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Motorists pull in to fill up at Billups, selling gas for 18 cents a gallon. photo courtesy of USA Archives
Uncle Henry

Some of Mobile's latter day Southern belles in crinoline grace the entrance to the old Roxy Theater at the local premiere of "Gone With The Wind." photo courtesy of USA archives
Mobile Bay
Building Relationships
Attorneys at Law
Vita Sua in a Bygone Mobile

Part 14 in a series: Real stakes. Cold feet. Dice in hand.

Previous installments: 1, 2 , 3 , 4567, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12 and 13.

By A.D.
Mobile Bay Times
A few days later we met the EFH principals face-to-face.

They came to Mobile in G.T.'s chauffeured Cadillac, and set up headquarters at the Battle House. They arranged for a conference room and the five of us trooped over, one by one, to avoid suspicion, after the market had closed.

G.T. and J were apparently impressed with their
prospective recruits and another meeting was set for a Saturday morning at
G.T.'s summer
home on the beach
near Biloxi.

Truth to tell, the
old man had a bit
of the pirate in his
soul. He was one of
the country's
foremost sailors so I
suppose it came
naturally. He owned
a magnificent
frigate, the
which I was
told was one of about a dozen on active service in the country. It was an expensive hobby, since G.T. kept a four-man crew on duty year round to man the vessel.

G.T. doubtless reveled in the plotting in which he was a major participant. With his vast resources, the opportunity of adding a small office in Mobile, clearly was of little financial consequence and, particularly in view of the sour state of the market in those days, I'm certain he would not have gone along with the scheme had dollars and cents been his sole motivation.

We all repaired down to G.T.'s magnificent home on the coast.

The courtly gentleman greeted us all warmly and ushered us out to his spacious lawn where we were seated at umbrella-shaded tables.

He introduced us to his son, E, a man of about 30, who was to follow in his father's footsteps and himself earn a considerable reputation in the brokerage business. E was then the heir presumptive to his father's mantle as a managing partner.

The agreement was made at that meeting. Our current salaries were to be matched by our new employer and we were now to begin making plans for the move. The date was left up to us.

I did want to wait a bit. It was now well into July, my production at SR was well ahead of my draw and I had planned to get XX's okay to draw down some money at the end of the month. Although I certainly was entitled to it, there was considerable doubt in my mind as to whether they would have paid it had they known of the plot.

I asked XX for the money and he wrote New York authorizing it.

By now, XX should have known that something was up. Even during market hours, groups of two or three of us would gather and discuss our plans in whispers. So I was counting the days until the end of the month and the arrival of that check. I don't recall the exact amount but it was a substantial sum.

The last Saturday of July, a bit short of the end of the month, I came to town in a driving rain, checked the post office box, found my check. I deposited it first thing Monday morning and, after two or three days -- time for it to have cleared
-- was ready to
proceed with
our plans.

I should say
almost ready.
As the day
neared for the
parting with
my employer
of ten years, I
began to have
sober second
After all, I
was making a
good living,
was able to support my dearly loved family very well and save money for the future. I was a fixture with my present firm and, although I wasn't being paid the full amount which I earned, I was still doing well.

SR was a comfortable firm for which to work. New York left us virtually alone, which explains why XX was able to become such a tyrant. But it had its advantages since we weren't being continually inspected and probed by outriders from the New York office.

Had it not been for XX, I would have had few complaints. I liked the managing partners and the firm's relaxed way of doing business. I had no desire to become a top producer, or, I should say, not enough desire to make the sacrifices it required.

So, one afternoon, I told the other four plotters that I might not go through with our plans. I ran into a hornet's nest of opposition. The other four were ready to go with no reservations. I was a pivotal figure since I had the top production in the office. Had I stayed, the plot likely would have collapsed.

Seeing the determination of my co-conspirators, I dropped my objections and agreed that, right or wrong, I was with them.

The die was cast.

G.T. was pressing us to set a date.

On the pretense of taking a few days vacation, I traveled to New Orleans to meet the key personnel there. My visit was conducted in considerable secrecy. No one, except a few top employees, were told who I was or what my mission was.

I learned as much as I could about the EFH operation and returned to Mobile.

(Next: XX's charm and generosity strange and oily. AR twists the knife.)