First house-After spending over a year in our apartment we started to think about looking for a house in the summer of 1958. We did not have hardly any money, but I figured we could borrow the down payment from Dad’s bank and somehow be able to make payments for it and the mortgage as long as neither was too high. We looked at a bunch of places, including Winston Park in Palatine, but those houses were around $29,000 and too much for us. We finally settled on a house in Hasbrook, a brand new subdivision in Arlington Heights. There were only two models and I don’t think they had even built one house of the 600 home subdivision. Our address was 1819 N. Walnut. The cost was $18,950 and required a 10% down payment, which we had to borrow from Dad Ley’s bank. When we were shown the contract to sign I did not know if it was a standard form or not so I checked at the village hall and found the name of the village attorney. I called him to find a reference for a local attorney, but he said just bring it over to his house and he would look at it. He read it real quick and told us that it was a standard form and that there was no problem signing it as is.
It had a one-car garage, three small bedrooms, a U shaped combination kitchen, dining and living room, two full baths and laundry in the front closet and no basement. It was 25’ x 50’ so I guess that was 1250 sq. ft including the garage. One thing we liked about the house was that it had face brick all the way around. We got the $1,895 loan for a down payment and a 4% GI mortgage with a small S&L in Chicago. The developer had recommended the S & L to us and so we used them. I remember that the S&L was very upset with us for not buying our homeowner’s insurance from an agency owned by their President. Instead we bought it from Ed Trnka, a former classmate from St. John’s who lived on the west side of Chicago.
On about December 1 the house was ready and we moved in. Ray Youngstrom and someone from AY helped. We rented a trailer or truck and in maybe two trips we moved the twenty some miles out to the suburbs. All of our furniture was really shabby because we only bought used stuff or very cheap new things. We were the first house occupied on our block, but it was not too long before others started to move in.
Second car-About the same time as we moved into our house we realized that the Nash Rambler had seen it’s last days. The floorboard had rusted out and on our last trip to Minnesota in August 1958 we all got completely covered by rust from under the car. I shopped around and finally bought a 1955 used four door Chevrolet from Lattoff Chevy in Arlington Heights for about $900. This car was a real good one and lasted us till about 1962. We must have bought this car on credit because I cannot imagine where else we would have gotten the money.
New neighbors and friends-It seemed like everyone that moved into Hasbrook was in virtually the same position as us. First house, no money and small kids. Our house was on the SE corner of Walnut and Chestnut and faced west on Walnut. Cannot remember the people in the house just south of us. They might have been short-term renters. Next to them though were Pat and Carl Pasquale and just across the street and south of them were Simone and Larry Piefer. In back of us, facing Chestnut, were Donna and Gene Baker. Across the street from them and just down the street were Marlene and Paul Harbaugh. Across the street from us were Howard and Jean Sjogren and Chuck and Jeanine Murphy. The main, and maybe only thing, we did together was play cards, drink cocktails, have dinner together and baby sit for each other.
One of the more memorable times was when the Pasquales invited the whole family down to have Thanksgiving dinner with them. Unfortunately, Pat was not much of a cook and she had put the frozen turkey into the oven only a couple of hours before we got there. We sat around drinking martinis and I think Pat had one too many. She ended up in the back bedroom and after several hours we finally sat down to try to eat the turkey. It was still raw in the middle and I don’t think we ever really finished dinner. Pat was a very lovely gal and former flight attendant. She was beautiful inside and out. Sadly she died maybe ten years ago. We still see Carl occasionally because he joined Rolling Green as a social member several years ago, mainly to play cards. My understanding is that he did very well in business in the intervening years because he owns several racehorses at Arlington Park. Carl was an excellent handicapper among other things. On the few occasions that we went to Arlington Park he would handicap the races for us. They had five children.
One other incident I dare tell about was when we were invited down to Peifer’s for dinner. Because the kids were all so young we often did not go out until the kids were all in bed, say about 9 pm. Well we sat around before dinner drinking martinis out of a big pitcher of them that Larry had made and by the time dinner was ready I sat down at the table and told Sandy that we better go home without eating. I had had one too many. After we walked home I somehow drove the baby sitter home about 5 or 10 minutes away and then when I got back home it was to bed. That was the last martini I drank. After that I switched to manhattans, actually perfect manhattans. Two parts Canadian club, ¾ part Tribuno dry vermouth, ¼ part Tribuno sweet vermouth and olives. Larry Piefer died about five years ago from colon cancer and I gave his eulogy at his funeral mass. He was about 75 years old. His wife Simone still lives in a house on Maude just like we had on Hickory. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. She loves to talk. We rarely talk to her even though we are still good friends. They had five children, one of whom is severely disabled and lives in a downstate institution. Their oldest was Larry, Jr. who we were godparents for and he paled around with our son Steve. Larry became a pro0fessional horse handicapper and did very well until he branched out into commodities on the Board of Trade.
The Baker’s were our no.1 babysitters and vice versa. They only had two children. Gene was getting his doctorate in education and eventually authored children’s books. When they moved out of Hasbrook it was just about two miles west and a much larger house. We have seen them a couple of times, but our paths rarely cross anymore.
Marlene and Paul Harbough had five or six children and they moved to New Jersey, near his job with Mobil in downtown NYC. We got along very well with them and even visited them on one of our family trips out east. They had a very large home out there and we had a good time visiting.
Jean and Howard Sjogren moved to Kansas and we only exchange Christmas cards with them.
Barbara and Wally Dahm moved to Lincoln, Il and he died at a very young age down there. We visited Barbara and her children many years ago and now only exchange Christmas cards.
Finally, Jeanine and Chuck Murphy, who lived right across the street from us, moved to Des Moines, Iowa. We stayed overnight with them on our big western camping trip in 1968. They had several kids, but I do not remember their names. He was a corporate lawyer and I believe they are now divorced.
Hintons-Part one of three-Of the many guys I got to know at work early on, I think I got to know Bill Hinton the best. Sandy and I got together with he and his wife Ruth every so often. They had bought a home on the south east side of Arlington Heights. We had started at AY at the same time, but because of my leave of absence I was about one year behind him. They had three kids, two boys and a girl. More later.
AY friends and partners-Other names of guys and their wives that we got to know at AY, many of whom are still close friends today are-Millers, Schornacks, Goss’, Dohertys, Horns, Shanleys, Dolds, Martins, Blechschmidts, Centers, Fujimotos, Caracios and Ders. There were many others too.
‘and baby (Katherine Anne-4/1/60) makes five’-When Sandy and I were dating just before the wedding we talked abut having twelve children, just like some of her aunts and uncles. I guess we were just a bit naïve. In about mid 1959 Sandy found out from Dr. Muench that she was pregnant again. The due date was late spring 1960. On Thursday, March 31, 1960 Sandy started to have contractions so it was off to the hospital. I think Donna Baker from next-door came over to take care of Steve and Tom. Sometime early on Friday, April 1, 1960 Katherine (Kathy) Anne was born.
We were just delighted and naturally I called everyone I could think of. Again, Sandy was a doll in planning this big event for the weekend. I could take care of the kids and go see her without missing any work. I believe that Sandy’s Mom came down to help out and probably got there early the next week. We had already planned on Kathy getting the front bedroom and the two boys took over the back bedroom. We had gotten bunk beds for the boy’s bedroom because the room was just too small.
Money-For the first couple of years in our new house we were very short of money. All our furniture was either second handed or given to us. With payments on the house, our loan for the down payment and the loan to buy our second car, we just made it from paycheck to pay check. One day when I was going to park the car down at the train station I discovered that I did not even have enough money to pay for parking. We were flat broke. We had a small argument about this because Sandy wanted me to cash in some of my coin collection, but I would not do it. Therefore, our plan was to have Sandy drive me to the station, which meant bundling up the kids because we could not leave them alone and there was not enough time to call the neighbors. Then when I got to the office I would take an expense draw from the cashier and that would see us through till payday. It worked and I don’t think we ever allowed ourselves to get into such a situation again.
Politics-Background and philosophy-When I was growing up I do not remember Mom or Dad ever discussing politics. The first time I got somewhat interested in politics was during my senior year at St. Johns. I was rooming with Tom Krause and we got Time magazine and would debate the pros and cons of all kinds of issues. Tom was well informed and it caused me to do more reading to keep up with him. It probably was not until I went to Kellogg and had to read The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek that I formed my conservative viewpoints. Hayek was a professor of philosophy and economics at the University of Chicago when he wrote this book in 1944. It has become a classic in economic thinking. Hayek studied all of the societies up until that time and concluded that central planning (I call it forced collectivism) has never worked. It always had led to dictatorships of one sort or the other and eventual revolution by the people. That in turn leads to extreme depressions and poverty and then back to central planning and the cycle repeats itself. He essentially was an advocate of some form of individualism even though it had never been tried and proven for anything other than a short period of time. The government of the United States is the best example of where, up to now, a basically individualistic and conservative society has worked. It is not perfect, but a lot better than anything the world has seen to date.
This background caused me to be closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. As of now I am very conservative and believe that the smaller the federal and also state governments are the better for everyone. One of the more impressive recent books that explains my thinking the best is the best seller Liberty and Tyranny by Mark P. Levin.
Politics-Local activity-While living in Hasbrook, one of our neighbors convinced me that I should be more involved in local politics so I went to a Wheeling Township Republican Organization meeting with him. There I met Henry Busse the Wheeling Township Republican Committeeman. I thought the meeting and entire organization were rather weak so I asked him if there was anything I could do. He said I could be precinct captain for precinct 38, which covered just about the entire northwest corner of the township. This was by far the largest precinct in the township. The only populated part of it was the far northeast section called Buffalo Grove, which was still being developed and had maybe 5,000 people in it. Normally precincts had no more than about 500 registered voters in them, but this one turned out to have about 1500 because it had not yet been subdivided. This was in 1960, the year that Dick Nixon and John Kennedy were the presidential candidates. One weekend when I was going door to door I ran into Jerry Moe. He and his wife were extremely interested in the election and after talking to them for maybe an hour, they agreed to take over calling on half the houses in Buffalo Grove. What the democrats thought was going to be a normally democratic part of the township turned out to vote for Nixon by maybe 100 votes. A big upset. I spent more time on this precinct than I care to admit, especially with a new baby and two other small children at home.
After the election there was a big change in the township republican leadership. At one meeting I remember John Gillen, whom I did not know, get up and raked the entire leadership over the coals. This was the catalyst and our committeeman for many years, Henry Busse, quit. The election for his successor was raucous and Gene Schilickman. a young lawyer in town was elected. I became very involved as a deputy committeeman and directed the training of precinct captains among other things.
During this election by precinct captains, I remember being confronted by one of the candidates, Tom Novotny, who chided me for being a Chicago loop CPA and asked me what I was going to do with all my money. On another occasion I remember chatting with another neighbor and lawyer, Don Norman, who asked me why I was a Republican. He said he could easily be a Republican, but there were too many of them and that was why he became a Democrat. All of this took more time than I probably should have given to it, but I thought it was the civic and, at that time, right thing to do. I got to know a lot of people very well. One was Gene Schlickman who later ran and lost in the congressional primary that Don Rumsfeld won. Gene did get elected to the state legislator as our representative and made quite a name for himself at first. He was named Representative of the Year his first year. After several terms it was clear that Gene would not play ball the way his peers wanted him to and he became disillusioned and only served maybe three terms. Others of lesser note were Tom Hauser (who later became a top official in the Nixon administration), Dick Cowen (a very successful lawyer in Chicago and top state official under one of the Rep governors-I still know and see him occasionally), Ginny Macdonald (who later became our state senator for many years), Ethel Kolerus (our township supervisor for many years), June Hunter(deceased) and Beth Shanahan(deceased). There were many others such as Jim Ryan, who became our mayor for many years. I was his campaign treasurer for several years. I remember one time I had to tell his campaign manager I could not accept a $1,000 all cash anonymous contribution and he was furious, but respected both my integrity and advice because it was illegal to accept anonymous contributions. One day we hosted a campaign coffee for Phil Crane, who became our congressman for many years. He was near exhaustion and we let him use our master bedroom, with baby Jonathan asleep, for a rest. There were many memorable events during those years, until I quit in about 1972. One of the more memorable events was when Sandy and I were in charge of tickets for our big annual Republican fundraiser in about 1964-general election year. This one was at the old Arlington Park Race track and Senator Everett Dirksen was our main speaker. It was sold out and we made tons of money. We got to meet him and that was a big deal at that time.
Miscarriage-Sometime in early 1961, Sandy became pregnant again. There were problems from the beginning and within a couple of months she had a miscarriage. This was very traumatic for our close friends and us.
My job-I was again assigned to the MDU audit for the year ended December 31, 1958. This time, however, Bud Miller, a new auditor would accompany John Schornack and myself. John and I sort of split the senior’s responsibilities and maybe he was not even there the full time. One night we went out to Rita and Dick Kinsella’s for dinner and she was having a difficult time with her pregnancy. I believe she miscarried that night and it was a very distressful experience for John and Bud, both single.
The next year, John and Bud did the MDU audit and I was assigned to be the senior on the Controls Company of America audit in Shiller Park on Chicago’s near northwest suburban side. This would be the December 31, 1959 audit. It was a great experience for me because of the many manufacturing units the company had. The company was also publicly held. Don Goss was the manager. I spent one early January week in Tempe, AZ auditing one of their divisions that made silicon computer chips. This was my first visit to AZ and it was very interesting. I also was assigned to the Libby, McNeill and Libby audit for the year ended June 30, 1960 as one of the seniors. I remember being sent up to one of their plants near Rochester, MN for a three day audit of that facility. Auditing Libby in late July and August was difficult at times because there was no air conditioning at night. Also there were no computers at that time and all our consolidation work papers (my job) were prepared by pencil on long spreadsheets.
Moving office to Harris Bank building-In 1960 AY moved its offices into larger quarters on the 20th floor of the Harris Bank building at the SW corner of Monroe and Clark. Up to that time L.B. McLaughlin was our managing partner. After we moved, C. R. (Rip) Miller was named managing partner for maybe a year or two. Rip was a very bright accountant who could add columns of numbers in his head very fast. He spoke just as fast. He was not a good manager. Then George Carracio, a relatively young audit partner, was named office-managing partner. Being a senior auditor now I did not spend much time in the office, because there was a continuous stream of audits that I was assigned to. The office layout was very different from that at 1 N. LaSalle. We had large open spaces/rooms where the staff had four long tables that served as the desks for about six staff on each side with a low barrier down the middle. All the Partners and Principals had perimeter offices and most shared a secretary with one other person. The audit managers had individual desks but out in the open of a large room. This was a bit controversial because sometimes there was a lack of privacy and one had to go to a conference room to talk to someone in private.
One of the reasons for moving was that we had just merged with a small CPA firm called Hall, Penny and Jackson. This firm only had about five partners and no promotable managers to carry on. Most of their clients were small companies that wanted mainly tax advice. They had one large publicly held client, Central Soya in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and I think that was the main reason for the merger. It was also in 1960 that McDonald’s decided to go public and their investment bankers insisted that they have one of the “Big 8” as their auditors. Bob Ettelson, a partner in our firm, knew one of the partners in the small firm that was doing their audit and they arranged for the small firm to keep a part of the audit, done at our direction, for several years. There were very few auditor changes among the large publicly held companies in those days and it was against professional ethics rules to solicit any business from another firm’s clients.
Promotion to Manager October 1, 1962-At that time a staff person like me could expect to be considered for promotion to manager after about five or six years. Because of my late start and missing most of my first year, I was not up for consideration in 1961. In 1962, however, I was promoted to manager, effective October 1, and that was a big deal. It meant coming off overtime, but there were many other perks and more money that made it worthwhile. I now had four weeks of vacation. One bad thing was that now that I had maybe twelve clients to look after for maybe six different partners/principals there seemed to be no end to the work and I often stayed late at the office, as did most other managers. I either went out to dinner at about 6 pm with some of the other guys and then worked till the 10:30 train or I worked straight thru to take the 8:30 train and ate at home around 9:30-too late to see the kids before bed time, but in time to talk with Sandy and watch the tonight show. Bed around midnight and then up at 7 am to catch the 8 am train that got in to Chicago around 8:45. As a manager, I was put back on the MDU account and the Controls Company of America account. These were both 12/31 yearends and it meant very busy January and Februarys, including a certain amount of travel.
I attended the very first national new managers meeting that AY ever held. Prior to that some of the managers were invited to attend the annual partner’s meeting at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. Our new manger’s meeting was held at the brand-new Drake Oakbrook Hotel in Oak Brook located in the near west suburbs of Chicago. It lasted all week and most of us thought it was too long. They shortened it to three days after that first year. These new managers wanted to see the town and those few of us from Chicago obliged. My roommate was Tom McDermott from Boston, who later became one of the top partners in the firm. I hardly ever saw him because he stayed out until the wee hours. I later got to know Tom fairly well and was just recently saddened to hear that he and another retired partner I knew, Tom Fritz, from Pittsburgh, were killed in a truck accident near Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern most city in the world (see our South American Cruise for more info on Ushuaia).
While a manager I picked up the habit of smoking cigars. I would smoke maybe 5 or 6 cigars a day. This was out in the open area for managers, but no one seemed to complain and one or two other managers did the same thing. I was partially inhaling the cigar smoke and at times I felt dizzy from it. After a year or two I stopped smoking cigars at work and cut way back to just special occasions. I even smoked some of them at home, but Sandy did not like that and after awhile I stopped doing that too.
Church-In those days Catholic parishes had geographic boundaries. As a result we were originally in St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, but soon learned that a new parish, Saint Thomas of Villanova, was being formed in Winston Park, Palatine and we were included in its boundaries. I suppose they needed all the families they could get and thus everyone north of Thomas Avenue and west of Arlington Heights Road, in Arlington Heights got put into this new parish. We also learned that naturally they did not have a church and one had to be built. Thus we started to help build our first of several new churches. Our Sunday masses at first were in the public school at the corner of Palatine Road and Rawhling Road. After a year or two we switched to having masses in the new Elk’s club located just east of Winston Park and about one mile north of Palatine road. Father Wall was the pastor and he was a very excellent priest. Sadly, he contracted cancer in a few years and succumbed to it. I cannot remember who succeeded him. Interestingly, we built the school first and then had Sunday mass in the school. The church was built after we moved into our second house so we never got to use it.
Schools-Because we were no longer in St. James Parish and our parish’s school was not yet built, our only option for grade school was Wilson School, a public K thru 5 school that was very close, say three blocks away and well within walking distance, even though the school was right on Palatine road a very busy highway. It is no longer there, having been torn down for a housing development in the late 1980s. Wilson was a good school and served all of us very well. In September 1961, Stephen went off to kindergarten. I believe it was just morning kindergarten because there was no all day kindergarten in those days. Thomas would start there only a year later. I think the boys went to Wilson for about 4 & 5 years respectively and then transferred to St. Thomas of Villanova for about two years. They had to take a bus to St. Thomas and I think they caught the bus on Maude Avenue about 2 blocks south of us. Kathy started at Wilson in 1965 and stayed there at least until we moved in 1968.
Elk’s Club-When the new Elk’s Club was built just north of Hasbrook and next to Highway 53, many of us joined because it was not too expensive, had good food and had a band on Friday and Saturday nights where we could go dancing. Many of our neighbors and friends were also members. That lasted from about 1962 to 1968. In addition being an Elk member was very useful in my travels around MDU country. There the Elk’s clubs were often the best place in town to eat, etc., I continued my membership until about 2000 when they stopped sending me renewal notices and we had little incentive to pursue it.
First new car-In 1962 we decided to buy a new car and with a growing family we needed a station wagon. They were the rage at the time. Z Frank was a large Chevrolet dealer on Devon Avenue in Chicago and it was there that we bought our first brand new car. It was a red station wagon and we really liked it. It had all the bells and whistles, but not air conditioning. Not many cars did have that in those days. I think we paid $3000 plus the trade in of the 1955 Chevy.
Home improvements-With the family growing we decided to convert the one car garage on the south side of our house into a family room. We found a local carpenter that did the work for a very modest sum. We left the front six feet for a storage area along with the door from the garage. This was a great addition and we certainly got our money’s worth. We also put a pull down stairway into the attic for additional storage. I put that in myself. Finally we put up a wooden fence in the backyard on the north side even with the house and then east to our lot line and south about ten feet more. In the corner we made a small garden (maybe 10’x10’), but I made the mistake of not taking up the sod and tried to cultivate it into the soil. As a result we could never get rid of the weeds. I built that fence myself, but maybe a neighbor or two helped also. The fence was 7’ tall with 4” treated posts that were sunk into the ground with a concrete fill. The 1×10” boards would weave around the posts with an alternating pattern. This gave us some privacy from the traffic on Chestnut Street that ran east/west. The only other thing we did in the house was build (I did it) a counter in the kitchen which came out of the wall and was one we could all eat breakfast and lunch at.
Visitors-One year in the early 1960s, Mom and Dad and Anne and Pep Weber came down to Chicago for a bankers convention and one day they came out to visit us. I remember sitting around our big (but old and used) dining room table and giving them Black Russians. We maybe had one too many, but they were still able to drive back to their hotel in the city. Another year Rita and Dick Kinsella came down to see us, but I don’t remember where they stayed. It might have been the Morrison Hotel in downtown Chicago. One night we arranged to have dinner with them and John Schornack and his friend Dick Valerus. We met at the top of the Morrison Hotel, which had a revolving bar. Our date was for about 9 or 10 pm, but we did not leave there until near midnight and then went to a big hamburger joint on North Avenue. We must have also gone to some other bars, etc. because we did not get back home until about 4 am. Donna Baker was baby sitting for us (we often swapped chores for baby sitting) and was trying to stay awake when we got home. She stumbled across the back yard to her house and Sandy and I both had a very slow day the next day. One of us had to get up for the kids (five of them remember) and I think I did that and then went back to bed when Sandy got up a bit later.
‘and baby (Karen Jo-September 30, 1962) makes six’-In the spring of 1962 we found out from Dr. Muench that Sandy was again pregnant and expecting in late September. September 30, 1962 was a Sunday. Karen Jo was born at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. There were no complications. No one from Minnesota came down to help take care of either Sandy or the kids. The neighbors were all just great and took care of the three kids for the first few days. We had Karen’s baptism a few weeks later and Helen and Phil came down to be her godparents.
Dad Theisen (Steve) dies-It was early in the morning, about 6 am, on Tuesday, March 19, 1963, when the phone rang and someone told us that Sandy’s Dad Steve had died from a heart attack at his house. He was getting ready for work on the early morning shift at the Cold Spring Granite Company, when he complained of chest pains and lay down on the sofa at his house and died. Steve had not been sick at all or on any medication. He did smoke, drank beer in moderation, was diabetic and somewhat overweight with a ‘healthy’ ‘beer belly’, as we were prone to say. We made immediate arrangements for Sandy to fly up to Minneapolis and someone met her there at the airport and took her out to Cold Spring. Harold and/or Alvin were stationed overseas and would have a difficult time getting back home in time for the funeral. Accordingly, the funeral was scheduled for that Saturday, which was maybe at least a day later than otherwise. There were wakes on Thursday and Friday evenings at the funeral home in Cold Spring. I flew up to Minneapolis on Friday and rented a car to drive out to Cold Spring early that evening. Everyone was sort of in shock because Dad Steve was only 62 years old. We all worried about Mom Rose because she did not drive and would obviously have to go to work for the first time at the age of 56. Few people had the kind of life insurance and other survivor benefits we almost take for granted today. Mom did get some social security benefits, but not enough to live on. Sandy and I drove back to Minneapolis on Monday and flew back to Chicago that same day. Helen, Ermie and Dave were all living in MN and took over the burden of helping Mom thru those difficult days. Luckily, Mom did get a job at the John Paul Nursing Home in Cold Spring and it did not take her long to learn how to drive and get her license. Sandy and I were forever grateful to our neighbors back in Arlington Heights for taking in the four kids for those six days.
Illinois CPA society-Sometime in the early 1960s I volunteered for committee service with the Illinois CPA of CPAs. I was assigned to the Annual Meeting Committee. As the name implies our job was to design and consult with the staff about the meeting location, the dates, the facilities and the program. In addition we had small duties to perform at the meeting. One of our first Annual meetings was in St. Louis. The firm supported this by picking up our expenses. I believe the next meeting was planned for the new Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI. I was opposed to our being so closely associated and patronizing of the Playboy image that I resigned from the committee. Janette Corchoran, the Society’s Executive Director, agreed with me and supported my decision to resign from the committee, but she was overruled. For some reason, however, Sandy and I attended the meeting. I remember that Lily Tomlin was the headliner that week and she put on a private opening performance for just the CPAs. A review of this performance appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the CPAs were panned for their unresponsiveness to her humor. My next committee assignment was on the Auditing Procedures Committee. I may also have served on the Public Service Committee. More on the CPA Society later.
Toastmaster’s Club-Many of us on the staff at AY thought we could use better public speaking skills. We also talked to a number of other Society members and together we formed an Illinois CPA Society Toastmaster’s Club. I met a number of other CPAs from other firms and companies through this activity and learned a lot about public speaking. We had meetings about once a month and they usually were dinner meetings starting at about 6 pm at some downtown restaurant. This lasted for about 6 years and fizzled through attrition and a lack of interest by younger staff members.
Skits at PPM meetings-About once a year the Chicago office had two or three day meetings outside the office on technical and other subjects. All the Partners, Principals and Managers (PPM) from all three departments, audit, tax and consulting attended. Somehow, I and a few other guys got involved with designing and putting on humorous skits for one night after dinner at these meetings. I wrote the script for several of these skits and participated in them. We often used costumes, masks and other things to help us make the point, usually making fun of someone or something. We always got a lot of laughs and accolades. We often needed to recruit partners to act out some of the parts and characters. They were a lot of work and year after year it became harder and harder to do them.
President Kennedy assassinated-On Friday, November 22, 1963 I was in our relatively new offices in the Harris Bank building, when we heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. Everyone was in such shock and grieving that we shut the office early and everyone went home to watch on TV. Lyndon Johnson, the VP at the time, was immediately sworn in as the next President of the US on Air Force One while flying back to Washington.
While watching TV on Sunday, November 24, I saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, the prime suspect in the assassination. It was live on TV, while Oswald was being transferred from the Dallas jail.
Sale of Bank and Dad Ley retires-In April 1964, when Dad was 67, they sold the bank to Ed Neisen from Cold Spring. I was not involved with any of the specifics of the sale so I don’t know if they got a fair price or not. I assume so after the fiasco less than ten years earlier. After the sale, I believe Dad stayed on for a short while, and then retired completely. He continued to do individual tax work from the basement of their house for several years, but eventually that phased out. We never talked about it, but I am sure the sudden death of Sandy’s Dad the year before and his own health concerns after his heart attack were major factors that he considered.
‘and baby (Patricia Marie-September 1, 1964) makes seven’-During the night of Tuesday, September 1, 1964, Sandy started having contractions and by morning we were at Holy Family Hospital in Des Plaines again with Dr. Muench. Sometime mid day Patricia Ley was born.
Patty, as we called her, was a good baby from the start and all the other kids loved her. The house was now getting full with three girls and two boys. Patty had to share a not too big master bedroom with Sandy and I for a year or two and then the three girls had to share one rather small bedroom. Shades of Sandy’s childhood. We were starting to think of a bigger house, but could not afford to do so just yet.
Proposed transfer to Minneapolis Office-In 1964 or 1965, we merged with or bought out a small firm in Minneapolis. I was asked to consider a transfer to Minneapolis because of my work on the MDU audit, which was located there, and because I had indicated a desire to transfer to Minneapolis when I joined the firm. I visited the Minneapolis Office and the Managing Partner, John Diracles, who was the owner of the firm we merged with, and he wined and dined me. I came back to Chicago and talked to other partners about the situation and, of course, talked it over with Sandy. Sandy was willing to make the move, but deferred to me because it was mainly about career possibilities. I declined the offer because everyone I talked to thought the chances of being promoted and doing better were in the Chicago Office. Shortly after I was promoted to Principal I was asked once more if I wanted to transfer and I declined for the same reasons. As I came to know John Diracles years later I know that my decisions were the right ones.
Offer to leave AY-During about the same time frame, I was contacted by an executive recruiter, who lived in the Hasbrook area, about considering becoming a candidate for the controller’s job at Skil Corporation on Chicago’s NW side. The job would pay $25,000 to start with, which was quite a big jump for me at the time. This was rather tempting, but I felt that as long as I was moving up the ladder at AY and was always learning something and getting new challenges, that I should stay put. Thus I obviously declined.
Vietnam War-During the early 1960s, the US was helping the government of South Vietnam fight the rebels called Viet Cong. The rebels were communists and were being helped by North Vietnam and China. The US government was very concerned about the domino effect of any victory by the communists in South Vietnam. In 1965 the first combat troops from the US entered to conflict. This war was very costly both in terms of human lives and money. It was very divisive in the US. It reached its peak in 1968 when the Viet Cong staged a very bloody attack on US forces. It was known as the Tet Offensive. There were large demonstrations on college campuses all over the US. The US did limited bombing of North Vietnam and there were major questions about whether the US really was doing enough to win this war. The war was a major campaign issue in 1968 and when Gene McCarthy, who was against the war, challenged and beat Lyndon Johnson in the NH democratic primary, Johnson withdrew his candidacy. The democratic convention in Chicago that year was extremely violent and Hubert Humphrey, from Minnesota, was selected as the nominee. The republicans picked Richard Nixon, who promised to end the war, and he won the election easily.
One night during the 1968 convention I was downtown having dinner with some New York partners who were in town to monitor the audit of the Sinclair Oil Company credit card operations, which I was in charge of. Just after dinner, we walked outside and saw bands of wild screaming young people being chased by riot police from Chicago. It was a scary night.
The war did not end until the US and allies withdrew in April of 1975 and Saigon fell to the Viet Cong and North Vietnam.
Commuting-When I had to go into our office in Chicago or I had a client in Chicago, I always took the train. We only had one car in those years and thus Sandy usually drove me to the train and came down to pick me up. Only when she knew she would not need the car did I drive to the station and park there. In the first few years the trains had coal burning engines and passenger cars that were extremely drafty and cold in the winter. Sometime in the early 1960s we got diesel engines and new air-conditioned passenger cars. We also had lounge/bar cars. Smoking was permitted, of course, until sometime in the late 1980s.
First invention, sort of-While commuting by train I and most everyone else would get a plastic cup of coffee with a solid lid on it. To drink the coffee you either had to remove the lid or tear a V shaped opening out of the lid. This procedure was extremely awkward and at times messy. It did not take rocket science to figure out that there had to be a better way. I developed several drawings for perforated lids and related designs that would make it easy to drink from the cup. Unfortunately I never followed through with my ideas to get a patent(s). Sure enough about five or six years later they started to have lids just like the ones I had designed. I checked with some lawyer friends of mine and they said to forget it.
Expressways-When we arrived in Chicago the only expressways were Lake Shore Drive and maybe Edens. There were plans made during President Eisenhower’s first term to build the Interstate Highway system and that included most of Chicago’s expressways. The last to be built as a toll road was the Northwest Tollway. These started to get finished in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When we drove to Minnesota it was US Highway 12 all the way-400+ miles and 12 hours, much of it spent behind a long line of tucks and cars going about 40 MPH on two lane roads through Wisconsin. Sometimes we took US 10 and US 14 part of the way and even back roads just to change the scenery and escape the long lines of traffic. Getting around in Chicago was a real chore.
Airports-When we arrived in Chicago the only real airport was Midway and it peaked its operations in 1959. O’Hare was under construction and in 1962 all operations transferred from Midway to O’Hare. Until then it was a real bear getting down to Midway. O’Hare was open for commercial flights in the late 1950s but it was rare to find a flight from there to where you wanted to go. Trains were still a popular way to go. Sandy would drive me to O’Hare and even pick me up there.
Sports-When Steve was 7 or 8 years old, in 1963 or 1964, he and Tom started Little League (AH version) baseball. I was an umpire from about 1964 to 1970, the end of Steve and Tom’s career in baseball. Steve went on and played in what they called senior baseball, which was a much faster game for kids just going into high school. I remember umpiring one game where the coach for one team got so upset and foul mouthed that we had to kick him out of the park and eventually forfeit the game to the other team. This sort of behavior was rare, thank God. The season was short, from about April 1 to July 1. We went to all the games even though they were at about 5 pm. That meant coming home early from work, but it was a relatively slow time of year for me so I could do it with a little planning
Outside of organized sports, we would go ice-skating down at Hasbrook Park, sledding and tobogganing out at Deer Grove Forest Preserve and playing tennis at Hasbrook Park.
Promotion to Principal-October 1, 1966-After being a manager for four years by 1966, I was considered ready for possible promotion to Principal. Other firms did not have this title, but instead had a less formal senior manager title. At Arthur Young, being promoted to Principal meant that you most likely would be considered for Partner in two more years. I learned in June or July that effective October 1, 1966 I would be promoted to Principal. Naturally there was a good increase in pay and a private outside office. Even a secretary to share with someone else. Being a Principal I now could have coordinating (meaning in charge) responsibility for small clients. At about that time we also learned that Massey Ferguson, the farm implement company, headquartered in Toronto Canada, was moving its North American operations to Des Moines, Iowa and I was to be the Principal in charge of the audit. This was to be a rather large audit requiring about 10, 000 hours of work, one of the bigger ones in our office. Don Goss was the Coordinating Partner, but it was understood that he would not play a very active role. Being that the audit was quite large they felt that it deserved to have a partner on it (more on this later).
University of Illinois Executive Development Program-Sometime shortly after being promoted to Principal, I was asked to attend the University of Illinois Executive Development Program in Champaign, IL the following summer. This was a six-week program and although we could come home on weekends, it was sort of hoped that we would only do so for a break half way through the six weeks. There were Saturday sessions. During part of the last week of the program Sandy was invited to come down and attend the spouses portion of the program, which she did. The program was very interesting and demanding, but much of it dealing with financial matters I already knew. When I got back to the office they asked me to critique the program and I don’t think they sent anyone to the program after that.
Storms-There were two memorable storms during this time frame. One was an ice storm in 1965. When we awoke that morning there was at least one inch of clear ice on everything outside. You could not drive a car on it or even hardly walk on it. The kids had a ball ice-skating all over. Many people were without power, but somehow we escaped that fate. Maybe because our development was one of the first with all underground wiring. We had power crews from all over the Midwest helping our local Com Ed crews. It took about one week before things got back to normal.
The other memorable storm started during the night of Wednesday, January 25, 1967. During the next day, Thursday, January 26, it continued and did not stop until sometime around 4 am the following morning, Friday. I was in Minneapolis at the time and there was no forecast of this snow. It turned out to be just a narrow band some 50 miles wide that hit Chicago. When I learned how bad it was I decided to get back to Chicago on Friday. The planes were not flying because O’Hare and Midway were closed. I took the Milwaukee road train. When we got south of Milwaukee and at about Glenview the snowdrifts became evident and we learned that a total of about 23 inches had fallen at O’Hare. I walked from Union Station to Northwestern station and there was no traffic on the streets. The expressways were completely clogged with stalled cars. When I got off the train in Arlington Heights there was no traffic so I walked without any winter clothing on all the way up unplowed Dunton Avenue and to our house, a total of maybe three miles. I was exhausted when I finally got home. The kids and Sandy were out front trying to shovel away the snow. It was almost impossible.
Trips-Prior to 1968 the only trips we took were back to Minnesota. We would spend our vacations and Christmas holidays back in Minnesota. We would spend a few days in Minneapolis with Rita and Dick because they had a big house and there was room for all of us. After Dad retired in 1964, it seemed like each time we would leave Minnesota to come back to Illinois, Mom and Dad and Mom Rose, would have tears in their eyes because we would not see them again for a number of months and neither we nor they knew when it would be the last time. This was difficult on Sandy and I too. It got worse as the years wore on.
Second new car-In 1966 we decided to get a new car. We eventually bought a dark blue Pontiac station wagon from Morton Pontiac in Arlington Heights. This car was a lot heavier than the Chevy. I believe we paid $3,000 plus the trade-in of the Chevy. Much to our later regret, this car did not have air conditioning either. It took forever for it to be delivered and I was concerned that the trade in value of the Chevy would not hold up. It did.
Youngstroms-Betty and Ray Youngstrom were our first landlords as mentioned above when we first moved to Chicago. They did not have any children so they sort of ‘adopted’ our family and were very generous to all of our children. We were very close friends and we invited them to all our family outings and holiday dinners, etc. Ray worked for Bowman Dairy until he retired in about 1985.
In the winter they went down to Florida as much as possible to visit his parents. Betty had cancer and succumbed to it in maybe 1985. By then they were living in a trailer home in Rosemont. We were with her at the hospital till the very end. We felt so bad for Ray because he had virtually no family. I do not remember if Betty had any family. We never met them. Ray’s only and older brother, Bob, lived in Davenport, Iowa, but frankly he was not very kind to Betty and Ray. After Betty’s death, we continued to invite Ray as before, but he was very lonely. Eventually he found and married a wonderful widow, Casey. More on that later.