Pages 25 & 26
There was but one recourse for us, to go where we could live as inexpensively as possible while I regained my strength and health and then search for suitable employment during a depression. Like so many others, our savings, represented by equities in stocks and bonds, had vanished in the stock market crashl We stored our furniture in Madison, loaded our car with such belongings as we could take, and drove to Huntsville, Alabama, where numerous relatives of Charlotte's lived, chiefly her sister and his band, the Johnstons.
Golf and other exercise gradually rebuilt my strength during the ensuing three years there. Betty and Valerie married local boys and later bore a girl and boy respectively. Victor, Jr., graduated from Brown University and secured employment in New York City. We remaining three moved to Riverside, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago where I had again become associated with American Airlines as its Personnel Director under its president, C. R. Smith, a former associate Vice President of mine and a good friend. There Victor, Jr., was to meet and marry June Rothchild the daughter of near neighbors, and Virginia to meet and later to marry Harold A. Pinkert in New York, when we moved there from Chicago.
From an employee personnel total of 1400 people, at the time of rejoining American, it grew to over 14,000 after we moved headquarters to La Guardia Airport, New York, and at the time of my retirement in 1948. The Personnel Department originally started with one secretary and myself grew to hold more than 260 when I left it. What I had been enabled to accomplish would not have been possible if Charlotte had done less in help and support when the going was not easy.
Three occurences injected bitter with the sweet; a deep, scarring hurt, a gross injustice, and a bitter disillusionment:
Betty, unwilling to condone her husband's conduct, secured a divorce, and with her little Betsy came to live with us in Riverside. After learning stenography, she helped me start an Employee Credit Union of eight members of with $750 in assets which at this writing has over $9,000,000 in assets. Her loyalty and unselfishness kept her working when she should have been under a doctor's care, not complaining of pain until it was too late to avoid a ruptured appendix from which she failed to recover, although over a hundred employees offered their blood for transfusions and one in particular from United Airlines. Betsy was to take her place in our lives as we raised and adopted her.
While at Huntsville, a Syracuse bank carrying my loan on securities owned at the time of the market crash suggested I transferred such funds into higher grade securities which I heartily approved and so wrote them. At Chicago I was rejoiocing that the market was recovering and I could envision the eventual return of our lost assets when I received notice from local lawyers, representing the Syracuse bank, that I was being sued for a considerable sum they claimed due them. Hurrying to Syracuse I learned that the officials of the bank formerly dealt with had died or resigned and their successors had sold me out. To cover up such action they claimed they had been informed I had moved without notifying them and showed me a letter in an envelope addressed to Atlanta, Ga., and marked "Not here, return to sender". What a reprehensible, contemptable act for a supposedly reputable business. I had to make repayments over a period of years and then start rebuilding our finances.
Finally, I had still had a host of friends in American Airlines. One such a claiment caused my leaving the Personnel Department some months prior to my retirement and taking on the duties of Assistant to the President until retired. I had opposed certain policies he wanted instituted and without my knowledge quietly went outside the company to secure a Personnel man to replace me. He later died without disclosing his peculiar brand of "friendship".
Perhaps T. A. Macauley's friendship illustrates the kind I understand. He was always helpful, considerate, generous and thoughtful of otheres, especially his friends. Just recently, while driving from Key West to his California home, he took the time to make us a visit here in St. Petersburg. We had not seen each other for more than twenty years, but "Mac" had not changed from our days of close pilot association. During our reminiscing he said, "Vic, do you realize we are the only two left of the original Curtiss group of pilots at Newport News, and Memphis: Hill, Lees, Carlstrom, Johnson (Al), Acosta, MacGordon, Cogswell, you and me?" I had to acknowledge that I'd thought of that as I am given to reminiscing of the old days.. It was good to see "Mac", hear of his family.