Cherry's Galveston Memories
those who grew up during the Great Depression, buying a Cadillac or
Lincoln was something you did only if you were past 50.
Although my daddy, W.W. Cherry, preferred the look, style and comfort
of a Cadillac, loving to take on the city’s best negotiator required
that he buy Lincolns. Kyle Gillespie owned the Lincoln dealership.
Trying to outfox him, my daddy thought, was the ultimate challenge.
|William W. Cherry
Photo Courtesy Charles Robinson
my check for $9,000,” Daddy said to Mr. Kyle. “Saturday’s August
1st, and you’ve got a payroll to meet. Bet this’ll cover it nicely.”
“Bill Cherry, shame on you. You and I go to church together, and
here you are trying to steal a car from me. But to keep you from
being a 61-year old crook, I’ll let the blue one with the genuine
cloth upholstery go for $9,500."
Daddy took out his wallet. It was full of brand new $100 bills.
He pealed off five of them and set them on top of the $9,000 check.
“I’ll have it ready for you in the morning,” Mr. Kyle said, continuing
to chew his ever-present piece of gum, but sensing the deal wasn’t
“I’m going to really like that 1970 gold Lincoln with the 8-track
stereo system, the gin-you-wine leather upholstery and the moon
roof,” Daddy said like it was just to recap.
“Where’d you get the idea that you were getting the hottest car
on my lot, the one with the leather upholstery, the 8-track stereo
system and the moon roof for $9,500? That car’ll cost you another
While the negotiating continued for days, the deal was finally made.
Nevertheless, having to have the last word, Daddy said, “You’re
going to have to throw in a free tank of gas.”
“I didn’t say anything about a free tank of gas. Buy it yourself.
You’ve already taken every cent of profit I was going to make. Now
you want me to go in the hole. OK, tell you what, if you promise
me you’ll stay out of my sight for the rest of your life, I’ll give
you the gas.”
That was the summer the American National Insurance Co. board of
directors brought in a younger man named Glendon Johnson to be the
Since Daddy was one of the company’s directors and senior officers,
it was decided that the sales managers from all across the U.S.
would be brought to the Shamrock Hotel in Houston
where Daddy would introduce Mr. Glendon to them with a rousing introduction.
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
| His associate,
Arnold Frankovich, would arrange for big red, white and blue banners
to be draped across the front entrance to the Shamrock, and there’d
be the most elaborate buffet in the Emerald Room.
At a prescribed time, the sales managers would gather around the front
door, under the red, white and blue banners. Daddy would bring Mr.
Glendon from the airport in the new Lincoln. As they would start up
the long driveway, a Dixieland band would start playing and the sales
managers would blow whistles, play kazoos and wave flags. Then Daddy
would pull up in front, the doorman would open the car’s right door,
and Mr. Glendon would jump out, joyous and smiling and shaking hands
with this one and that.
Daddy wasn’t able to pick up the new 1970 gold Lincoln Towncar, the
one with the leather upholstery, the 8-track stereo, the moon roof
and the full tank of gas, from Mr. Kyle until moments before he was
to leave Galveston
for Hobby Airport.
As he approached the airport, he realized the gas gage was on empty.
Had Mr. Kyle forgotten to put in the free tank of gas or was the gage
not working? He had no time to stop at a service station to see. Mr
Glendon’s plane would be landing in moments.
Daddy parked the new Lincoln at the door and went inside to meet Mr.
Glendon. When they came out and got in the car, it wouldn’t start.
No amount of praying was going to put gas in an empty tank.
Just then a big linen truck drove up and parked behind the Lincoln.
Daddy got out, went back to the driver and said, “Hi, I’m Bill Cherry.”
He stuck out his hand.
“The name’s Calvin,” the driver said with a skeptical look as he shook
“I want you to know that the people who run one of our companies,
the National Hotels, really think a lot of your linen service. Probably
your biggest account.”
Daddy went on, “Calvin, I’ve got a problem. My new Lincoln won’t start,
and I’ve got to get Mr. Johnson to a meeting at the Shamrock. He’s
our company’s new president, and I’d guess he’s going to have a lot
of influence on whether the National Hotels keeps doing business with
you. So you can see why I need for you to loan me your laundry truck
to drive him there.”
Calvin said he couldn’t let Daddy and Mr. Glendon use his truck, but
he would drive them to the Shamrock so he could save the day for his
good customer. However, Daddy and Mr. Glendon would have to ride on
the bags of dirty laundry in the back since there was only one front
Fine. Daddy and Mr. Glendon jumped in the back, and Calvin left for
When he started up the Shamrock’s long driveway, Mr. Glendon and Daddy
could see the big red, white and blue banners, the several hundred
sales managers gathered around with their whistles and kazoos and
the Dixieland band waiting to play.
The doorman saw the truck coming up the guest entrance driveway rather
than going around back to the service entrance. He went nuts, blowing
his taxi-calling whistle and waving his hands wildly.
Calvin kept on coming. When he got to the front door, he jumped out,
opened the back doors to the truck, and out flew Mr. Glendon and Daddy.
The bewildered sales managers started blowing their whistles, playing
their kazoos and waving the flags. The Dixieland band cranked up “When
the Saints Go Marching In” Daddy palmed a crisp C-note from his wallet
and passed it on to Calvin.
In the Emerald Room, Daddy took the podium and began his glowing introduction
of Mr. Glendon, never mentioning the unusual arrival. Then Mr. Glendon
took the mike, smiled as only he could and opened with, “Unaccustomed
as I am to arriving this way....” Everyone howled.
Mr. Glendon left the American National seven years later. Daddy, retired
by then, continued driving Lincolns. But I don’t recall that Mr. Glendon
ever bought one.
Mr. Kyle will be 91 years old this year. Daddy will have been with
the Lord for 31 years, a loss I’ve never quite gotten over. For those
reasons, it seemed to me to be a superb time to share this story about
two dear friends.
Bill Cherry's Galveston
July 1, 2010 column
© William S. Cherry
Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime
columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill
Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still
available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.