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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 17 in a series: Such a mess. But it cleans up nicely.

Previous installments: 1, 2 , 3 , 4567, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.

By A.D.
Mobile Bay Times
The partners finally became convinced that theirs was a hopeless mission. Having bought enough time to arrange for two men to come down from New York and another to come over from New Orleans to help man the Mobile office for a time, they advised us at the end of the week that we were free to leave.

We were not able to open our new office until August 20, so we had a hectic two weeks ahead.

We were directing
the construction of
the office and working
might and main on the
phones, contacting our
customers and
pleading with them to
swap their allegiances
to us at our new home.

Now this was not an
easy task. Probably 95
percent of these
people had never
changed an account
from one broker to
another. In most of
the cases, SR held their stocks, many were on margin and it was no small thing to ask that they sign a paper to swap everything over to EFH, a firm which was familiar to only a few of them.

All the while, X.X. and his new helpers were on the phones, urging them to keep their accounts where they were.

Now the one great asset we had in this business was the loyal clientele we had built up over the years. In this respect, having been in the business the longest time of any of EFH's new employees, I was particularly vulnerable.

I am happy to say that within six months, I was able to convert about 90 percent of my accounts and almost 100 percent of the more valuable ones.

But it was indeed a trying time. Had just a few key accounts refused to move, it could have taken two or three years to replace them and regain the level of business I had attained at the time of our departure.

I'd like to think that my sterling personality and that of my cohorts was chiefly responsible for our success. Realistically, our clients' opinions of X.X. probably had just as much to do with it.

We were now ensconced in our new offices, with BH and I installed as co-managers. For a time, however, until SR would officially release us, BH and I could be co-managers in fact only. Mike W., the manager of the New Orleans EFH office, had to be the manager of record. Mike didn't stay with us every day, but he had a room at the Battle House and spent many days in Mobile, thus meeting the exchange requirement that an approved manager be in charge.

SR relented within a month or so and BH and I were formally installed.

G.T. arranged a glittering cocktail party in conjunction with the opening and we drew a large crowd of our customers and friends to the Andy Jackson Room of the Battle House.

The old gentleman was in fine fettle, charming and impressing all the Mobilians with whom he came in contact.

Preparing to leave a bit early, he engineered a scene which I've always remembered. After shaking hands with all about him,
he took his
straw hat off and
with it in his
hand, danced a
little jig,
reached over
and kissed his
son Eli on the
temple and left
us. It was that
act of filial love,
usually reserved
for daughters,
which I can't
forget. He loved
that boy.       
(Next: Even with
X.X. in our wake,
all is not smooth sailing. Soon we're "in deep trouble.")