Vita Sua in a Bygone Mobile
Part 13 in a series: Relative success, a Southern gentleman and New Orleans society enter our story.
Previous installments: 1, 2 , 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
Mobile Bay Times
It turned out that AR's uncle was a good friend of G.T., a senior partner of E.F. Hutton, headquartered in their New Orleans office. At AR's behest, his uncle contacted G.T. and we now had a live one.
G.T. was a storied character. A native Virginian, in his young days he had been a lowly clerk with Beer &Co., a
New Orleans firm. He was not one to sit and be content with scratching
figures on his
He dabbled in the
cotton market. So
successfully, that, I
was told, he
market one year in
the early twenties
and emerged with a
$10 million dollar
No, I can't verify
although I did
read a yellowing clipping from a newspaper of those days
which indicated that the facts, if not the exact figures,
were substantially correct.
In the twenties, of course, the maximum income tax rate was 10 percent. Assuming the ten million dollar figure was correct, G.T. emerged form his epic adventure with at least nine million dollars.
However much he made, he was now, quite obviously, a very wealthy man.
Beer and Co. had been a small, successful New Orleans-based firm for many years. G.T. doubtless added considerably to his fortune when he merged the firm with Hutton. I assume that he received a substantial interest in the latter firm when the two became one.
G.T. was the epitome of a Southern gentleman. A smallish man, he was courtly, usually deferential to all, although I was to find he had a great temper, and, with the Southern gentleman's exaggerated politeness to ladies.
His great ambition was to be accepted as an equal by the old New Orleans families. He often remarked that, despite the fact that he had lived in the Crescent City since 1910 and had played by all the rules of that ancient city's social circles, many New Orleanians still considered him an outsider.
He had certainly contributed his share to that society. He was in the forefront of every civic endeavor and I believe that he had once been king of Mardi Gras, an honor distinguished chiefly by the amount of money it took to acquire it. G.T. probably bought his way into the upper tier of New Orleans society.
In all events, money or no, he belonged there. He was indeed, in every way, the gentleman. He could have been transported back a century and played the part of Louisiana planter to perfection.
Our contacts were now being made by telephone with
G.T. and his aide-de-camp, J.P.
Our meetings now were fevered ones and we had more of them at the Battle House, the better to soothe our nerves with liquid refreshments.
We used the public telephones at the Battle House to make our contacts.
While the boys
sat in the
beer, I made
at a time
for us to call
to the phone
booth. As I sat
in the booth,
talking to J.P., who came along but HCL, probably the town's greatest male busybody and rumor-monger.
He looked at me with a questioning stare and then went into the lounge where he spied the other boys sitting at a table. He invited himself to sit with them and was there when I returned.
"You boys are up to something," he said. "These meetings and phone calls, does your Mr. X know about these?"
We assured HCL that nothing was up, that we were just relaxing after a trying day. He knew better, although I'm sure he didn't guess just what our secret was. In any event, his opinion of XX just about matched ours and we harbored the hope that, in deference to his distaste for that gentleman, he might, for once, keep his tongue in his mouth.