To the editor:
I was planning on writing a letter about Saturday night on Nevada’s main street in 1950. I needed a 1950 phone book to research my memory, but my resource assistants at the library, Beth and Linda, told me they were packed away and would not be available until construction was completed.
So, I started thinking about two prominent businessmen of that era, Carl Irish and Glen Newton. Carl Irish owned and operated the Nevada Poultry and Creamery Company and Glen Newton owned and operated the Glen Newton Lumber Company and had yards in other communities. I should mention that Glen Newton was Janet’s father and my father-in-law.
What’s interesting here is two things. First, they provided employment to many people, and second, they were very promotionally- and community-minded. Glen had annual dog shows where youngsters would bring their dogs and win prizes. This was a big event in Nevada. He provided a market for farmers’ corn during the Great Depression. Carl provided butter and eggs to many families when times were tough.
Now the story gets interesting. During the war years and after, Carl took occasional business trips to Chicago. He would board the streamliner City of Denver or Los Angeles, which would always stop in Nevada for Mr. Irish. The reason for this was he always took many cases of eggs and butter and the train crews all knew they would share in Mr. Irish’s generosity. In Chicago he also supplied hotel bellhops, maids and staff with butter and eggs. You can imagine the good service Mr. Irish received. Carl and Glen were old buddies and occasionally he accompanied Carl to Chicago.
How well they were treated was proven to Janet and me when we accompanied Glen to the National Lumbermen’s Convention in 1962. Janet’s mother was in a wheelchair at the time and was unable to go. It was late October. Two things happened that I will never forget. First, President Kennedy was in town to give a speech the next day. We saw him come down the stairs at the hotel on the way to some place. A large crowd had assembled, but what I remember was his big smile.
We stayed at the same hotel as the president, might have been the Drake, I can’t remember. Glen said another hotel across the street had a nightclub with an ice rink that he and Carl used to go to and said he would like to take us. I said we had better call for a reservation, but he said that wouldn’t be necessary. At the time, I wondered about that. The nightclub was on the second floor and when we stopped at the maitre d‘s desk, he said, "Why hello, Mr. Newton. It’s been a long time since you and Mr. Irish were here." He and Glen had a nice conversation and asked all about Mr. Irish. He then took us down front to the best seats in the house. I told Janet that butter and eggs bought these seats.
The next morning, the Chicago papers announced that President Kennedy had become ill and had returned to Washington.
We departed the next morning from the hotel to the convention center for the lumbermen’s breakfast meeting. The keynote speaker was the great senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen; an outstanding speaker with a gravely voice who could inspire your emotions as he talked about this great country. He brought the crowd to their feet at the conclusion to his remarks, proud to be an American. In the 50 years since, nothing has topped that. Later that day, we caught the plane home.
A few days later, in the late afternoon, President Kennedy addressed the nation. Russia was installing ballistic missiles in Cuba. We could be on the brink of war with the Soviets. Fortunately, President Kennedy kept his cool. Instead of bombing Cuba, he installed a blockade and after some saber rattling on both sides, Khrushchev backed down. As far as I am concerned it was President Kennedy’s finest hour. I am sure we all wonder what might have been if President Kennedy had not gone to Dallas that morning.
Unfortunately, our current group of politicians doesn’t hold a candle to the politicians of that day.