effective, he told me, hewas approached by various men from Harvard representing thefields of history, public administration, and law, who asked himto accept an appointment to the faculty. But he decided hedidn’t want to become a professor any more than he wantedto practice law. Within the next few weeks came offers fromnumerous law firms in New York and Washington, and fromsome industrial companies. Reassured by these that he was notgoing to need the tin cup and guitar after all, Lilienthal, aftermulling over the offers, finally turned them all down andsettled, in May, 1950, for a part-time job as a consultant to thecelebrated banking firm of Lazard Frères & Co., whose seniorpartner, André Meyer, he had met through Albert Lasker, amutual friend. Lazard gave him an office in its headquarters at44 Wall, but before he could do much consulting, he was offon a lecture tour across the United States, followed by a tripto Europe that summer, with his wife, on behalf of the lateCollier’s magazine. The trip did not result in any articles,though, and on returning home in the fall he found itnecessary to get back on a full-time income-producing basis;this he did by becoming a consultant to various othercompanies, among them the Carrier Corporation and the RadioCorporation of America. To Carrier he offered advice onmanagerial problems. For R.C.A., he worked on the question ofcolor television, ultimately advising his client to concentrate ontechnical research rather than on law-court squabbles overpatents; he also helped persuade the company to press itscomputer program and to stay out of the construction ofatomic reactors. Early in 1951, he took another trip abroad forCollier’s—to India, Pakistan, Thailand, and Japan. This tripproduced an article—published in Collier’s that August—in whichhe proposed a solution to the dispute between India andPakistan over Kashmir and the headwaters of the Indus River.
Lilienthal’s idea was that the tension between the two countriescould best be lessened by a co?perative program to improveliving conditions in the whole disputed area through economicdevelopment of the Indus Basin. Nine years later, largelythrough the financial backing and moral support of Eugene R.
Black and the World Bank, the Lilienthal plan was essentiallyadopted, and an Indus treaty signed between India andPakistan. But the immediate reaction to his article was generalindifference, and Lilienthal, temporarily stymied and considerablydisillusioned, once more settled down to the humbler problemsof private business.
At this point in Lilienthal’s narrative, the doorbell rang. Mrs.
Lilienthal went to answer it, and I could hear her talking tosomeone—a gardener, evidently—about the pruning of someroses. After listening restlessly for a minute or two, Lilienthalcalled to his wife, “Helen, please tell Domenic to prune thoseroses farther back than he did last year!” Mrs. Lilienthal wentoutside with Domenic, and Lilienthal remarked, “Domenic alwaysprunes too gently, to my way of thinking. It’s a case of ourbackgrounds—Italy versus the Middle West.” Then, resumingwhere he had left off, he said that his association with LazardFrères, and more particularly with Meyer, had led him into anassociation, first as a consultant and later as an executive, witha small company called the Minerals Separation North AmericanCorporation, in which Lazard Frères had a large interest. Itwas in this undertaking that, unexpectedly, he made his fortune.
The company was in trouble, and Meyer’s notion was thatLilienthal might be the man to do something about it.
Subsequently, in the course of a series of mergers, acquisitions,and other maneuvers, the company’s name was changed to,successively, the Attapulgus Minerals & Chemicals Corporation,the Minerals & Chemicals Corporation of America, and, in 1960,the Minerals & Chemicals Philipp Corporation; meanwhile, itsannual receipts rose from about seven hundred and fiftythousand dollars, for 1952, to something over two hundred andseventy-four million, for 1960. For Lilienthal, the acceptance ofMeyer’s commission to look into the company’s affairs was thebeginning of a four-year immersion in the day-to-day problemsof managing a business; the experience, he said decisively,turned out to be one of his life’s richest, and by no meansonly in the literal sense of that word.
I HAVE reconstructed the corporate facts behind Lilienthal’sexperience partly from what he told me in Princeton, partlyfrom a subsequent study of some of the company’s publisheddocuments, and partly from talks with other persons interestedin the firm. Minerals Separation North American, which wasfounded in 1916 as an offshoot of a British firm, was a patentcompany, deriving its chief income from royalties on patents forprocesses used in refining copper ore and the ores of othernonferrous minerals. Its activities were twofold—attempting todevelop new patents in its research laboratory, and offeringtechnical services to the mining and manufacturing companiesthat leased its old ones. By 1950, although it was still netting anice annual profit, it was in a bad way. Under the direction ofits long-time president, Dr. Seth Gregory—who was then overninety but still ruled the company with an iron hand,commuting daily between his midtown apartment hotel and hisoffice, at 11 Broadway, in a regally purple Rolls-Royce—it hadcut down its research activities to almost nothing and was livingon half a dozen old patents, all of which were scheduled to gointo the public domain in from five to eight years. In effect, itwas a still healthy company living under a death sentence.
Lazard Frères, as a large stockholder, was understandablyconcerned. Dr. Gregory was persuaded to retire on ahandsome pension, and in February, 1952, after working withMinerals Separation for some time as a consultant, Lilienthalwas installed as the company’s president and a member of itsboard of directors. His first task was to find a new source ofincome to replace the fast-expiring patents, and he and theother directors agreed that the way to accomplish this wasthrough a merger; it fell to Lilienthal to participate in arrangingone between Minerals Separation and another company inwhich Lazard Frères—along with the Wall Street firm of F.
Eberstadt & Co.—had large holdings: the Attapulgus ClayCompany, of Attapulgus, Georgia, which produced a very rarekind of clay that is useful in purifying petroleum products, andwhich manufactured various household products, among them afloor cleaner called Speedi-Dri.
As a marriage broker between Minerals Separation andAttapulgus, Lilienthal had the touchy job of persuading theexecutives of the Southern company that they were not beingused as pawns by a bunch of rapacious Wall Street bankers.
Being an agent of the bankers was an unaccustomed role forLilienthal, but he evidently carried it off with aplomb, despitethe fact that his presence complicated the emotional problemsstill further by introducing into the situation a whiff of gallopingSocialism. “Dave was very effective in building up the Attapulguspeople’s morale and confidence,” another Wall Streeter has toldme. “He reconciled them to the merger, and showed them itsadvantages for them.” Lilienthal himself told me, “I felt at homein the administrative and technical parts of the job, but thefinancial part had to be done by the people from Lazard andEberstadt. Every time they began talking about spinoffs andexchanges of shares, I was lost. I didn’t even know what aspinoff was.” (As Lilienthal knows now, it is, not to get tootechnical about it, a division of a company into two or morecompanies—the opposite of a merger.) The merger took placein December, 1952, and neither the Attapulgus people nor theMinerals Separation people had any reason to regret it, becauseboth the profits and the stock price of the newly formedcompany—the Attapulgus Minerals & ChemicalsCorporation—soon began to rise. At the time of the merger,Lilienthal was made chairman of the board of directors, at anannual salary of eighteen thousand dollars. Over the next threeyears, while serving first in this position and later as chairmanof the executive committee, he had a large part not only in theconduct of the company’s routine affairs but also in its furthergrowth through a series of new mergers—one in 1954, withEdgar Brothers, a leading producer of kaolin for paper coating,and two in 1955, with a pair of limestone concerns in Ohioand Virginia. The mergers and the increased efficiency thatwent with them were not long in paying off; between 1952 and1955 the company’s net profit per share more than quintupled.
The mechanics of Lilienthal’s own rise from the comparativerags of a public servant to the riches of a successfulentrepreneur are baldly outlined in the company’s proxystatements for its annual and special stockholders’ meetings.
(There are few public documents more indiscreet than proxystatements, in which the precise private stockholdings ofdirectors must be listed.) In November, 1952, MineralsSeparation North American granted Lilienthal, as a supplementto his annual salary, a stock option.* His option entitled him tobuy as many as fifty thousand shares of the firm’s stock fromits treasury at $4.87? per share, then the going rate, any timebefore the end of 1955, and in exchange he signed a contractagreeing to serve the company as an active executivethroughout 1953, 1954, and 1955. The potential financialadvantage to him, of course, as to all other recipients of stockoptions, lay in the fact that if the price of the stock rosesubstantially, he could buy shares at the option price and thushave a holding that would immediately be worth much morethan he paid for it. Furthermore, and more important, if heshould later decide to sell his shares, the proceeds would be acapital gain, taxable at a maximum rate of 25%. Of course, ifthe stock failed to go up, the option would be worthless. But,like so many stocks of the mid-fifties, Lilienthal’s did go up,fantastically. By the end of 1954, according to the proxystatements, Lilienthal had exercised his option to the extent ofbuying twelve thousand seven hundred and fifty shares, whichwere then worth not $4.87? each but about $20. InFebruary, 1955, he sold off four thousand shares at $22.75each, bringing in ninety-one thousand dollars. This sum, lesscapital-gains tax, was then applied against further purchasesunder the option, and in August, 1955, the proxy statementsshow, Lilienthal raised his holdings to almost forty thousandshares, or close to the number he held at the time of my visitto him. By that time, the stock, which had at first been soldover the counter, not only had achieved a listing on the NewYork Stock Exchange but had become one of the Exchange’shighflying speculative favorites; its price had skyrocketed toabout forty dollars a share, and Lilienthal, obviously, was solidlyin the millionaire class. Moreover, the company was now on asound long-term basis, paying an annual cash dividend of fiftycents a share, and the Lilienthal family’s financial worries werepermanently over.
Fiscally speaking, Lilienthal told me, his symbolic moment oftriumph was the day, in June of 1955, when the shares ofMinerals & Chemicals graduated to a listing on the New YorkStock Exchange. In accordance with custom, Lilienthal, as a topofficer, was invited onto the floor to shake hands with thepresident of the Exchange and be shown around generally. “Iwent through it in a daze,” Lilienthal told me. “Until then, I’dnever been inside any stock exchange in my life. It was allmysterious and fascinating. No zoo could have seemed morestrange to me.” How the Stock Exchange felt at this stageabout having the former wearer of horns on its floor is notrecorded.
IN telling me about his experience with the company, Lilienthalhad spoken with zest and had made the whole thing soundmysterious and fascinating. I asked him what, apart from theobvious financial inducement, had led him to devote himself tothe affairs of a small firm, and how it had felt for the formerboss of T.V.A. and A.E.C. to be, in effect, peddling Attapulgite,kaolin, limestone, and Speedi-Dri. Lilienthal leaned back in hischair and stared at the ceiling. “I wanted an entrepreneurialexperience,” he said. “I found a great appeal in the idea oftaking a small and quite crippled company and trying to makesomething of it. Building. That kind of building, I thought, is thecentral thing in American free enterprise, and something I’dmissed in all my government work. I wanted to try my handat it. Now, about how it felt. Well, it felt plenty exciting. It wasfull of intellectual stimulation, and a lot of my old ideaschanged. I conceived a great new respect for financiers—menlike André Meyer. There’s a correctness about them, a certainhigh sense of honor, that I’d never had any conception of. Ifound that business life is full of creative, original minds—alongwith the usual number of second-guessers, of course.
Furthermore, I found it seductive. In fact, I was in danger ofbecoming a slave. Business has its man-eating side, and part ofthe man-eating side is that it’s so absorbing. I found that thethings you read—for instance, that acquiring money for its ownsake can become an addiction if you’re not careful—are literallytrue. Certain good friends helped keep me on the track—menlike Ferdinand Eberstadt, who became my fellow-director afterthe Attapulgus merger, and Nathan Greene, special counsel toLazard Frères, who was on the board for a while. Greene wasa kind of business father confessor to me. I remember hissaying, ‘You think you’ll make your pile and then beindependent. My friend, in Wall Street you don’t just win yourindependence at one stroke. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson,you have to win your independence over again every day.’ Ifound that he was right about that. Oh, I had my problems. Iquestioned myself at every step. It was exhausting. You see, forso long I’d been associated with two pretty far-reachingthings—institutions. I had a feeling of identity with them; in thatkind of work you are able to lose your sense of self. Now,with myself to worry about—my personal standards as well asmy financial future—I found myself wondering all the timewhether I was making the right move. But that part’s all in myjournal, and you can read it there, if you like.” *I said I certainly would like to read it, and Lilienthal led meto his study, in the basement. It proved to be a good-sizedroom whose windows opened on window wells into whichstrands of ivy were trailing; light came in from outside, andeven a little slanting sunshine, but the tops of the window wellswere too high to permit a view of the garden or theneighborhood. Lilienthal remarked, “My neighbor RobertOppenheimer complained about the enclosed feeling when hefirst saw this room. I told him that was just the feeling Iwanted!” Then he showed me a filing cabinet, standing in acorner; it contained the journal, in rows and rows of loose-leafnotebooks, the earliest of them dating back to its author’shigh-school days. Having invited me to make myself at home,Lilienthal left me alone in his study and went back upstairs.
Taking him at his word, I went for a turn or two around theroom, looking at the pictures on the walls and finding aboutwhat might have been expected: inscribed photographs fromFranklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Senator George Norris,Louis Brandeis; pictures of Lilienthal with Roosevelt, with Willkie,with Fiorello LaGuardia, with Nelson Rockefeller, with Nehru inIndia; a night view of the Fontana Dam, in the TennesseeValley, being built under a blaze of electricity supplied by T.V.A.
power plants. A man’s study reflects himself as he wishes to beseen publicly, but his journal, if he is honest, reflects somethingelse. I had not browsed long in Lilienthal’s journal before Irealized that it was an extraordinary document—not merely ahistorical source of unusual interest but a searching record of apublic man’s thoughts and emotions. I leafed through the yearsof his association with Minerals & Chemicals, and, scatteredamid much about family, Democratic politics, friends, tripsabroad, reflections on national policies, and hopes and fears forthe republic, I came upon the following entries having to dowith business and life in New York:
May 24, 1951: Looks as if I am in the minerals business. In a small way,that could become a big way. [He goes on to explain that he has justhad his first interview with Dr. Gregory, and is apparently acceptable to theold man as the new president of the company.]
May 31, 1951: [Starting in business] is like learning to walk after a longillness.… At first you have to think: move the right foot, move the leftfoot, etc. Then you are walking without thinking, and then walking issomething one does with unconsciousness and utter confidence. This latterstate, as to business, has yet to come, but I had the first touch of ittoday.
July 22, 1951: I recall Wendell Willkie saying to me years ago, “Living inNew York is a great experience. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. It is themost exciting, stimulating, satisfying spot in the world,” etc. I think this wasapropos of some remark I had made on a business visit to NewYork—that I was certainly glad I didn’t have to live in that madhouse ofnoise and dirt. [Last] Thursday was a day in which I shared some ofWillkie’s feeling.… There was a grandeur about the place, and adventure, asense of being in the center of a great achievement, New York City in thefifties.
October 28, 1951: What I am reaching for, perhaps, is to have my cakeand eat it, too, but in a way this is not wholly senseless nor futile. Thatis, I can have enough actual contact with the affairs of business to keep asense of reality, or develop one. How otherwise can I explain the pleasureI get in visiting a copper mine or talking to operators of an electricfurnace, or a coal-research project, or watching how André Meyer works.…But along with that I want to be free enough to think about what thesethings mean, free enough to read outside the immediate field of interest.
This requires keeping out of status (the absence of which I know makesme vaguely unhappy).
December 8, 1952: What is it that investment bankers do for theirmoney? Well, I have certainly had my eyes opened, as to the amount oftoil, sweat, frustrations, problems—yes, and tears—that has to be gonethrough.… If everyone who has something to sell in the market had to beas meticulous and detailed in his statements about what he is selling asthose who offer stock in the market are now, under the Truth inSecurities law, darn little would be sold, in time to be useful, at least.
December 20, 1952: My purpose in this Attapulgus venture is to make agood deal of money in a short time, in a way (i.e., old man capital gains)that enables me to keep three-fourths of it, instead of paying 80% ormore in income taxes.… But there is another purpose: to have had theexperience of business.… The real reason, or the chief reason, is a feelingthat my life wouldn’t be complete, living in a business period—that is, atime dominated by the business of business—unless I had been active inthat area. What I wanted was to be an observer of this fascinating activitythat so colors and affects the world’s life, not … an observer from without(as a writer, teacher) but from the arena itself. I still have this feeling, andwhen I get low and glad to chuck the whole thing (as I have from timeto time), the sustaining part is that even the bumps and sore spots areexperiences, actual experiences within the business world.…Then, too, [I wanted to be able to make] a comparison of the managersof business, the spirit, the tensions, the motivations, etc., with those ofgovernment (something I keep doing anyway)—and that needs doing tounderstand either government or business. This requires actual validexperience in the business world somewhat comparable to my long hiringout in government matters.
I don’t kid myself that I will ever be accepted as a businessman, notafter those long years when I wore horns, for all of them outside theTennessee Valley at least. And I feel less defensive—usually shown by abelligerence—on this score than I did when I rarely saw a tycoon or aWall Streeter, whereas now I live with them.…January 18, 1953: I am now definitely committed [to Minerals &Chemicals] for not less than three more years … and morally committed tosee the thing through. While I can’t conceive that this business will everseem enough, an end of itself, to make up a satisfactory life, yet thebusy-ness, the activity, the crises, the gambles, the management problems Imust face, the judgment about people, all combine to make something farfrom dull. Add to this the good chance of making a good deal of money.…My decision to try business—that seemed to so many people a bit ofromantic moonshine—makes more sense today than it did a year ago.
But there is something missing.…December 2, 1953: Crawford Greenewalt [president of du Pont] …introduced me in a speech (in Philadelphia).… He noted that I had enteredthe chemical business; bearing in mind that I had previously headed thebiggest things in America, bigger than [any] private corporations, he wasnaturally a little nervous about seeing me become a potential competitor. Itwas kidding, but it was good kidding. And it certainly gave little oleAttapulgus quite a notice.
June 30, 1954: I have found a new kind of satisfaction, and in a sense,fulfillment, in a business career. I really never felt that the “consultant”
thing was being a businessman, or engaging in the realities of a life ofbusiness. Too remote from the actual thinking process, the exercise ofjudgment and decision.… In this company, as we are evolving it, there areso many of the elements of fun.… The starting with almost nothing … thecompany depending on patents alone … acquisition, mergers, stock issues,proxy statements, the methods of financing internally and by bank loans …also the way stock prices are made, the silly and almost childlike basisupon which grown men decide that a stock should be bought, and atwhat price … the merger with Edgar, the great [subsequent] rise in theprice of their stock … the review of the price structure. The beginning ofbetter costs. The catalyst idea. The drive and energy and imagination: thenights and days (in the lab until 2 A.M. night after night) and finally thebeginning of a new business.… It is quite a story.
(Later I got a rather different perspective on Lilienthal’sreactions to the transition from government to business bytalking to the man he had described as his “business fatherconfessor,” Nathan Greene. “What happens to a man wholeaves top-level government work and comes to Wall Street asa consultant?” Greene asked me rhetorically. “Well, usually it’s abig letdown. In the government, Dave was used to a sense ofgreat authority and power—tremendous national andinternational responsibility. People wanted to be seen with him.
Foreign dignitaries sought him out. He had all sorts offacilities—rows of buttons on his desk. He pushed them, andlawyers, technicians, accountants appeared to do his bidding. Allright, now he comes to Wall Street. There’s a big welcomingreception, he meets all the partners of his new firm and theirwives, he’s given a nice office with a carpet. But there’s nothingon his desk—only one button, and all it summons is asecretary. He doesn’t have perquisites like limousines.
Furthermore, he really has no responsibility. He says to himself,‘I’m an idea man, I’ve got to have some ideas.’ He has some,but they’re not given much attention by the partners. So theoutward form of his new work is a letdown. The same with itscontent. In Washington, it had been development of naturalresources, atomic energy, or the like—world-shaking things. Nowit turns out to be some little business to make money. It allseems a bit petty.
“Then, there’s the matter of money itself. In the government,our hypothetical man didn’t need it so badly. He had all theseservices and the basic comforts supplied him at no personalcost, and besides he had a great sense of moral superiority.
He was able to sneer at people who were out making money.
He could think of somebody in his law-school class who wasmaking a pile in the Street, and say, ‘He’s sold out.’ Then ourman leaves government and goes to the Wall Street fleshpotshimself, and he says, ‘Boy, am I going to make these guys payfor my services!’ They do pay, too. He gets big fees forconsulting. Then he finds out about big income taxes, how hehas to pay most of his income to the government now insteadof getting his livelihood from it. The shoe is on the other foot.
He may—sometimes he does—begin to scream ‘Confiscation!,’
just like any old Wall Streeter.
“How did Dave handle these problems? Well, he had histroubles—after all, he was starting a second sort of life—but hehandled them just about as well as they can be handled. Hewas never bored, and he never screamed ‘Confiscation!’ Hehas a great capacity for sinking himself in something. Thesubject matter isn’t so important to him. It’s almost as if hewere able to think that what he’s doing is important, whether itis or not, simply because he’s doing it. His ability wasinvaluable to Minerals & Chemicals, and not just as anadministrator. Dave is a lawyer, after all; he knows more aboutcorporate finances than he likes to admit. He enjoys playingthe barefoot boy, but he’s hardly that. Dave is an almostperfect example of somebody who kept his independence whilegetting rich on Wall Street.”)One way and another, then—reading through these ambivalentprotestations in the journal, and later hearing Greene—I seemedto detect under the exuberance and the absorption a naggingsense of dissatisfaction, almost of compromise. For Lilienthal, theobviously genuine thrill of having a new kind of experience, andan almost unimaginably profitable one, had been, I sensed, arose with a worm in it. I went back up to the living room.
There I found Lilienthal fiat on his back on the Shah’s rugunderneath a pile of pre-school-age children. At least, it lookedat first glance like a pile; on closer inspection I found that itconsisted of just two boys. Mrs. Lilienthal, who had returnedfrom the garden, introduced them as Allen and DanielBromberger, sons of the Lilienthals’ daughter, Nancy, andSylvain Bromberger, adding that the Brombergers were livingnearby, since Sylvain was teaching philosophy at the university.