Chapter 14: Grandchildren

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Transcribed by Michael A. O’Neill in Mar/Apr 2014

Transcribers note: This is a transcription of Mabel’s book, not an upload of the original of the document she created. It was transcribed using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software, which will result in capitalization errors; misspellings of proper names; odd usage of prepositions or common words; and incorrect homophones. For true fidelity, you can request the book via Interlibrary Loan from the Greenville College or Azusa Pacific University libraries.

About 1965 my husband’s health began to fail. He developed emphysema and found it more and more difficult brief. He had suffered a heart attack in 1958 from which he had recovered quite well. His doctor had put him on oxygen with a breathing machine. During those years, however, he kept going to his office and running the business. He would get up and take in oxygen treatment before breakfast. His driver would come at nine and take him to the office. When he came home about five, he would take another oxygen treatment and still another at bedtime. He had smoked cigarettes all his life since boyhood. He had tried several times to quit the habit but never could. He was truly addicted. He was, however, not a very heavy smoker, a pack would lasted three days. I kept track of his medication and ordered the big tanks of oxygen. I did all the driving that was not to the office.

In May, 1969, I heard him fall in the bath and found him send me unconscious. I called the doctor and he ordered an ambulance and we got him to the hospital. He was in intensive care for a day or two, then in a private room with the nurse. At the end of two weeks, the hospital would not keep him any longer. We had to find a nursing home for him, and found one only a short distance from our home. Those were anxious days. Lavon, his younger daughter, came from the East Coast and stayed with me and helped until he died four months later. We kept a nurse with him all the time, but one of us went every morning and every afternoon. Darcy C Cage, my husband’s nephew, was acting president during my husband’s illness.

My husband’s death, 5 September, 1969, immediately loaded me with a heavy responsibility. The company was in the midst of an expansion of the plant at Fullerton at the cost of a quarter of a million dollars. A large addition to the main building was necessary to accommodate new machinery that had been ordered. The board elected me chairman of the board. From then on, I held the board meetings and participated in all decisions. To make things worse, our engineer, who was in charge of the new machinery, fell and injured his hip and was unable to work for several weeks.

About a year or so before Darcy’s death, we had been talking about our problems. I said to him, “if I lost you, I wouldn’t have much income because we are paying almost no dividends on our stock.” He said, “Mabel, if you lose me, go right down to the office and put yourself on the payroll and take over the magazine advertising.” I remembered that, and that is exactly what I did. The girl who had been helping with the advertising had moved Oregon, thus I knew more about it than anyone else in the company. They gave me an office, and for a year and a half I helped run the company. I know that Darcy C Cage resented my being there, but it was something I had to do. It was a heavy burden, for it involved employees, my family, the Cage family, and shareholders.

Fortunately we had good attorneys that we could trust and who were familiar with our business. Mr. Nevins was the member of Lawler, Felix, and Paul, who was assigned to me to help us through the probate. I was executor of the estate. Darcy’s will made in 1960 left his share of our state (all community property) to his two daughters, but I was to have the income as long as I lived. Also I was trustee of the daughters’ trust. When we were negotiating the sale of the business I was worried about the jobs held by Lavon and her husband and also Darcy C Cage, for I thought they might lose those jobs if and when we sold the company. In the end, we asked the court to give the two daughters their inheritance that (1971). I also made an agreement with the buyer that he would give a job in sales to Darcy C, but Darcy refused it. I am so glad that the decision for the daughters was right. Both daughters and their husbands are gone now (1988) but they had a good income from their father’s estate for many years.

My brother’s children were all born in Southern California. Ernest and Florence had only one child, a daughter, Betty. Her name was really Elizabeth, but we all called her Betty. In high school she had about with polio but fortunately recovered very well. She had not finished college when she met John Alexander. They fell in love and promised Ernest that if you let them marry, she would finish later. That she did. He took her to Madison, Wisconsin, and when she got her A.B., he got his PhD. They have raised four children, two girls and two boys. They are John Jr., Lynn, Mary and Douglas. Weston and Meredith had two daughters and a son. Virginia, the first daughter, was a year or two younger than Betty. Virginia is a talented musician. She married Paul Combs, the son of two Presbyterian missionaries in Africa. They had two children, a daughter, Kathy, and a son, Ricky. Weston’s son, Bill and his wife Barbara have no children. Barbara, Weston’s second daughter, is a nurse. She married J Putnam O’Grady, who took her back to his home in Minneapolis. They raised a family of five. First three sons, Jay, Jeff, and Kent. Then two daughters, Kimberly and Kit.

My two brothers together had eleven grandchildren. Only Kathy and Ricky were raised in California. I never had any children.

In February 1973, I suggested to my three nieces that it would be good to have a family reunion. They agreed. I thought that if we gave them warning, maybe they could come. We set the date for 4 July, 1973. Ernest and Flo were living in their lovely home in Hermon. Weston and Meredith were already living in Leisure World. I was a widow, living on Waverly Drive. I had bought an apartment in Leisure World, but had moved down. The two oldest Alexander children couldn’t come, but all the others did. We kept them in our homes. We filled to pews at a Glendale church on Sunday morning. We had a picnic at my home in the patio July 4. It was wonderful.

Most of the grandchildren at that time were either just starting to college or just finishing high school. Darcy’s estate had been settled in 1971. His half had been given to his daughters. I was in control of my half. I told the grandchildren that I would give each of them $2000 for every year they were in college. Their parents were doing all right, but it would be hard for a family with two or three in college at the same time. All have graduated but two, who quit after two years and got jobs. They have all done well, and we are very proud of them.

Both my brothers were much younger than I. Ernest was 7 ½ years younger and Weston was eleven years younger. I had always thought they would look after me when I became old and helpless, but both are now gone, and my closest relatives are nieces and one nephew, Bill Vinson.

Ernest Vincent lived 11 January, 1899 to 1980.

Weston W Vincent lived 27 November, 1902 to 1984.

At this writing— November, 1988, I am living comfortably at 1203 Rossmoor Towers in Leisure World at Laguna Hills, California. Mr. Nevins, are probate attorney, told me at our first conference that we should not talk price or terms with anyone interested in buying the company until we had settled the estate taxes with the government.

Not long after that some friends introduced me to a young man who lived on Waverly Drive about two blocks from me. He seemed quite young and I was not too impressed. He and two classmates from Harvard Business College had been buying businesses and were doing very well. Mr. Courney Moe wanted to leave his partners and be on his own. He knew about our company and its fine reputation for integrity. I did what I had seen my husband do with prospective buyers. I let him look at finance reports, but I would not let him take them away and would not name a price. He came several times and was a little insistent. Then one day he asked me if he and his attorney could have a conference with my attorney. I said yes if Mr. Nevin would agree. They did have a conference. Later Mr. Nevins called me. They had made an offer. Mr. Nevins said we had to consider it. I said, “no, it is not enough.”

The negotiations were quite long; the appraisers were thorough. Mr. Moe increased his offer by a half-million. We had conferences with my attorney and my brothers and the board. They wanted all the stock. I got the same deal for every shareholder. They offered 70% cash and 30% in notes. With my husband gone, I had management problems. In the end, it was my decision, but the attorneys and my brothers all advised me to take it. The notes for 8% and ran for twelve years. It was all paid in 1983. Mr. Moe and his board met every payment right on time. They are still running the business. They have bought other businesses. The Superior Fireplace goes right on. When I made that deal, I never thought I would live to see it all paid for. But here I am at ninety-seven writing a book about it.

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