Memory Twenty One

1966 mom and her 1963 chevrolet impalaHaving moved to Atlanta in January 1965 with Nigel aged 11, Nick 9 and Melanie 7, we soon got involved in schools, Little League baseball, girls’ softball and Brownies. The boys played on different teams which had matches and practices mostly on different nights so, with two cars, Doris and I were busy. Some nights we just waved to each other as we drove by and on most week nights our dinner was hotdogs and snow cones.

1967 nick and dad's corvairWhen Nigel’s baseball slowed down Melanie’s softball started. Doris had a Brownie troop which could occasionally be seen, packed in our big Impala wagon en route to some kind of activity. I joined Druid Hills Golf Club and played every 1966 mel,8 and nigel,12 in atlantaSaturday and Sunday and the kids were all on swim teams there. In between Doris and I played an occasional tennis game at the club and for a while, Doris was in a nine hole group.

The Jim Cherry grade school was in walking distance but Doris usually drove the kids to school, especially when Nigel chose to play the cello. He admitted years later that he only chose it so his Mom would drive him.

After a couple of years, one of the company engineers, Bill Hill left Atlanta with his wife Eileen to be a plant manager in New Jersey. He had a 14 foot motor boat in a dock at Lake Lanier just north of Atlanta. He did not want to sell it or take it with him so he asked us if we would like to look after it and use it. We obviously did and I agreed to look after it and pay the dock fee. We camped some weekends at the lake and all learned how to water ski. Even with these multiple activities, we went on week end trips and even further on school vacations. We spent time at the Stone Mountain Park, went on trips to many sheraton-british-colonialinteresting towns in north Georgia and occasionally went to the Atlantic beaches in Savannah and Jeckell Island. One summer, we drove to Fort Lauderdale, FL and flew to Nassau in the Bahamas for a week in the Sheraton British Colonial Hotel there.

I was travelling quite extensively still looking for the project that would allow us to build a major production plant. On one of these trips I learned that Youngstown Sheet and Tube Steel company in East Chicago and Indiana Harbor was working on a big plant conversion to the Basic Oxygen Process which would require major oxygen tonnage. I spent two weeks studying the area and found a suitable plant site in bordering Indiana and planned a pipeline route to the steel mill. This was hard work but very exciting at the time. Before I could get everything outlined we had an amazing piece of luck finding that the giant Bethlehem Steel plant at Burns Harbor, Indiana was also contemplating a serious expansion. Suddenly, we were looking at up to 1,000 tons per day of oxygen with a longer pipeline system and liquid storage at both mills for shut-down or back-up operation.mp6qA4qHUgLg0Y37x42vkhA

I was ordered to concentrate on the Youngstown project and make sure we could get it before thinking of the large combination possibility. This was an early indication that our senior management was not scared we might not get a big project but more scared we would get one. This was a terrible shock but I started forming a relationship with the Youngstown Purchasing Manager and his decision-maker boss.

They were both golfers and when I mentioned that our President lived in Augusta searchthey immediately asked if he could get tickets to the Masters Golf Tournament for them. This was in 1967. I knew how difficult it is to get tickets and I also knew that Pierce Marks had been trying un-successfully for several years to be invited to be a member. In other words, I was not very optimistic about his contacts or his influence. When I broached the subject, he astounded me by saying he would see if he could get them invited to not visit the Masters but to actually play the course itself at the end of their golfing year and before the course closed. He explained that after the annual Masters tournament in the first week of April, the course is closed before the first of May every year and does not open until January.

This allows the members to have invited guests as long as the member is in the foursome. Through his lawyer who was an Augusta member, he got a tee time for three people to play the Par Three course in the morning and the National in the afternoon one day late in April. My concern now changed because I was sure Marks would want to be included and I wanted Joe Moyer who had been the Sales Manager for Independent Engineering before the merger, to help me with the sales aspect of the situation. Joe had been helping with the project and was extremely good with customers. I made a special trip to give the invitation to the Youngstown people and was I popular. This was totally beyond their expectations and I knew we had the inside track on their business.imgres

The day before our Augusta date, the two Youngstown managers flew to Atlanta and Joe Moyer and I took them to dinner after which it was obvious they wanted to go on to somewhere where we could have drinks. We wound up at the “Pink Pussy Kat Lounge” just as a party was leaving and we got their table immediately next to the small stage. Drinks came and an Australian entertainer named Peter Allen began his show.

Near the end, he sang “Waltzing Matilda” and he noticed that I knew the words. He announced to the audience, “This bloke knows the words” and then he said to me, “Do you know the Wallaby song?” I said that I did. He then said,“Get up here” which, having had a few drinks, I did. We then sang together the entire ‘Tie me Kangeroo Down” song which I knew from hearing it on the radio repeatedly at that time. This was fun and the crowd loved it.

searchPeter Allen, with his arm around my shoulder, then said he wanted to introduce his girl-friend, who was in the audience. He said that she was a singer and invited her to come on the stage. He said that she just had a debut in Washington last year and you may not have heard of her but her mother was Judy Garland and her father is Vincente Minnelli, the famous Italian film director. Her name is Liza Minnelli. He chatted with her for the audience and then said that she was going to help him and “this bloke” sing the closing chorus which we then did. (Note: Liza married Peter Allen in 1967 and divorced in a few months when she found he liked men better than her.)

The next morning I had arranged to pick up our guests early but I had difficulty getting them going. By breaking the law most of the way I got us to Augusta on time. We drove up the tree lined Augusta National driveway to the clubhouse which was already closed. Our host got us settled in what is normally the caddies’ clubhouse and locker room where we changed. We did not get to see the famous Trophy Room, the Masters locker room or the Crow’s Nest where the few chosen amateurs invited to play were housed for the week of the tournament. We played the immaculate Par Three course which had far more lakes and longer holes than we expected. A snack dinner was followed by a round of golf on what is probably the most famous course and best conditioned golf course in the world. We all agreed it was like being on hallowed ground and I am sure all golfers reading this will recognize how privileged we were.

On the drive home I was told confidentially that the purchasing procedure at Youngstown was to scrutinize bids in detail and to choose the low bidder only if it was coincidental with what they considered to be the best technical proposal. If this is not the case, they typically allow their preferred bidder to re-quote. I was then told that they both agreed that we would be allowed to re-bid if our initial bid was not the lowest. This was very comforting news. We also were told that they would not go out for formal bids for two to three months. This gave us plenty of time to study a proposal with or without considering the Bethlehem supplemental requirement. Our experience in doing that is another memory for another day.

3 thoughts on “Memory Twenty One

  1. Great stories from so long ago. You have amazing memory for details, and I barely remember much of the attempted sales contract activities. I do remember that Pierce Sr. took me to visit the golf club one time….he loved to “show off”, and made sure he took me to see his home and grounds. The old man was quite a character. His wife was a strict non-drinking Southern Baptist, but he used to sneak up to the attic and sometimes drink too much bourbon. On one occasion, his legs actually went through the sheet rock “floor of the attic” and he got stuck….M L Hughes ( Augusta Plant Manager) was called upon to get him out and cover up the incident.

    I remember supporting numerous bids with estimates and actually created a series of capital estimating nomographs. Unfortunately, the investments were too great and success was beyond our grip. The 14% DCF return was a criteria we never could meet. So many memories of frustration in not winning. ER&E sent me up to NJ for estimating training and actually furnished me with all their estimating guides, and I used those tools, but the numbers didn’t lie. The competition wasn’t looking for oil and gas type returns.

    I remember lots of nice and hard working people, but little success.

    It is interesting that we both worked for the same company but saw such different sides of the business. However, I think we both developed the same opinions about the people and their qualifications.

    Later Al

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  2. I like the photo of the Druid Hills Clubhouse. We had lots of golf, tennis and swimming memories there! The party on Labor Day was always a dressy outdoor buffet with tiki lamps and an big dance band, and it would signal the end of Summer and the return to school, and we said goodbye to all our summer friends.

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