Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Recognizing Israel

The other night I was discussing with my friend Leon about people were extremely committed to causes.

Leon was for many years in the furniture business. I asked him if he had known a man named Sam Tarshis?

He thought for a moment then smiled and said, "That is a name out of the past. I bought a line of furniture from Sam."

I then realized how long ago I knew him.

In the late 1940's Sam Tarshis used to come to Walla Walla as a fervent supporter of the United Jewish Appeal. He would call and request a meeting at the synagogue and a few devoted members would show up.

The message was always that no money was to be collected but everybody knew enough to bring their checkbooks.

There was always an inspirational talk. This one I remember in particular.

After defeating several Arab armies with few arms and shear willpower, Israel had declared itself a nation.

It was urgent that the fledgling government be accorded official recognition by the powers of the world. Russia immediately recognized Israel as defacto the new nation.

The U.S. dependent on Arab oil was not so sure.

Mr. Tarshis received a call from contacts in Washington, D. C. charging him with the task of breaking a deadlock in the senate by delivering physically and with a positive vote the senator from the state of Washington, Harry P. Cain.

Senator Cain was speaker at an American Legion picnic at a park in a small suburb of Tacoma.

Sam quickly drove there and found the Senator who had finished his speech and had already made several visits to the beer keg and was just a bit tipsy.

Not to be held back Sam pulled him away from swapping war stories with his World War II buddies and began to explain the seriousness of his visit.

Senator, you are devoted to stopping the Soviet Union from spreading Communism throughout the world. Do you realize that Moscow has recognized the new government of Israel and the U. S. has not!

Moscow has tentacles now in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq and the premier of Iran has announced that he will make a pact with Russia on oil. Do you want to see a nation that should be pro America be sucked into the Communist orbit?

Of course there was a demurer that his staff would have to gather information but Sam insisted there was no time the vote would be taken in a matter of hours.

Sam then offered this solution. He asked if there was someone whose advise he trusted.

The only one who came to mind was Louis B. Mayer the head of Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie studios. Cain had met him in the course of Senate anti communist hearings. He was Jewish and his anti communist feelings were indisputable.

Long before the days of cell phones Sam commandeered the only phone booth available at the park. Firmly holding the arm of his charge who was repeatedly being summoned back for another round by his buddies he dialed Washington and disclosed his problem.

He was told to hang up and stand by. The Country Western band played loudly in the back round while a couple of dozen off key voices tried to harmonize with the vocalist.

The senator tried to shake himself loose and rejoin the crowd but at that point the phone in the booth rang.

Mayer here!

Sam handed the phone over saying Mr. Mayer would like to talk to you.

After a short conversation Senator Cain said I must get back to Washington and vote for the recognition of Israel!

Sam threw him into the car and raced to the airport insuring that the man was on the first connection to Washington as a VIP.

Actually, recognition was secured by two votes but it is always important to have a spare.

Harry Cain was defeated in the next election by Warren Magnusen, also a good friend to Israel.

The Jewish community never forgot Harry Cain. He was often a requested speaker at Jewish functions. For a fee of course.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bishop of Walla Walla?

In 1848 the Holy See in Rome created the Diocese of Walla Walla and sent Father Blanchet to supervise the priests ministering to the religious needs of the Catholics of the region.

In those days Walla Walla was the jumping off place for people heading East to Idaho and Montana.
Later, as the rail era began and Walla Walla was bypassed by the mainline carriers, Spokane became the major city East of the mountains.

When a diocese of Spokane was formed Walla Walla Was incorporated into that organization.

The Bishop of Walla Walla became a Titular Office.

Apparently in the twenty century old Vatican machinery it is easier to create a diocese than to appoint a bishop.

I was visiting Washington, D.C. in 1984 when I saw a headline proclaiming the temporary head of the new diocese as the Bishop of Walla Walla. The title had bee dusted off for the occasion and awarded to Father Antonio Marino.

This same device was also used in Atlanta when a new diocese was formed there without a duly appointed full time Bishop.

Apparently the current Bishop of Walla Walla is Father Rozanski. I am not sure whether he has a job or is sitting on the bench.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A virtual Barer or Baer

A man in Texas has been searching for an old railroad to reproduce.

He settled on the Walla Walla Walla Valley Railroad, a fourteen mile interurban that carried passengers and freight between Walla Walla and Milton Freewater, Oregon, from early in the century.

Although, regular passenger service was suspended in 1931, my late wife told me that she used the line to get to her part time job packing fruit at Stadelman's state line packing plant during her high school years.

I accessed the man's site by googling "a virtual Walla Walla Valley Railway" There are some historical photos plus there are pictures of his recreations of shippers along the road. One is Baer and Sons scrap metal.

I sent him an e-mail suggesting he correct the spelling but have not heard back from him.

B. Barer and Sons founded as Isaac Barer Company about 1905 and carried on as B. Barer Eastern Hide and Junk from 1917 through 1936 when it when it adopted its current name with an Inc. added along the way may have been dissolved but it lives on in the virtual world.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A story for our time

During World War II patriotic American business executives volunteered to serve on government boards and committees full time. Their compensation, one dollar per year.

They were known as "dollar a year men."

George, a vice president of a large manufacturing company, was one of those men.

In charge of designing and retooling plants to switch from consumer type goods to the necessities of an all out war became a 24/7 obligation to this inspired man.

He began drinking his meals. The day he saw a replacement at his desk he suffered a major breakdown. Leaving the hospital, he found that his wife had locked him out of his expensive apartment.

On the street he begged money or did day labor jobs becoming more unkempt and emaciated.

At his lowest he went by his old residence. There was something in the mailbox. Reaching in he retrieved the government check for one dollar.

In those days he could get his suit cleaned and pressed for one dollar. He went to the Salvation Army where he was offered a breakfast, shave, and shower.

Later he visited his old employer where he was greeted as a returning hero and told his job had been held for him. Soon he was back into his routine as a highly paid executive.

He sent his story to Readers Digest to inspire others who were temporarily down and out.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jerry Brown is running for political office!

So what else is new?

Well, Mike reminded me of an incident involving Jerry's dad, Governor Pat Brown and Mike's mother.

Those were the days of our deep involvement in politics. We went to meetings and conventions and marched in rallies. It was an interesting time I being involved in the Democratic party and most of my customers and friends being committed Republicans.

I think it was a fund raiser for Hubert Humphrey in Seattle. We were tromping through the Olympic Hotel sampling the food and drink in the various reception rooms. Deciding to move on we we approached the doorway. Coming toward us cocktail in hand was the California governor. He turned for a moment to comment to a member of his party and SLOSH iced, alcohol, and water down the front of Jeannie's party dress.

Apologies and don't worries followed and I thought that was the end of it.

A year later we attended Ann and Andy's wedding reception in Los Angeles. Only about 400 of their closest friend were there.

Jeannie spotted Pat Brown across the room. She grabbed my hand saying I have to talk to him. As we approached she reminded him that she had been the victim in the spilled drink incident. I blanched but he took it in good spirits and we ended up having a conversation about the upcoming election that he eventually won while our Washington incumbent lost.