Good Neighbors and Fast Talkers

Camino in Winter

In 1987 we purchased a house at 1270 Camino Real on two acres in Fairview. It was not the perfect house but we enjoyed taking care of a smaller place. We had a nice big swimming pool and the grandchildren loved to come out and swim. We also had a big garden that was very productive. Our next-door neighbors, Ken and his wife, Tina, came over one day for a visit. Ken said he was going to have to put in a pool for his kids. I said for him to not do that but use my pool whenever we did not have guests. He agreed but said only if you and Charlotte will come over and get all the produce you want at any time. Ken was a fabulous gardener and had a huge garden that he worked in every afternoon as soon as he got home from work. From that time on we did not have as big a vegetable garden as we had before. Even when we did not pick from his garden, Ken would leave a grocery bag full of beans, tomatoes or peas from time to time on our back porch.

Camino in spring

It was about this time that I had one of those “wish I could forget” experiences. I was on the board of the chamber of commerce, and our President was a fellow who was under a lot of fire and finally quit. He tried several things and after about a year he and his wife divorced. He came in to see me at the office and asked if I would hire him as a salesman. He was down on his luck but he was sure he could sell a lot of houses, so I decided to give him a chance. About two months later with no sales, he came in to see me. He told me he had three or four sales that were going to happen any time but he needed an advance to pay his rent and also his alimony to his ex-wife. I asked how much? He said he needed $5000 to hold him until his sales came through.

I was smart, I thought, because I told him I would not give him the money but, I would go to the bank and see what we could do. I went up to my friend Charlie, the president of the bank at Anna and told Charlie about our friend in need. Charlie said he would talk to him. The next day Charlie called me and said I loaned your guy the $5,000 and, I need you to come up and guarantee his note. I said, “Whoa, what’s the deal? Charlie said, “I told your guy I would only let him have the money if you endorsed the note and the man told me you had said you would.” Long story shortened, I signed the note, the guy quit me about a month later and we never heard from him again. I made arrangements with Charlie to pay the note off and for almost three years I paid $200 a month. Every month I was reminded what a chump I had been.

Charlotte asked me, “Will you ever learn?” I always trusted a man until he proved untrustworthy. I did get burned more than once, but I think I did the right thing. Looking back over my 60 years in business, in every deal I ever had and every partner I had, I tried to meet them more than half way. I always did try to do what was the right thing, but I guess my judgment wasn’t always the best.