Nolan Getaways – 1996
Travel by Lewis & Betty Nolan
Jan. 22-24: Madison & Liberty Corner, NJ
Aug. 4-7: Essen, Germany
Feb. 7-11: Rio Rico, AZ
Aug. 18-19: Nashville
Feb. 12-13: Nashville
Sept. 8-10: Atlanta
Feb. 21-22: Nashville
Sept. 24: Jackson, TN
Feb. 28: Nashville
Oct. 23-24: Starkville, MS
March 16: Old Waverly, West Point, MS
Nov. 3: Old Waverly
March 17-19: Liberty Corner, NJ
Nov. 14: Knoxville, TN
March 29-April 10: Gulf Shores, AL
Nov. 23: Old Waverly
May 8-9: Starkville, MS
Dec. 4-5: New York
May 27: Old Waverly
Dec. 16-18: San Diego
June 16: Old Waverly
Dec. 19-Jan. 2, 1997: Gulf Shores & New Orleans
June 28-July 7: Gulf Shores
Dec. 26-27: New Orleans
July 21: Old Waverly
July 27-29: Atlanta
Page Updated May 2, 2008
Jan. 22-24, 1996 – To Madison & Liberty Corner, NJ
I flew from Memphis to Newark, NJ on Northwest and the flight arrival was delayed, as usual. My Avis rental car reservation was also screwed up, as usual. The counter staff tried to put me in somebody else’s rental Cadillac. With the company bean counters looking over my shoulder and expense reports, I could hardly afford to show up at company headquarters driving a Caddie.
I spent the night at the Madison Hotel at Madison, NJ, near the Schering-Plough headquarters and had a so-so swordfish steak for dinner. It was an unusual disappointment since that dish is among the hotel’s best most times. I usually stay at the hotel while on corporate business.
The next morning, I met with my pals Dick Kinney, a corporate vice president and head of corporate community affairs and government relations, and Linn Weiss, also a vice president and head of corporate communications, to discuss an under-wraps project for the communications involving a big takedown in the operations of my division, the Schering-Plough HealthCare Products consumer business operations. Thankfully, l learned that the discussed cutbacks had been slowed down and scaled back for now. I knew my job that I loved as vice president of divisional communications was on the line.
I drove from Madison to nearby Liberty Corner, home of the headquarters of HealthCare Products (HCP) and met with the operation’s Family Fun Team. I also spent time with Melissa Faber (who reported to me as manager of divisional employee communications) to review our plans for 1996. I spent some time with Tina Antico of our Liberty Corner staff, who was looking peaked and thin after undergoing chemo treatments for breast cancer.
I reviewed my report on my 1995 personal performance with my boss, Senior Vice President Bob Raub, who greatly improved my attitude for the trip by giving me very good marks. His thoughtful observations and steady kindness further impressed me as to what a very fine man and good boss he has been for me. I later made the rounds of the leased building HCP has in Liberty Corner, cementing my cordial relationships with many members of company’s management team there. I usually deal with these and other executives in New Jersey by long distance from our Memphis offices and over our videoconference facilities.
I left Liberty Corner and drove to the Newark Airport’s Marriot Hotel, where I stayed and enjoyed an excellent dinner. The next morning, I worked out on a Nordic Track in the hotel’s fitness center and then swam 500 yards in the indoor pool. The workout gave me a good feeling, especially since the banked snow around the airport and along the highways was 4 feet high in places. I flew back to Memphis that afternoon with lingering foreboding in my psyche about the bad things that were soon going to happen to me and many of my associates in Memphis. There was no doubt in my mind that a bunch of us were already on the chopping block and the only questions open were how many and when.
Oddly, I considered the trip to New Jersey to be quite productive for me even though the primary reason I had booked it long before (to attend a Coppertone press conference in New York) had been cancelled, perhaps prematurely due to a perceived lack of media interest.
To Rio Rico, AZ Resort and Tubac Arts Festival
Feb. 7-11, 1996 – To Rio Rico and Tubac, AZ
Betty and I flew from Memphis to Phoenix on Northwest Airlnes’ frequent flyer miles to take a winter break in the desert. After a hassle over my car reservation with Hertz, we finally rented a Mustang convertible (a white one) for the three-hour drive from Phoenix south to Rio Rico, AZ in the high Sonoran desert. It was a delightful drive, with the car top down and the temperature in the low 80s, a wonderfully warm respite from the Memphis winter.
We arrived at the Rio Rico resort about 3 p.m. and decided to just laze around for the afternoon. I picked up some fast food and beer at a nearby store. Our spacious room in the resort was equipped with a small stove and refrigerator. I swam 20 laps in the resort’s great pool with water heated to 80 degrees.
The next morning, I played golf on the Rio Rico resort course, which is rated one of the best in Arizona. I shot a 55 on the front nine and a much better 46 on the back nine. That afternoon, we drove a few miles and went to the annual Tubac Arts Festival just down the road. Betty bought a kitchen trivet from the same California potter she bought one from at the festival last year. We also purchased several pottery, Mexican Sun God faces to attach to our pool fence back home. We had a good time poking around the festival and its many artists’ displays and arts and crafts shops.
We enjoyed a fine dinner at a hole-in-the-wall, Greek-Mexican café down the road at Tucumcari, which was recommended by the New York Times. I had lamb shank and the baked spinach dish called spanekopeta. Interestingly, l had to go to a classic desert bar next door for some carryout beer and margaritas so we could have a bit of alcohol to drink with our meals.
After eating, we drove our Mustang rental convertible around some of the hillside homes at Rio Rico that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I later swam 40 laps (1,000 yards) at the resort pool.
The next day, we drove with the convertible top down to Tucson’s Desert Museum, passing through on the way what seemed to be a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint along the Interstate highway. It was staffed by several vans and a half-dozen uniformed officers. Some were wearing flak jackets. Later, I read in a newspaper that the Tucson office has the highest numbers of illegal aliens nabbed in the country.
At the Desert Museum, we spent some time in the Hummingbird Cage. But the cotton wadding put out by the staff seemed to distract the hummers from picking out loose threads from our sweaters as they had on a previous visit four or five years ago. The tiny birds were oblivious to the tourists and seemed intent on gathering nesting material.
On our drive back from the museum to our resort, we stopped at a huge pit mine operated by Asarco where enormous steam-shovels dig copper ore out of the ground. We also stopped at the Green Valley retirement community, home to several golf courses and where condos sell at prices ranging from $40,000 and up and patio homes start at $180,000. The average age of residents is 70, we were told.
Back at Rio Rico, I swam another 40 laps in the resort pool. That night we had an excellent meal at the hotel restaurant. I went for the grilled salmon with prickly pear cactus barbeque sauce.
On Saturday, I played another round of golf on the resort course, which had been designed by the famed Robert Trent Jones 25 years ago. A teaching pro based at nearby Green Valley proudly told me that the Jones course was by far the best in the area. He said it was rated No. 17 in all of Arizona. The difficulty rating off the White Tees was 67.9, which seems low to me giving the long distance at that range.
As part of a promotion, l sampled a demonstration golf driving club and hit a few practice balls. However, the club did nothing for my accuracy or my distance. Just signing up for the tryout supposedly will earn me a free round good at a future visit.
Betty and I drove about 20 miles to the border with Mexico at Nogales and paid $4 to park in a guarded and fenced lot adjacent to McDonald’s that is less than ¼ of a mile from the border crossing. We walked into Mexico without delay and bought some jewelry for Betty and my adolescent niece, Kate Nolan of Sacramento, some ornamental ironwork for our pool area back home and a few bottles of tequila and vanilla.
That evening we had a fine meal at the hotel restaurant, where I went for filet mignon with béarnaise sauce. It happened that the Sigma Chi fraternity from the University of Arizona held a formal dance at the resort that night. One of the university’s football coaches, Heath Bray, was there to ride herd on the party. I learned that he once played quarterback at Arizona under Rip Scherr, now coaching football at the University of Memphis, We visited briefly with Heath and found him to be a nice guy. Ironically, he had also long ago worked for Jackie Sherrill, the football coach at Mississippi State whom I once played golf with at Old Waverly.
On Sunday, I swam another 20 laps and we drove to the Tubac Golf Resort, where we checked out the accommodations for a possible visit sometime in the future. We tried to see the interior of the famed San Xavier Mission on the outskirts of Tucson, but a religious service was underway and the crowd spilled out the front door.
So we drove north from Tubac to Phoenix with the convertible top up since the temperature was cool and there was intermittent rain. We flew home that afternoon, arriving in Memphis at 7 p.m. It was one of our greatest getaway trips.
To Nashville for Election to TAB Board of Governors
Feb. 12-13, 1996 – To Nashville
I drove to Nashville in a rental Taurus sedan from Fleetmark, the car rental office of Lewis Ford, where I have purchased several cars. My company – Schering-Plough - does a lot of business with Lewis Ford and as a Schering-Plough executive I get a special rate of $100-above-invoice prices. I spent the night at my usual spot in Nashville, now known as the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza across the street from the Legislative Plaza building of state government. It was formerly operated under the Hyatt Regency name in the same building and what seemed to be much of the same front desk staff.
I was in Nashville to attend the annual meeting of the largest pro-business lobbying organization in the state, the Tennessee Business Roundtable (which changed its name to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce several years later). I was elected to the TAB’s Board of Governors, which was quite an honor for me since most on the board were CEOs of their large businesses across Tennessee. I was Vice President of Communications of Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, a business based in Memphis that had national responsibilities plus some international elements for Coppertone, Dr. Scholl’s and a brace of OTC products.
I had the opportunity to say hello to Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist, long a friend of Schering-Plough, and pledged my company’s contribution of $1,000 to an Internet Network Education the governor’s Secretary of Education, Jane Walters, is pushing. Jane is a retired high school principal in Memphis and is a fellow member with me of Evergreen Presbyterian Church.
I also pledged $1,000 in Schering-Plough contributions to the Tennessee Business Roundtable’s Foundation that longtime Middle Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper will lead. I was able to socially circulate with members of the Shelby County legislative delegation at a reception that evening. Both Senator John Ford and Rep. Carol Chumney (both Democrats who had been supported by PAC contributions by Schering-Plough’s Political Action Committee upon which I serve) kindly agreed to help the company with a drug formulary issue Schering-Plough was having with state government.
Later that evening, Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals’ managed care managers Mac Wright of Atlanta and Greg Meadows of Baton Rouge and I repaired to the Crown Plaza’s Pinnacle Restaurant for a salad, a bottle of Chenin Blanc wine and a long discussion about Schering-Plough’s legislative strategy. The most important issue before us was how to best deal with the omission of our drug allergy drug Claritin from Tenncare’s Managed Care Formulary. Tenncare is a state program that pays for a large percentage of health care for the needy citizens of the state and is an important source of revenue for physicians and the drug companies.
I retired to bed about midnight. The next morning, I talked by telephone with Linn Weiss, head of corporate communications for Schering-Plough at corporate headquarters in Madison, NJ, about our communications strategy regarding regulatory action concerning the potentially harmful pseudoephrine compound in our company products.
After talking to Linn, I repaired to the Legislative Plaza to circulate among members of the Legislature before driving back to Memphis that afternoon.
Back to Nashville for Health Policy Task Force
Feb. 21-22, 1996 – To Nashville
I again drove from Memphis to Nashville in a rental Taurus sedan from Fleetmark to meet with the Tennessee Business Roundtable’s Health Policy Task Force. I had been appointed to the TBR’s board of directors as part of my government relations activities on behalf of my company, Schering-Plough HealthCare Products.
The task force meeting was sparsely attended, which was a surprise considering the amount of money state government was spending on healthy policy matters. Among the few professionals there was Schering-Plough’s Mac Wright, a former pharmacist who was doing regional lobbying work for the company from his Atlanta office. He insisted on meeting personally with Rep. Dan Byrd of Memphis, who was chairman of the House committee that oversees health legislation.
I helped set it up but stayed out of the meeting between Mac and Dan. But I did visit with Reps. Tim Joyce and Mike Kernell, both Memphis Democrats, at the Crown Plaza that evening where I attended a Memphis Chamber of Commerce-sponsored reception. Among others I spent time with at the reception were Rep. Joe Kent and his wife Becky (who works with my wife, Betty, through the state Board of Education), House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and contract lobbyist Betty Anderson. I took Rep. Karen Williams of Memphis to dinner at the Crown Plaza’s revolving restaurant, The Pinnacle, that evening. At the time, government relations executives like me were allowed to spend virtually unlimited amounts on legislative dinners. (The law was later changed to greatly reduce that practice, which had the side-effect of trimming lobbyist travel and entertainment expense accounts).
While at the hotel, I made time to use the hotel’s spa equipment to ride a stationery bike for 3 miles and to walk on an automated track machine for 1.5 miles.
I visited with Governor Sundquist’s chief of staff, Peaches Simpkins, and staffers Tory Sallee and Daphne Kirksey before driving back to Memphis. Ironically, Peaches, a former contract lobbyist, married Irby Simpkins, publisher and co-owner of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper. I had served as a paid consultant to Irby more than a decade or so earlier and he had unsuccessfully tried to entice me away from The Commercial Appeal (where I was Business Editor 1978-84 before resigning to join Schering-Plough).
(Ironically, I thought I was at the top of my game in that period. With a friend in the governor’s office and other friends well situated in both legislative bodies and with very good relations in federal government and the Memphis press, I worked a lot of hours and made more income than I had ever thought possible during my days as a newspaperman. Little did I know at the time that the shifting tectonic plates of the pharmaceutical industry and my career would soon make a huge change in my corporate communications career and future life. Years later, I realized that these were indeed my glory days and I looked back on them with much satisfaction.)
To Nashville for Governor’s Reception for Chamber
Feb. 28, 1996 – To Nashville
I flew to Nashville on writer John Grisham’s Citation 3 Jet, one of three planes chartered by the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce for a special reception for Memphians at the Governor’s Residence. The host was Gov. Don Sundquist of Memphis and the idea was to honor Shelby County’s Legislative Delegation.
As chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs relations committee, I was one of the ones who came up with the idea and worked on its execution. About 150 Memphians paid to attend the reception. Most of the city’s legislative representatives and governor’s cabinet members attended. While helping put it together, I had committed a Schering-Plough corporate contribution of $3,000 to help fund the expense of the state providing an intern for the state’s Commissioner of Personnel in Memphis.
At the reception, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit with the Governor, his lovely and charming wife Martha (Governor Don was previously a Member of Congress and his daughter was a marketing manager at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products); Lane Rawlins, president of the University of Memphis; Gus Denton, senior executive of the National Bank of Commerce; and my guests employed by Schering Laboratories, lobbyists Mac Wright and Greg Meadows.
To Old Waverly for Decent Round of Golf
March 16, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my pals Curtis Downs and Tim Parks for a splendid day of golf. I shot a 90, Curtis shot an 85 and Tim shot a 105. Temperatures were in the upper 70s and the blue skies were sunny.
I had a chance to talk to the club’s primary developer and owner, George Bryan, a longtime resident of West Point and top executive of the Bryan Foods subsidiary of Sara Lee Corp. (whose CEO was his older brother), about the possibility of getting the CEO of Schering-Plough, Bob Luciano, and another S-P executive or two, down for a round of golf. George was all for it, but the idea died when Luciano later cancelled a scheduled trip to Memphis for an employee communications meeting. I didn’t know it at the time, but the cancellation was a signal that he was about to retire after leading Schering-Plough to annual sales over $8 billion.
I had a good time eating and drinking up in the clubhouse bar most of my $75 member’s spending minimum for the fiscal quarterly period with my pals. I got home at 8:30 that night.
Cut to Pieces by New Divisional President Bryce
March 17-19, 1996 – To Liberty Corner, NJ
I flew from Memphis to Newark, N.J., on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, due to the scheduling of an important meeting to finalize my communication plans on behalf of my employer, Schering-Plough HealthCare Products.
Our division – now based at Liberty Corner, NJ - was planning to announce soon a recommendation to transfer the manufacturing of the company’s Over-The-Counter (OTC) products from the Memphis plant to a sister plant in Kenilworth, N.J. Optimistic projections were that 170 manufacturing jobs in Memphis would be eliminated and that $4 million in pay roll expenses would be “saved” due to the headcount reduction. Unspoken there was an ever-present fear that many more jobs in the manufacturing of our Coppertone and other suncare products were also at risk.
I had been bought into the planning process under a strict agreement that I would not disclose the plans to anybody in advance of the announcement. It was a tough assignment for me, especially since it raised the long-standing prospect that my own position would be among those cut. It had been clear that since the recent naming of Rudolfo Bryce of Peru as our division president that the future of the Memphis-based operational management team was uncertain at best.
In retrospect, it should have been more certain to those of us in Memphis that our days were numbered ever since the former president of our division, a great executive and fine man by the name of David E. Collins, had departed Schering-Plough once his five-year employment contract had expired. Making it worse was the fact that the former CEO and board chairman of parent Schering-Plough Corporation, Robert Luciano, had retired early, making the way for his hand-picked successor, Richard Kogan, to assume the top leadership post. Kogan had previously served as president of the Pharmaceutical Operations arm of the company and had done little to make those in the Consumer Operations segment feel we were viewed as vital to the success of the parent corporation.
My fear – which was shared by many in the upper management of the consumer side of our business – was that Kogan had some old scores to settle and that we would soon pay the price.
After arriving in Newark, I rented an Avis Corsica and drove to the Somerset Hills, N.J. hotel near our divisional headquarters at Liberty Corner. There were remnants of a recent snow banked up in shady areas. The unyielding embrace of late winter helped to make me uneasy about the environment for my mission in shaping the communications strategy of our looming, corporate up-ending.
During the drive from Newark To Liberty Corner I reflected back on my first trip to Schering-Plough headquarters in Madison, NJ in 1984, on a corporate Lear jet with company executives Mike Pietrangelo and Howard McIntyre of Memphis. I was then in my last days as Business Editor of The Commercial Appeal newspaper and was in the process of joining the old Schering-Plough Consumer Operations to take over some of the communications and community affairs responsibilities of Howard. He was retiring after long and distinguished service with the company as president of its in-house advertising agency.
Mike was Howard’s boss and then the No. 2 executive at the global business operation. Consumer Operations then had about 10,000 employees around the world with such subsidiaries as Dr. Scholl’s and Maybelline as well as some of the leading cosmetics and personal care products companies in Great Britain and Germany. It also operated worldwide manufacturing, distribution and sales of Coppertone and other suncare products plus a raft of OTC medications.
Shortly after that first trip on a corporate Lear Jet, I started serving as Vice President of Communications for the company’s global Consumer Operations and was in charge of press relations, government relations, community affairs and certain employee activities. I wasn’t aware at the time that I was stepping into a deep-seated rivalry between the Consumer and Pharmaceutical arms of Schering-Plough, with consumer products (Coppertone, Dr. Schools, Correctol, St. Joseph’s Aspirin and other OTC brands) accounting for more than 40 percent of company sales and a large share of the profit income.
At corporate headquarters In Madison, NJ for my first visit, at times I felt like a prize bull being dragged around a country fair as Howard and Mike arranged meetings for me with various bigshots. But working with the talented corporate staff of a great company with worldwide sales in the billions of dollars sounded both very interesting and very exciting. It proved to be a wonderful opportunity, with a mind-boggling share of challenges and rewards that grew in both frequency and size over my 12 years with the Company.
During my 12 years with Sachering-Plough, my responsibilities as a vice president expanded as I steadily learned more and others retired. However, that ascendancy was offset as my role in the parent corporation shrunk as more and more of the business success and the company’s emphasis shifted away from consumer products to pharmaceutical drugs.
I was loathe to admit it, but in my changing role in the evolving company over my 12 years there, I seemed to be like a naval deck officer who had been promoted to a joint command of a sinking ship. I must say that my job change and move from newspapering into a new career in corporate communications fortunately proved to be a grand adventure for me with rewards that were both financial and psychic.
At the decisive morning meeting in 1996 with Bryce in a conference room at Liberty Corner, we were joined by some of the key management executives of the HealthCare Products division including Steve Gilbert and Scott Schmeichel of Human Resources, Jack Stewart of the Law Department and occasionally on an in-and-out-basis by John Clayton of the Scientific and Regulatory departments Rich Carlsen of Finance.
Bryce was expectedly gentlemanly and reasonably courteous during our lengthy session, but it was clear to me that his mind had been made up, that he was in synch with CEO Kogan’s plan to greatly reduce the role of our division in corporate matters and that he didn’t particularly care how I felt about the path he had chosen. In response to the dragging of my feet concerning the direction he wanted to go and my comments about Memphis being a Southern city where tradition counts for much, Bryce asserted that the late Abe Plough had been dead for a long time and that “our focus must be on the future.” I was chopped up pretty bad during the meeting that seemed to stretch on forever. I had nowhere to hide. Bryce demanded that my big plans for communication to the press and city’s political and community leadership be drastically cut back to a scale just above “minimum.”
We didn’t finish until nearly 7 p.m. and I was ordered to have a revised communication plan on Bryce’s desk the next morning. I later met Linn Weiss for a drink back at the Madison Hotel, where I spent an extra night after pushing back my return flight to Memphis by a day to give me time to adjust the plan to Bryce’s specifications. That evening, I had an excellent dinner of filet of sole, and afterwards drafted new plans on how we would tell employees and the outside world about our impending reduction in employment and operations.
Early the next morning, I met at corporate headquarters with Linn Weiss and Dick Kinney to review the revised plan. I also met briefly with Corporate Counsel Joe Connors, whose office in Memphis had been next to mine before his promotion and transfer to Madison.
I caught an 11:30 a.m. flight from Newark back to Memphis. I was somewhat shattered and shell-shocked by the sense that I had been present when the final nail in Mr. Plough’s coffin had been hammered in by the new Schering-Plough management and the days of Memphis being a “shadow headquarters” of the corporation were over. I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, as much as I thought it was a bad decision and a bad deal for everybody.
Break at the Beach to Ease Corporate Stress
March 29-April 10, 1996 – To Gulf Shores, AL
I scooted out of my office at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products’ Operational Headquarters in Memphis a little early (at 3 p.m. compared to my usual exit at 6:30 or 7 p.m.) so we could drive to Gulf Shores on a Friday afternoon and evening. Betty and I loaded up our Ford Taurus station wagon with our vacation clothing and gear, including our 10-speed bicycles.
After all the stress caused by my new marching orders from the changes in leadership of my employer – and the impending layoffs of 170 of my co-workers in Memphis – I was in need of a break. We had a decent drive through the length of Mississippi and across part of Alabama to Gulf Shores, where we have a small condo on the beach. We arrived at 11 p.m.
Our first day there, a Saturday, was a work day. We cleaned mildew off the wall ceilings, repaired and cleaned the window blinds and worked with Shelly Long and the maintenance staff to take corrective action regarding some missing lights, repair of a roof hatch and need for re-painting.
I played golf with three nice guys (Bob Stanton, an attorney from Big Rapid, Mich., Harold Luysk of South Carolina and Harold’s friend Dick, a Minneapolis teacher). They were sharing a time share condo. I shot an 84 (good round with a 41 on the front nine holes and 43 on the back nine), with 9 pars, 8 fairways in regulation and 3 greens in regulation. I had only two double bogeys and 6 bogey holes and took only 33 putts. It was a fine round for me, on a course with a rating of 70.4.
The next day, our longtime friends Marge and Marty Pendleton drove over to Gulf Shores from their retirement home in Biloxi, MS. We walked down the beach from our condo about 1 ½ miles to The Spot, where we had a nice lunch then walked back to the condo. Marty complained about one of his hands still hurting from recent surgery for his arthritis.
As has often been the case when we’ve been in Gulf Shores, my boss Bob Raub in New Jersey tracked me down by telephone to bring me into the management loop dealing with an impending recall of our laxative product, Correctol. I always bring a laptop computer to the condo to deal with such communication emergencies. I had a residential phone line installed in the condo after tiring of spending so much time on a pay phone for several years .
On Tuesday, I played 9 holes of golf at the Park Course with the same three guys I played with earlier in the week. We didn’t have the use of the full course due to greens aeration. I shot a 49, well off the pace of our earlier round.
My deputy at the Memphis office, June Davidson, called me at the condo to get my thinking about some local press and political matters he was handling in my absence.
To Starkville for MSU Dean’s Advisory Board Meeting
May 8-9, 1996 – To Starkville, MS & Old Waverly Golf Club at West Point
I drove a rental Ford Crown Victoria from Fleetmark at the Lewis Ford dealership to Old Waverly, where I had a nice lunch and hit some golf balls before heading to nearby Starkville, MS and my alma mater, Mississippi State University. At MSU, I checked into the Butler Guest House (a compact, motel-like facility adjacent to the football stadium) and met for the balance of the afternoon with the Dean’s Advisory Board of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Board members had a nice wine reception and dinner on campus that evening. Then I met with English Professor Dr. Clyde Williams and several students for a late beer at a Starkville restaurant-saloon. The next morning Clyde, one of the students and I enjoyed breakfast together in the campus grill. Then I met with Interim Dean George Rent of the College of Arts and Sciences, a professor serving in the post until a permanent dean can be hired to replace Dean Jimmy Solomon, a great guy and smart academician who had relocated to a college in Georgia.
After meeting with Dr. Rent (whose charming wife is president of Betty’s alma mater, Mississippi University for Women at nearby Columbus), I broke away and drove back to Old Waverly, where I played golf with fellow Memphian and Mississippi State grad Lee Welch, a distinguished attorney and fine golfer who had played quarterback at MSU years ago. Joining us were Physics Professor Sandra Harpole, a club member, and Bryce Griffith of the Class of 1991. My score must have been undistinguished since I didn’t write it down. I drove back to Memphis that evening, arriving home after 10 p.m.
Old Waverly Golf Course in Terrible Shape
May 27, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly to meet my longtime friend and fellow member Curtis Downs, who lives in Memphis but conducts much business in Mississippi. It was raining when I left Memphis and still raining at the midpoint of the drive when I passed through Tupelo, MS to the southeast. But the weather was better in West Point, where it was partly cloudy with the temperature in the low 80s.
The usually splendid golf course was in terrible condition on this day, a very unusual occurrence. Much of the fairway turf had been killed by a cold winter. Club management had spread sand and sprigs of grass to remedy their showcase course that is often ranked in America’s Top 100. For the first time I’d ever seen it at the posh private club, it was permissible for players to move their golf ball in some of the fairways so they would have a decent lie in healthy grass.
I shot a 94 and was very glad of it since I had only a poor 49 at the turn, after the first 9 holes. I returned to Memphis, where I was called (as expected) by my new boss, Vice President Ray Oneidas, to inform me by telephone that I was being “riffed” (Reduction in Force) from my job at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, effective May 30. I was joining the RIF ranks of a lot of good company people including my former boss, Bob Raub, who got the bad news and a heave-ho himself a couple of weeks ago as part of sweeping corporate changes in personnel and mission by new management. At least I thought that under the circumstances, I was being treated decently, being awarded early retirement benefits and other considerations because of my past contributions to the Company.
Speeding Ticket After Golf at Repaired Old Waverly
June 16, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
It being Father’s Day, our son Casey had flown from Southern California to Memphis for a visit with me and Betty. My son and I drove to Old Waverly on a hot day with clear skies. The temperature climbed into the upper 90s.
I was pleased to see that the course condition had largely healed from my last visit about three weeks ago. But there were still a few signs of the winter grass kill that lingered.
Casey and I played with Brad Downs (who shot in the low 80s) and his friend, Breck (who shot in the 70s). I shot an 87 and Casey shot an 89. Brad is about the same age as Casey and is the son of my good friend and fellow member Curtis Downs.
For the first time despite frequent 300-mile roundtrips over the years to Old Waverly, I got a speeding ticket (for doing 81 mph in a 70 mph zone), about 15 miles south of Memphis on U.S. 78 on the drive home.
Job Loss Equals More Vacation Time at Gulf Shores
June 28-July 7, 1996 – To Gulf Shores, AL
It was a tough way to get extra vacation time, but the loss of my job as Vice President of Communications for Schering-Plough HealthCare Products in late May meant that I suddenly had a whole lot more free time on my hands for vacation. My severance package provided for early retirement benefits and included a tidy number of stock options plus a year’s pay, which combined with my savings and potential of another career elsewhere left me in less bitter spirits than might have otherwise been the case. (I had delayed an opportunity to join Guardsmark, Inc. until several weeks later pending my “breather” to let the toxins from a sad close to my 12 years at Schering-Plough disappear and to give me some time to recharge for a new career).
Betty and I left our Memphis home at 9 a.m. on a Friday to spend more than a week at our condo on the beach at Gulf Shores. The timing of our departure was arranged so we could miss the worst of the southbound traffic at this time of year. We were not able to leave a day early, on a Thursday, because of a commitment I had to attend the opening of a Carrol Cloar Exhibit at the University of Memphis. The opening of the celebrated artist’s retrospective and my attendance had been planned for several weeks in advance of my RIF from Schering-Plough.
Cloar was a late and great artist from Memphis whose work hangs in the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Memphis Brooks Art Gallery and other major collections. I had been responsible for the exhibition show at the University of Memphis because of a conversation I had with his widow, Pat Cloar, in the middle of 1995.
Pat, a fellow activist in the local Democratic Party, later and generously rewarded me for helping her get additional recognition locally for her late husband. She presenting me with the much appreciated gift of signed poster prints by Carrol and four other contemporary artists who contributed artwork for the inauguration celebrations of Democrats President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. (I got for free what sponsors at the $50,000 got as “thank you’s.”
The signed poster art by Carrol (of a rural Arkansas scene) hangs in our living room. Another famous, signed poster by modern art master Roy Lichtenstein (of a scene in the Oval Office of the White House), hangs in our son’s bedroom of our home.
At the university opening of Cloar’s artwork retrospective, may pal College of Communications and Fine Arts Dean Dick Ranta, University Gallery Director Leslie Luebbers and Pat Cloar were most gracious in their remarks about my support of the university over the years.
Betty and I had a nice day for our drive south to Gulf Shores. It was clear and hot. I slept in our Taurus station wagon for a couple of hours while Betty drove, thanks to the drowsy side effect of a muscle relaxant medication that had been prescribed for my TMJ condition. TMJ is a temporary muscle disorder that keeps the jaw from closing properly. It is thought to be stress related and therefore a consequence of my sudden departure from my otherwise happy career at Schering-Plough.
The weather at Gulf Shores was hot and sunny. On our first full day there, Betty and I bicycled for 10 miles and spent part of the day trying to repair a ceiling fan in our condo. We also located my missing VCR, notified Kaiser Realty and Meyer Property Management of some repairs needed at our condo and went shopping.
The Gulf of Mexico was great for a swim, with water temperature about 84 degrees. We rode 15 miles on bike paths along the beach and through the State Park the next day. We also sunned at the beach and I swam a little in the Gulf.
On Monday, July 1, Betty spent most of the day painting the lattice carpentry work in our condo’s kitchen area. I played golf at the State Park course, shooting an 86 while walking all 18 holes. I shot a 42 on the front 9 holes and 44 on the back 9. The next day, we took our bikes on the 45-minute ferry ride across Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island. There were a half-dozen riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles on the ferry with us, led by a man who turned out to be a vacationing dentist in his 50s who had recently purchased his 1991 model Sportster 2000 for $8,800. Another rider was an attractive blonde woman who had her own Dyna Glide lowrider.
Betty and I rode our bicycles around Dauphin Island. I happened to turn off the road onto a sand trail and had a wreck when my narrow gauge tire couldn’t roll. We had nice lunch at the Seafood Galley on the island and rode the ferry back across the bay to Fort Morgan. The temperature was in the mid-90s. So it was hot and sunny but we still enjoyed a very good excursion that took most of the day.
On Wednesday, while Betty painted kitchen cabinets in our condo, I played golf at the State Park Course. I shot a 48 on the front 9 and then a 41 on the back 9 due to a couple of birdies. I chipped in for a birdie on Hole No. 16 and had several one-putt pars. The next day, I took it easy and organized my genealogy book chapters (see http://lewisnolan.com for information about “Nolan-Miller Family History”) while Betty sunned on the beach and went shopping. Casey arrived about 2:30 p.m. after driving down from Memphis in his red Ford Probe without any problems.
Casey and I played the Woodlands golf course the next day. He had a fantastic front 9, shooting a 37. I was terrible, shooting a 46 on the front 9 and then a 49 on the back 9 after losing 6 golf balls in the process. However, Casey’s wheels fell off on the back 9, with him shooting a 45 for a total score of a decent 82. It showed that a score in the 70s on this course is definitely within his reach. But on this day, despite a goodly number of excellent shots, he followed my lead and lost a number of balls in the woods.
On Saturday, our last full day in Gulf Shores, Betty and I cycled 12 miles. I spent much of the afternoon in the condo reviewing on the laptop computer the manuscripts of 18 chapters (646 pages) of my book, “Nolan-Miller Family History.” Meanwhile, Betty and Casey spent a good part of the hot day on the beach. Unfortunately, waves kept the jellyfish stirred up on this day so swimming was pretty much out of the question.
Extra Golf at Deserted Old Waverly with Casey
July 21, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my son, Casey. It was a nice day but for some reason the great course was deserted. My golf was mulish and I shot a 91 for 18 holes. But the play was so fast that we decided to play 9 more holes, when I shot a lousy 51. Altogether, we played 27 holes in 4 hours and 40 minutes even though we stopped for lunch at the turn.
Olympic Games in Atlanta with Betty and Casey
July 27-29, 1996 – To Atlanta
I drove a rented Ford Crown Victoria to Atlanta with Betty and Casey after being lucky enough to win in the lottery three tickets (which cost us $48 each) to the track and field competition in the Atlanta stadium for the 1996 Olympic Games.
We spent two nights in the dumpy Crown Inn at Cartersville, GA, paying $100 a night for a room that probably rents for $40 when the Olympics aren’t on. We drove to a nearby college campus to catch a shuttle bus to downtown Atlanta, where we would spend most of the day and the evening in and around Olympic Circle.
We found – as did tens of thousands of other sports enthusiasts – that the track and field events in the Olympic Stadium were spectacular. We saw many of the top athletes of the world compete in their events.
Intermittent rain, heavy crowds and long lines due to an explosion on July 26 (the day before our arrival) that killed 2 and injured 100 in Centennial Park made for a gigantic security hassle. But once we got into the big stadium and were lucky enough to have seats in a shaded end-zone area, the thrill at watching the Olympians compete was awesome. In turned out that we bumped into a few of Casey’s high school pals at the events. We had a chance to buy some tickets to a water polo and other venues from scalpers, but passed. But we did purchase a few souvenirs in the way of caps and medallions.
Following are excerpts from a travel journal I wrote about our trip, under the topic “Remembrances of Lewis Nolan about The Centennial Olympics, Atlanta, 1996:
Sunday, July 28, 1996 – The sprawling town of Cartersville is 35 miles north of Atlanta and about 15 miles from one of the official park-and-shuttle lots, at Kennesaw State University. The cost of parking, which included rides for ticket holders on new buses borrowed from transit authorities across the country, was a surprisingly low $10, covering all three of us.
It was a 25-top-30 minute bus ride to the Olympic Ring the next morning. We arrived about four hours before our 3:15 p.m. session and decided to walk around rather than buy tickets for other events from the many scalpers (we came close to buying $20 tickets to the water polo tickets since Casey plays the sport at UVA). There wasn’t much to see since authorities had closed Centennial Park following Friday’s bombing that killed one and injured more than 100.
The luck of the Irish ran out on this Sunday morning, since there was an almost constant drizzle. Some of the dozens and dozens of street vendors delayed their openings, but we trudged around the wet, downtown area and walked perhaps 4 miles to the Olympic Stadium. Interestingly, the brand new stadium is right next to the Fulton County Stadium, where the Atlanta Braves play baseball. The older stadium will be demolished – a wasteful shame it seemed to us – and the new Olympic Stadium will have about 30,000 of its new seats removed to accommodate the Braves. What cities will do to enrich the itchy-footed team owners and prostitute themselves – and their taxpayers – in the name of national image. (Months later, Atlanta was slammed by newspaper columnists and politicians around the world for “over commercializing” the Olympic games, a half-baked charge I thought to be unjust and downright silly.)
We poked around the souvenir stands and I bought myself the briefest of Speedo racing swimsuits, emblazoned with the Olympics logo. With my jumbo-sized belly overhang that rewards decades of beer drinking, I could understand Casey’s request that I wear the swimsuit in our backyard pool only when he is not home. The suit reminds me of the roomier Speedos I wore 30-plus years ago when I was a distance freestyler and butterflyer at Sacramento State College and swim coach/lifeguard at Sutter Lawn Tennis Club in the California capitol. The new one will help me recall my glory days as an Olympic “wannabe” in the 1960s when I swim laps now in our home pool in Memphis. Unlike Marlon Brando, I was never a “contenda.” I was only fast enough to make the college team and didn’t do particularly well in our meets with other colleges and universities.
Oddly, we spotted a couple of Casey’s former classmates from Memphis University School, who were earning some extra money as Olympic facilities service workers and getting to see some of the action for free. One runs cross country for the University of Tennessee and one plays football for Southern Methodist University. In all, we waited under umbrellas for about two hours before we finally got through the security checks (metal detectors and package rummaging) and into Olympic Stadium.
Once in the stadium and in our shaded seats, the fun started. And it was sensational. We stayed pretty much glued to our seats from 3 p.m. until just after 9 p.m., watching a combination of finals, semi-finals, preliminaries and medal ceremonies. The great athletes we saw included Michael Johnson in the 400; Carl Lewis in the long jump; Charles Austin in the high jump; and Lance Deal in the hammer throw. Events included those plus the 110 meter hurdles, the women heptathlon’s javelin and discus (unfortunately missing the injured Jackie Joyner-Kersee), the women’s 400 hurdles, the men’s 800, the women’s 400 and the women’s 5,000 meters. Among those we saw getting medals were American sprinters Gail Devers and Gwen Torrance (the flag raising and National Anthem produce a lot of tears at these events) and a skeletal Ethiopian woman who won the marathon in a gentle rain that morning.
Betty brought a large American flag with her from Memphis to Atlanta and the Olympic Stadium. We had a good time waving it when the American team did well. There was a pocket of 100 or so Germans seated not far from us and they had their own flags and guttural cheers. Just a few rows down from us were a pair of Finnish supporters, with one young woman bedecked with her country’s flag and looking all the world like a Tooth Fairy. Of course, the sheer weight of the home field made it a highly partisan, pro-U.S. crowd. The visiting athletes also got respectful applause when they were introduced over the loud speakers. But the place went wild with Michael Johnson when he ran away from the field and when Carl Lewis qualified on his final long jump. It seemed like all 82,000 in the stadium were on their feet, applauding and cheering those great performances. Lots of chants of “USA, USA” rang through the stadium.
The cool rain of the morning and early afternoon made the temperature surprisingly balmy, never getting above the high 70s. That is amazing for Atlanta in August. There was a gentle breeze wafting through the upper levels of the stadium where we sat. I think sales of Budweiser and Coco-Cola (two of the sponsors) probably suffered because of the mild temperatures. But the prices might have also been a contributing factor: 20 oz. Cokes went for $3.25, 16-oz beers for $4.25, hot dogs for $3 and grilled chicken sandwiches for $4.25. We carried in our own liter bottles of water along with some peanuts. We took only sparingly of the concession foods.
We left the stadium just after 9 p.m. when our late session ended. We walked a mile or two to a well-organized queue for the shuttle buses. Another 30-minute car ride and we were back at our college parking lot and just a little later back at the motel. We were thoroughly pleased with our good fortune at getting to be part of the 1996 Olympics with great seats, bearable weather and the best track and field athletes in the world. What a treat.
We stayed up past midnight watching the television coverage of the late events and the recaps of some of those we saw.
Monday, July 29, 1996 – In no hurry, we slept late and got underway about 9:30 a.m. It turned out that Interstate 75 passes by one of the great Civil War Battlefields, Chickamauga. This was a must stop for me since it was the site of one of the great Confederate victories. We were just in time to see a re-enactment duo demonstrate the firing procedure for a 12-pound Napoleon canon. They did not fire the old gun, but gave us a good show-and-tell about the hot work on the battlefield. Artillery and rifle fire resulted in 34,000 casualties at Chickamauga and a rout of the federals by the Confederates, who were fatally slow in carrying their momentum on to Chattanooga, where the fortunes of war were shortly and tellingly reversed a short time later.
After driving the seven-mile tour and taking photos of the canons and state monuments (the wealth of the North yielded much grander statues than those provided by the impoverished South) at Chickamauga, we headed back to Memphis and arrived home before 7 p.m.
While short, this was truly a fabulous trip that we all enjoyed immensely.
Maiden Work at Guardsmark with Germany Trip
Aug. 4-7, 1996 – To Essen, Germany
My beginning career at Memphis-based Guardsmark, Inc., one of the largest security services firms in the world, got underway when I flew on the direct Northwest flight from Memphis to Amsterdam, The Netherlands in Business Class (what wonderful luxury paid for by my new employer). The overnight flight left Memphis at 8:30 p.m. With me were senior Guardsmark executives John Clark, head of Sales, and Bob Overman, head of Human Resources.
It was a 9 ½ hour flight. With the help of several glasses of wine and a prescription muscle relaxant plus a big, reclining seat with a footrest, I was able to sleep for 5-to-6 hours on the flight over the Atlantic Ocean. It was necessary for me to get some shut-eye since I had been taking antibiotics for several days to fight off a late-summer cold.
We arrived in Amsterdam shortly after noon on a Monday. We were transferred to a commuter plane for an hour-long flight to Düsseldorf, Germany. The plane flew low enough so that we had good views out the windows of Holland’s canals and Germany’s Ruhr and Rhine River regions. We were met at the airport (in a temporary facility due to a tragic fire earlier in the year) by personnel with Raab Karcher, a German-based security services firm interested in a possible business combination with Guardsmark. Predictably, that firm’s ranking personnel who met us had a spic-and-span van for transporting us and were on their most hospitable behavior.
We were taken to the nearby industrial city of Essen, 30 or so minutes down the famed German roadway called the Autobahn. There, we were taken to Essen’s Sheraton Hotel, which was like other Sheratons I’ve visited in the U.S., without the usual gift-sundries store in the lobby. It was about 4 p.m., so the three of us American executives had the balance of the afternoon to walk around the downtown area. We bought some gifts for the homefolks (for my wife, Betty, some stainless steel kitchen implements manufactured in Germany) and enjoyed a couple of locally brewed beers at an outdoor café. Tellingly, a waitress at the café was very rude, refusing to bring me any bread since I did not order a meal.
Surprisingly, I found that very few shop personnel in the downtown area spoke English. I was later told that Essen is off the main tourist traffic pattern so there isn’t much reason for English. The three of us later enjoyed some OK tasting burgers back at the hotel. I went to bed early.
At 10:30 a.m. the next morning, several of Raab Karcher’s senior executives met us at the hotel, where we were joined by our boss, Ira Lipman (chairman and CEO of Guardsmark), his son, Josh Lipman, and Ira’s outside corporate lawyer, Sandy Krieger. The three of them had flown over to Germany from London that morning. They were met by an air-conditioned limousine, a rarity in these parts we were told.
We all were taken for a tour of a fairgrounds-like area where Raab Karcher has the security contract for trade shows. The parent Vega Headquarters chairman is also response for the 24-hour security for subways in Essen.
By now, I was feeling terrible with a head cold.
After touring, we drove on to Castle Hugenpoet, a ritzy hotel in a renovated, stone fortress more than 1,000 years old, complete with walls that were about three feet thick. There, we met briefly to strategize Guardmark’s position in an upcoming meeting with Raab Karcher. We then napped for an hour before the extremely long working-session got underway that evening.
The session started with cocktails and socializing between the executives – who all spoke excellent English. In attendance was the Secretary of State of the West German government, telling us that this – an alliance with an important American firm - was really a big deal that was in the works.
We had a very long, formal dinner in an elegant but hot room at Castle Hugenpoet. By this point I was feeling truly rotten. I slipped out when the mutual toasts of liquor finally ended about 11 p.m. But not long after, I was awakened from sleep in my luxurious hotel room by Ira, who called to tell me that his wife, lovely and gracious Barbara Lipman, had suffered a stroke in London. She had been at a play with their youngest son, Benjamin, and was taken to a London hospital.
I quickly located son Josh at the hotel. He was having a beer with Bob Overman in the lobby. By this point, the Guardmark fast-response team went into action and made intensive efforts to charter an airplane for Ira and his son. Ira was amazingly controlled and cool under the circumstances of all the stress he was under. Our efforts were made difficult by our lack of knowledge about the ins and outs of the way things work in Germany and by that country’s noise abatement program that had shut down all the airports in the area for the night.
We finally secured a charter plane at a somewhat distant airport so Ira and Josh departed for London at 3:15 a.m. I slept for a few hours once they pulled out of the hotel, driven by a Raab Karcher employee. The firm’s executives went way out of their way to be of help in this family emergency in which our CEO had a huge, personal stake.
Due to the Lipman family emergency, our group’s scheduled meetings at Raab Karcher the next morning were cancelled. But my new pals John Clark, Bob Overman (Iongtime senior execs at Guardsmark) and I did take a brief tour of the Raab Karcher headquarters, where their execs were as nice to us as they could be. We were then driven to the nearby airport at Düsseldorf, where we flew on a commuter KLM plane to Amsterdam. We had just enough time to buy a few souvenirs (Belgian chocolate for me to give to my wife back home) at Schipol Airport and board a big KLM jet flight direct to Memphis. It was only an 8 ½ hour flight since the tailwinds were with us. The Business Class ride in the front of the plane was most welcome to me because of the effects of a bad cold. I slept a lot during the flight, but occasionally awakened and managed to input much information about my new Guardsmark projects on a snazzy laptop computer the Company had purchased for my use before the trip.
To Nashville for Al Gore Campaign Fundraiser
Aug. 18-19, 1996 – To Nashville
I drove to Nashville in a rental Taurus sedan on a Sunday so I could attend (at the personal cost of a $500 campaign conntribution) a fundraiser hosted by Presidential candidate Al Gore and his wife, Tipper. The event was in the city’s Bell South building and a follow-up entertainment extravaganza was at the fabled Ryman Auditorium downtown, where several well-known country singers sang their stuff.
I had the opportunity to visit with several Memphians who came to Nashville to support Tennessee’s favorite son Gore, including Myron Lowery, a former TV newsman now working for Federal Express and serving on the City Council, and lawyer and local Democrat Party chairman David Cocke. I also met with Gore’s Washington staffers Winston McGregor and Roy Neel. At the Ryman, I sat by myself and must have looked “suspicious” since a fit-looking man about 35 happened to sit next to me. I suspected he was a member of Gore’s Secret Service detail.
The Crowne Plaza downtown was where I stayed. On Monday, I drove back to Memphis and the Guardsmark headquarters office, where I work as Vice President of Communications and Government Relations. My longtime, personal relations made over the years with Gore and others in politics are viewed as a company asset.
To Atlanta for Security Industry Trade Show
Sept. 8-10, 1996 – To Atlanta
I flew to from the Memphis airport to Atlanta on Delta Airlines Sunday afternoon so I could help represent my employer, Guardsmark, at a big trade show put on by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) industry. Guardsmark, where I served as head of advertising, public relations and some headquarters functions, had one of the finest displays in the convention hall. It was staffed by 18 of us from Memphis and other locations. I stayed with other Guardsmark executives at the Marriot Marquis on Peachtree.
There were about 10,000 attendees, including representatives of major security services firms and various companies that make and sell a mind-boggling array of security devices. At times it looked like a James Bond movie weapons display, with a vast assortment of bugs and videocameras that could be placed out of sight or hidden in special briefcases. There was even an armored Jeep – probably designed for some tinhorn dictator in the Third World.
I enjoyed a good dinner in the hotel with fellow Guardsmark employee and computer guru Dennis Wilson. I happened to discover some errors in a pre-publication copy of Guardsmark’s “Security Diary”, a promotional record book given to clients and others in the security industry. My Guardsmark associate John Clark had apparently tried to “bury” the errors, earning the wrath and verbal whip of our boss Ira Lipman.
I used a free upgrade I had earned from Northwest Airlines and was able to fly first class back to Memphis. In all, I thought the security show was interesting, but counted it down as another “lost weekend” since I had also represented Guardsmark at a Saturday morning session at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis for an meeting dealing with arson. I was quickly learning that there essentially is minimal amounts of “private time” for executives at Guardsmark, who are expected to adjust their schedules to accommodate evening and weekend work and to be constantly at the beck and call of Ira Lipman.
To Jackson, TN for Governor’s Task Force on Arson
Sept. 24, 1996 – To Jackson, TN
I drove a rental Taurus sedan about 100 miles from Memphis to Jackson, TN to represent Guardsmark at the Governor’s Task Force on Arson at Places of Worship. My boss, company founder and president Ira Lipman, had asked me to explain to his friend Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist that he was not able to personally attend due to the recent stroke of Ira’s wife, Barbara. Ira served as co-chair of the Task Force, which was formed following the racially inspired bombings of several churches in Tennessee.
My seat was placed next to that of Governor Sundquist and he introduced me to the audience with some kind remarks. There with me were my fellow Guardsmark managers Neil Soloman and John Longworth, both of Memphis. At the conclusion of the session, I drove back to Memphis and gave longtime City Councilman Bob James a ride to his Central Gardens home. He was the founder of the Crime Stoppers citizens organization in Memphis. We talked about some of his 28 vacation trips made to various Elder Hostel gatherings in recent years.
Back to Nashville to Meet Relocating Houston Oilers
Oct. 3-4, 1996 – To Nashville
I drove from Memphis to Nashville in a rented Taurus sedan to represent Guardsmark at a reception honoring Guardsmark and other purchasers of skybox seatings at a new stadium being built for the relocating Houston Oilers NFL football team. The team is expected to make their move in 1998. There were about 125 persons – mainly those with either very deep pockets or who worked for companies with deep pockets and a need for bigtime entertaining – present for the Oiler owners’ appreciation party. Among those I knew were former Memphis bankers Doyle Rippee and David Roddey who now work in Nashville.
The swanky reception was catered by the Hard Rock Café in downtown Nashville and held in a big tent put up alongside a big Hatteras yacht docked at a downtown dock on the Cumberland River. I happened to strike up a conversation with Tommy Smith, the son-in-law of the Oilers’ owner Bud Adams. I found Smith to be a surprising partisan of the Old South and its ways, which was not a big surprise given the Oilers’ coaching criticism by some of its black players.
I stayed at the Crown Plaza across the street from the Legislative Plaza and bought a quart of beer from a next-door deli while I was there.
After enjoying a big breakfast at the hotel, I drove back to Memphis, where I followed up my conversation with Smith by sending him, courtesy of Guardsmark, a complimentary copy of a biography of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. (I left Guardsmark long before the Oilers moved to Nashville and changed their name to Tennessee Titans so never got a chance to enjoy their football games from the comfort of Guardsmark’s skybox.)
To Old Waverly for Golf, MSU for Dean’s Meeting
Oct. 23-24, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS, and Starkville, MS
I drove to Old Waverly in a Ford Crown Victoria rented from Fleetmark, where I had lunch and played a fast 4 holes of golf. I walked around the lake on the back side of the course.
After golf, I drove to nearby Mississippi State University at Starkville to meet with the new Arts & Sciences Dean, Skip Saal, and to meet with my fellow members of the Dean’s Advisory Board. We sat through what I thought to be boring presentations by undergraduate researchers that included a whizkid of a 14-year-old boy genius who had been a student at the state-supported math and science school at nearby Columbus, MS.
The board had a fun dinner at Starkville’s District Café that evening, which I followed by meeting up with my pal, English Prof. Clyde Williams at the Harvey’s Saloon for beers.
I attended most of the Dean’s Advisory Board meeting the next morning, where more undergraduates presented their research work. In a way, I felt a little sorry for the kids being trotted out to entertain we old fogeys. I suppose I should have felt complimented that the new dean thought enough of the Board to roll out the top of the talent of his college for our enjoyment. But I thought it was pretty boring stuff and left early to make my 11:50 a.m. tee time at Old Waverly, about a 30-minute drive away.
I playedgolf with a distinguished MSU Physics professor, Dr. Sandra Harpole, and her husband, Martin Harpole, who were also members at Old Waverly.
It was a great day for golf. But I shot a terrible 101 and lost three balls on Hole No. 5 alone. I didn’t have even one good drive all day. I only hit one green in regulation. Had it not been for a few long putts dropping and our informal limit of 7 strokes per hole, my score could have been 110 or higher. But it was an enjoyable round. Playing with Sandra and watching the woman hit long drives and expert approach shots was a rare treat for me. Not many women play golf at all and those who do are often pretty crummy.
I reflected that I’m trying to accomplish too much and working too many hours at Guardsmark. My lousy golf game gives me proof and results of my lack of practice and play.
Back to Old Waverly on Cool Day with Curtis Downs
Nov. 3, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my fellow member Curtis Downs in his new, $45,000 Lexus automobile. It was a very comfortable ride indeed. It was a cool Sunday and I wore a sweater all day even though the skies were sunny and the winds only light, a delightful day for golf.
I shot a 95 and Curtis shot an 85. He birdied Hole No. 18, the only birdie scored for the day. My lack of playing regularly due to the long hours I work at Guardsmark shows in my game. However, despite the very mediocre score, I did hit a few good drives during this round for a change.
To Knoxville to Pitch Guardsmark to TVA Brass
Nov. 14, 1996 – To Knoxville, TN
I flew on Northwest Airlines to Knoxville to join up with my fellow Guardsmark executives John Clark (head of Sales and the man I officially reported to), Jim Antonelli (one of the firm’s top salesmen who is based in Chicago) and Stephen Dorris. We met with Norm Zigrossi, a retired FBI agent who is the Chief Administrator and Executive Vice President for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Zigrossi once headed up the FBI’s Washington office and is responsible for TVA’s security. His boss is an old pal of mine, TVA Chairman Craven Crowell, a onetime newspaperman and formerly chief of staff for Tennessee Senator Jim Sasser. During my years at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, I was responsible for the corporate government relations in Tennessee and had fairly frequent contacts with Crowell and Sasser, including serving as head of Sasser’s Memphis in May barbeque team. Some of that influence carried over when I joined Guardsmark.
Following some a discussion between me and Craven when he had recently been in Memphis to speak, Craven had encouraged his subordinate Zigrossi to consider outsourcing some of the security at three TVA nuclear power-generating plants to Guardsmark. After exchanging pleasantries with Norm for about 30 minutes, I politely excused myself from the meeting with Zigrossi to leave it clear for him to discuss a possible business relationship with Guardsmark’s three sales professionals.
I rode a taxi to Knoxville’s Ft. Sanders Medical Center to visit its Patricia Neal Stroke Rehabilitation Center, where Frank Morrison of the center’s Foundation and his staff rolled out the red carpet for me. They knew I was representing Ira Lipman, an immensely wealthy man whose wife was undergoing extensive medical treatment for a stroke earlier in the year. Ira had indicated a willingness to make a significant gift to the Foundation out of respect for its work and the moral support famous actress and stroke patient Patricia Neal had given his wife, Barbara.
The Center medical director, whose first name was Jeff, and I had a fine dinner at Knoxville’s Chesapeake Restaurant that evening. Ironically, I had eaten well there when staying at the nearby Holiday Inn while covering the bank failure of Knoxville’s United American Bank back in the early 1980s when I was Business Editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.
To Old Waverly with Don Holmes in Rain Suit
Nov. 23, 1996 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly on a fine fall day with Don Holmes, the Girls Basketball Coach at Northside High School and a longtime colleague of my wife, Betty. It was a fine fall day and I always look forward to playing golf with Don, a former City Publinx Tournament champion who came close to becoming a PGA tour professional years some years ago.
Unfortunately, Don was wearing some new, very dressy jeans on this day. Old Waverly’s golf professional balked at the non-compliance with the club’s strict dress code. Don happened to have a pair of rain pants in his golf bag and volunteered to put them on over his jeans without a fuss. The pro graciously thanked him. I thought that Don, an African American with unusual golf expertise but on unfamiliar ground at Old Waverly, handled the touchy situation well.
I had a good round on the front nine holes, shooting a 41. But I fell apart on the back nine as is too often the case, shooting a 51 for a total score of 92 for the 18 holes. Don was a little off his usually outstanding game and shot a 43/42 for an 85. It was a nice day for both of us, but tiring for me since I hadn’t been able to play much golf since joining Guardsmark and working long hours since mid-summer.
Fancy Lunch in New York Courtesy of Ira Lipman
Dec. 4-5, 1996 – To New York, NY
I flew to New York on a Guardsmark-chartered Lear Jet 55 with company founder and CEO Ira Lipman and most of his corporate management team, John Clark of Sales, Jerry Jacques of Finance, Frank Lowie of Regulatory and Sandy Peiser of Personnel. Thankfully, the sleek and comfortable plane arranged by Ira was equipped with a small restroom, making a step up from the charter flights between Memphis and Newark I sometimes used to fly that Schering-Plough HealthCare Products (my former employer) arranged weekly. We were told that the Lear Jet was owned by great novelist John Grisham, the sometime Memphian who rents it out for added income when not traveling to promote his books.
We were met at the airport by a limousine service used by Ira and taken to Rockefeller Center, where Ira has a suite of offices overlooking the famous open square that holds an ice rink in the winter months. I had to change some appointments for business meetings I had set up so I could attend a fancy lunch at Gino’s Restaurant in Midtown with Ira and 9 others from Guardsmark.
Ira personally chose – and recommended to all his guests – a Penne Pasta dish made with a “secret sauce” he liked. So given the no-questions-asked, authoritarian culture he has instilled in his Company, all of us Guardsmark subordinates naturally chose the Penne Pasta for their meal as well. I was pleased that it was so good. It happened that TV and cooking personality Bert Wolfe was eating in the restaurant while our group was seated nearby. As the famous song goes, “New York, New York. It’s a wonderful town.”
After lunch, our group repaired to the Guardsmark suite of offices at Rockefeller Center, where we all did some carry-along paperwork. Later in the day, I hooked up with Ira at the famed Tiffany’s jewelry store. He made it a point to let me know that he is well known to the store’s veteran employees because of his volume of annual purchases. (In fact he buys expensive wrist watches and necklaces for favored Guardsmark employees and gives them as presents in December. Employees soon learn – sometimes to their surprise - that the retail price of the gifts are added as compensation to their tax records the Company files with the IRS and that the individual employee must pay taxes on the gift.)
The main reason for the Guardsmark delegation to be in town was to attend Guardsmark’s 25th anniversary observance of its security services contract with TIME, Inc.’s news department. The oldline magazine is now owned by Time-Warner Communications. Ira, ever a brilliant man with an insight into the art of public relations, wanted to celebrate the anniversary and fete Time’s management with a gift and by turning out his company’s executive management team to applaud in their honor.
We gathered at the TIME-LIFE Building on the Avenue of the Americas, on a top floor of the
skyscraper, for a splendid meal of our choice of steak or salmon (I went for the fish). Ira had cautioned us earlier to have no more than one drink at the reception before dinner. I obliged by having a double (or maybe a triple the way it was poured into a tall glass) martini, plus several glasses of white wine at dinner. The food, the drink, the company and the obligatory speeches of salute, applause and appreciation to TIME were all good.
There were 106 Guardsmark security officers who work in the TIME-LIIFE Building that were invited to the evening of celebration. None of the big TIME-LIFE executives who were invited showed up other than the company’s Vice President of Administration, who was responsible for building security. Members of TIME’s own security staff were also present. But it was a very nice evening. I was lucky to meet Richard Behar, a former TIME reporter who now works for subsidiary Fortune Magazine.
Ira gave a ritzy, footed silver tray from Tiffany’s to TIME’s Tom Larkin and expressed the hopes that it would be placed in the corporate boardroom. (Due to the lack of corporate firepower present at the celebration dinner, I had my doubts whether the tray would ever make it into the boardroom although I naturally kept my thinking private in the best Guardsmark tradition of silence.)
I also visited with Raquel Ruben, a senior administrative professional who once lived in Charleston, SC. I later sent her and her boss, John Blewitt, slabs of delicious ribs from one of the famous restaurants in Memphis, the Rendezvous, courtesy of Guardsmark.
I mused to myself that other than the quality of the celebratory event, I didn’t see much quality there. I wondered whether it was the fact that what I saw was the usual New York chill that residents sometimes show everyday visitors or whether it was the inherent suspicion and coolness that seems so intrinsic to the security industry.
Those of us Guardsmark execs from Memphis spent the night at the Hotel Warwick except for Ira, who stayed at a fancier hotel he patronizes when in New York. We arrived at the hotel after 10 p.m. I quickly collapsed into bed, exhausted by the travel and activities of another long day in Guardsmark’s service.
I met John Clark at 8:30 a.m. the next morning and we visited our company’s outside public relations firm, Makowsky & Co., to register our dismay with the lack of good press results they were producing for Guardsmark. I met with agency principals Ken Makowsky and Tim Wallace as well as the new guy on the account, David Smith. I later met with the principals in a competing PR agency, Jerry Schwartz & Co. They declined interest in bidding on a part of the Guardsmark account involving the impending publication by Readers Digest of Ira’s new book, an updated (and staff revised) work that Guardsmark uses in marketing, “How To Protect Yourself from Crime.”
Later, I met up with Ira and my fellow execs at the airport for the flight back to Memphis on the chartered Lear Jet. Midway home, we got a report on the radio that made us all more than a little nervous. The early flash news was only that the Time-Warner Building had been bombed. We feared the worst and didn’t eat the catered dinner on the plane, fearing that we would soon be re-routed back to New York to handle security emergencies. However, the early reports turned out to be false and what had really happened was a grease fire in a TGI Friday’s restaurant next door to Time-Warner.
Per what I was learning was a longtime Guardsmark practice, I found on this trip that my schedule was so jammed with meetings and other business-related activities that I did not have even a free minute to shop in New York’s great stores or to exercise at hotel fitness facilities.
To San Diego to Meet With Crime Commission Model
Dec. 16-18, 1996 – To San Diego, CA
I flew to San Diego (one of my favorite U.S. cities) on a First Class ticket upgrade by Northwest Airlines to meet with the San Diego Crime Commission as a representative of Guardsmark. On the plane were some key Memphis officials interested in using that volunteer organization as a model to form a Memphis Crime Commission in the future.
Among those in the traveling Memphis delegation were District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, Police Director Walter Winfrey, City Attorney Monice Hagler, Guardsmark Senior Vice President Howard Spector, Linda Miller, director of a crime victim support organization, Bill Freeman and Claudia Haltom.
We had a nice dinner the first evening in the Laurel Restaurant that was hosted by Gus Lipman (Ira’s eldest son) and Ron Olsen.
There were many presentations at all-day meetings the next day that concluded with a reception hosted by the sheriff, police chief and U.S. Attorney in San Diego, followed by a dinner for the Memphis delegation led by Gibbons.
I retired to a nice Marriott hotel after dinner, but was up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare for the flight back to Memphis, which connected through Minneapolis (where there was snow with temperatures of 4 degrees). Sadly, and as I had learned from my relatively brief time at Guardsmark, my time in San Diego on company business was completely booked. I had no free time at all to exercise or see any of the sights of a beautiful town with great beaches. I found myself aggravated when Ira Lipman telephoned to pull me out of a meeting and a little later the reception as well to talk about matters I thought to be of minor importance.
To Gulf Shores, AL and New Orleans With Family
I ducked out of my office at Guardsmark, Inc. in Memphis a little early so I could drive to Gulf Shores, AL with Betty and our son, Casey, for perhaps our last family Christmas vacation - of 10 days - there this year. This was the longest Christmas vacation I’ve ever taken, a much-needed break from the pressures at Guardsmark, a national security services firm. Guardsmark’s founder and President, Ira Lipman, had hired me as Vice President of Communications and Government Relations after I had been pushed into early retirement at my previous employer, Schering-Plough HealthCare Products last summer. I had been an admirer and friend of Guardsmark’s founder for many years and had covered the company while I was at The Commercial Appeal.
Casey had gotten good news from the University of Virginia. It was mailed notification that his grade point amounted to a 3.6 out of a possible 4.0 for the semester. It was his highest academic marks at the distinguished institution, where Casey is majoring in the tough curriculum of Civil Engineering.
Betty, Casey and I drove about 450 miles to the south and east of Memphis to Gulf Shores, across the bay from Mobile, and arrived about 11 p.m. We were exhausted by the tiring drive. But at least the monotony of the drive had been broken up on this evening by our seeing some great Christmas light decorations at roadside homes and farmhouses in South Mississippi.
On Saturday, we continued our family tradition and purchased a scraggly cedar tree to hold the Christmas decorations we brought from home. Casey and I also played golf at the State Park Golf Course. I shot one of my best rounds of the year there, an 86 that included 7 pars. I hit 10 fairways in regulation and hit 9 greens in regulation. I took only 39 putts on the 18 holes. Casey was off his game. That uncharacteristic game of his was understandable given the stress of his travel from Virginia followed by a long drive to Gulf Shores from Memphis. He shot a 97.
The weather was great for late December, with daytime temperatures rising into the upper 60s to low 70s all week.
The next day, Betty, Casey and I went on a four-mile beach walk at Fort Morgan, about 20 miles down the coastline. We inspected the stern of a sailboat that a storm had evidently washed up on the beach, about a quarter mile from the edge of the normal waterline. A delight of this beach walk around the eastern edge of the bay’s junction with the Gulf of Mexico is an ever-changing sight of debris from the sea that washes up – everything from pieces of wrecked boats to carcasses of dead fish and birds.
On Monday, Betty and I went on a 14-mile bike ride, followed by a shortened round of golf with Casey at the State Park course. I scored a 42 on the front 9 holes before a heavy rain ended the golf round for the day. Casey and I waited for at least 30 minutes for the rain to lift since I was shooting so well. But the rain just got worse and worse so we abandoned the round.
Per our annual custom when in Gulf Shores at this time of year, the three of us attended the delightful Christmas Eve service at the local First Presbyterian Church. It is always good to see how such a determined preacher can make a shortened service quite meaningful with a careful selection of hymns and remarks.
On Christmas morning, we opened presents in our condo. Later, Betty and I cycled 12 miles. We also walked a mile along the beach in front of our condo. On Thursday, December 26, the three of us drove to New Orleans, where we stayed at our usual hotel that offers a special price break the last week of the year, the Sheraton on Canal Street. We had a great lunch at Commander’s Palace, but unfortunately a spice in the lamb sausage made Betty ill that evening.
After lunch, we took some photos at famous writer Anne Rice’s big house at 1st Avenue and Chestnut not far from Commander’s Palace, an award-winning restaurant where we were told she is a regular patron. After eating well, we returned to our hotel, where I napped while Betty and Casey walked to the nearby French Market in the French Quarter along the Mississippi River.
That evening, we took a driving tour of the Celebration Lights display in City Park, where the traffic crawled due to people drove slow and stopped to see Christmas displays of fireworks. We cut short our visit since Betty was feeling nauseated from the after-effects of spicy sausage at lunch.
The next day, we drove for more than an hour towards Baton Rouge, LA and visited Houmas House, a magnificent, antebellum home at Burnside, LA. It was the center of a 12,000-acre sugar plantation a century ago where 500 slaves once labored. The elegant house has been magnificently and exquisitely restored to its former grandeur. It is located about 200 yards from the Mississippi River once plied by classic steamboats. Today, one must look out upstairs windows at Houmas House to even see the river because of a high levee that protects the property during annual floods.
After an informative tour that seems to draw tourists and Civil War buffs from throughout the U.S., we repaired to the nearby Cabin Restaurant. The restored place is in what was once slave quarters. We picked at what was an incredible quantity of fat grams served as sausage and fried delicacies on our plates in dishes cooked in old-fashioned Cajun methods.
Then we headed back to Gulf Shores, about a 4 ½ hour drive to the east. Once back at the beach, my old friend Curtis Downs joined Casey and me for a mulish round of golf at the upscale Kiva Dunes Course. It is about midway between Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. Rated as one of the top courses in Alabama, it was designed by the same professional who designed our Old Waverly course at West Point. But due to the narrow fairways near the beach and expansive areas of sand in the rough, Kiva is a tough course. But it is a beautiful place to play golf.
We paid $55 for our rounds, which we played in fog so heavy that we lost sights of our drives in the murk. I shot a 96. Curtis shot a 95 and Casey a 94.
The three of us tried to play again the next day at the Woodlands Course close to Gulf Shores, on Sunday, December 29. I was really hot on this day, shooting a 41 on the first nine holes. Casey was at 55 and Curtis was at 44 for the turn after 9 holes. Regrettably, heavy rain ended the round early. Even before the rain hit the course, the wet turf stubbornly limited the roll of our drives (and helped avoid balls bouncing into the rough) due to soggy ground and heavy fog.
That evening, Betty, Casey and I ate at The Spot. Curtis had decided to drive home because of predicted bad weather on the next day. However, the forecasters missed the boat and Betty and I were able to ride our bikes 14 miles to the State Park and also walk 4 miles on the beach to the Young’s By The Sea restaurant.
Casey and I played another round of golf at the State Park course on New Years Eve. I only managed a 94. Casey, with six consecutive pars, shot an 86. We went to Jake’s Steak House for the first time that evening, where the food was good. We got up early and drove back to Memphis on New Year’s Day.
<!-- hitcountersonline.com Code START --><a href="http://www.hitcountersonline.com/details.php?page=424973&print_page=http://www.lewisnolan.com/Getaways-1996.htm" title="http://www.lewisnolan.com/Getaways-1996.htm Stats" target="_blank" style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; color: #000000; text-decoration: none;">Counter Stats</a><br><a href="http://www.melbourneelectrician.com.au" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.hitcountersonline.com/count.php?page=424973&style=0505024&nbdigits=5" alt="melbourne electrician" border="0" ></a><br><a href="http://www.melbourneelectrician.com.au" title="melbourne electrician" target="_blank" style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; color: #000000; text-decoration: none;">melbourne electrician</a><font style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; color: #000000; text-decoration : none;"> Counter</font><!-- hitcountersonline.com -->