Gk was my accountant for several years. I’ve mentioned him in a few of my other stories before.
GK was so fast on a desk calculator, you’d think the keys were going to fly off. By the time I got to know him, he was pretty much an old drunk. He would shake a lot. But when he sit down and had a pen in his hand that man had the nicest handwriting of any person I’ve ever known.
He had gone to a business school when he was young. He could do shorthand and took dictation at an amazing rate. His typing skills were second to none.
I often wonder what his life may have been like if not for drinking. I may have mentioned this before about him, but his job with a Texas millionaire businessman, HH “Pete” Coffield, was where he claimed his drinking all started. The strangest thing about GK, in all the years I knew him, I never saw him drink anything except beer. Ok maybe some coffee, but no hard liquor. He seldom even drank water. I only remember him drinking Miller Highlife Beer, in the clear bottles.
I do recall him trying to quit a couple of times, but I don’t think he made it more than a day or two. Even those times I suspected that he cheated. For years he seldom ate.
He said his job required him to travel with his old boss to social events, and the old man, the millionaire wanted to see him with a beer in his hand at all times during these social times. They moved around the state entertaining high profile politician and businessmen. While his boss lived in and their main office was in Rockdale, Texas most of their entertaining was done at a very large house on an estate on Westlake Drive in Austin. I was never there, but driving by it was a fabulous place.
On nights when there were parties at the mansion in Austin, Mr. Coffield would have his driver, a black man named Whitey chauffeur him in. Whitey was always on call and drove him everywhere, except when it was more than a few hours drive, then he had several planes that he would fly in. He always kept a new or almost new shiney black car with red interior for he and Whitey to travel in. He was very frugal so it wasn’t a big Chrysler or Lincoln or Cadillac Automobile. It was a four door Ford Fairlane. One that would have been not so different from the one pictured below.
If they were going as far as Houston or Dallas he and Whitey may head out at 3:00 AM so they could be at their destination at the start of business. The old man would lay in the back seat and take a nap while they traveled, getting up and straightening up once they arrived.
When it was the day of a big party in Austin they would get ready to go, GK on more than one occasion would suggest that maybe he could ride with Mrs. Coffield in her chauffeured limousine and give Whitey the night off. To which the old man would say, “I’m not riding with her, do you have any idea how much gas that thing uses”? And then he would add “what would people think”? So then they would head out in both vehicles.
I heard many stories about trips to the south Texas Ranch between Encinal and Asherton where all the movers and shakers would gather for drinking, women and they even hunted some. It sounded like the kind of gathering where the old fellow could get about anything accomplished that he set out to do.
GK always said the undoing of everything for him and his boss was when the son, Petey died. Petey had left a few thousand dollar life insurance policy to his Aunt, his mothers sister as beneficiary. On the day that check arrived, GK was told to forge the Aunts name on the check and then deposit it. When he wouldn’t do it, he was let go. Something makes me want to believe that story is mostly true.
It wasn’t many years later that both the old man and old woman were dead also. The Boy Scouts of America was the beneficiary of much a few hundred million dollar estate. Many years later the Scouts had never received any money and the attorney’s were slowly eating away at it.
Now I have no way of knowing what really happened with any of that whole story but given the way things happen I wouldn’t be surprised at any of it. My real hunch is the drinking was getting in the way of his employment.
Below is a car much like the one Mr. Coffield and Whitey traveled around in.