Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Part II

The way that Dad planned to become the Robert J. Debry and Associates, only the Merrill K. Gee and Associates, and in Idaho instead of Utah and long before Robert J. Debry added Associates to his name, and very possibly before Robert J. Debry was even named at all, was in this fashion. My mom grew up in Preston, Idaho with the result that I had a Grandpa and Grandma not only in Pocatello, but I also had them in Preston, which, of course, was very confusing until I studied Mendell in my college biology class, but long before I studied Mendell and understood it all, I had a Grandpa and Grandma in Preston. Well, anyway, we would go there fairly often, and Dad somehow managed to pick up some clients there. Exactly how he did that, he never really explained to me. I suppose he stood around the local General Store, which was about all they had in Preston in those days, except, of course, the Spudnut shop, which was right next to my grandparent's place, so I suppose he could have stood around in that, and said to customers, "Would you like to sue somebody?" and eventually, he got some takers. Of course, if he did do that, it is awfully close to doing advertising which, as I explained earlier, he was supposed to never, ever do under any circumstances, but, then, I suspect that The Bar was not real active in Preston and he felt he could somehow get away with it.

At any rate, he had clients there and so he had to go there and occasionally he would offer to take Loni and me along. Now we loved to go to Preston. For one thing, my Grandpa Merrill had a very large raspberry patch, so whenever we went, if it was summer, we got to eat lots and lots of delicious raspberries (unless, of course, we had to pick them ourselves, in which case, we didn't eat quite so many). For another thing, the Crockets, who owned the doughnut shop next door, would see us hanging around and offer us a genuine Spudnut. But the main reason we loved to go (other than to see Grandma and Grandpa) was to visit Aunt Jessie. Jessie Whitehead was not really our aunt. She was my Grandpa's cousin, or second cousin, or maybe even third cousin, but we always liked to call her Aunt. Of course, normally, we were not usually all that excited to visit even our real aunts unless they had kids our age, which Aunt Jessie didn't, but what Aunt Jessie did have was a TV set. In those days there was not a TV station anywhere near enough to Pocatello that you could get TV there, but Preston was close enough that with a very high antenna on your roof you could get the stations in Salt Lake City. So it was at Aunt Jessie's place that Loni and I learned about Boston Blackie and Howdy Doody and other very important people that kids in Pocatello knew absolutely nothing about.

At any rate, when Dad's friend, Dana Muir graduated from law school, Dad approached him with the idea of opening up a branch of his office in Preston, and Dana would run that branch. Over lunch at our house Dad explained the whole thing to Dana, and I listened in very carefully, hoping that I could somehow get in on this operation so I could get down to Preston more often and thereby get even further ahead of all the other kids in school in Pocatello by watching Aunt Jessie's TV more often. The only lawyer in Preston was a man named Del Smith, and according to Dad, as he explained to Dana, this Del Smith was either old or lazy, I don't remember which, maybe both (if you know someone who lived in Preston at the time you could ask them whether Del Smith was old or lazy), but anyway, he was, again according to my dad, not up to doing near the amount of lawyering that needed doing in Preston in order to keep the place is ship shop shape. So Dana, who thought that since he had spent four years in college getting a law degree, he might as well do something with it, and not aware of the possibilities I will explain later when I talk about Tom Boyle and Jason Holladay, accepted and off he went to Preston.

Now this was very exciting to Dad. I think he could easily visualize the day when he would have branch offices all over Idaho and could advertise himself (as soon as The Bar would allow him to advertise at all) as Merrill Gee and Associates. Loni and I were very excited that maybe he would open up a branch office in Lava Hot Springs, hopefully right next door to the swimming pool. But alas, it was not to be. About a week after he went down to Preston to start working on his first case, Dana called Dad and said that he needed help. Dad said he was glad to go and understood completely, after all, it was Dana's first case, and they can't teach you everything that is in all those huge books that line the walls of a lawyer's office, even in four years. So Dad went down. To his disappointment, even amazement, Dana announced that this, his first case, was also to be his last. It seems that whoever it was that Dad (and now, Dana) was suing, was about the most popular person in Preston, so that wherever Dana went he was accosted and almost threatened. Dana said he understood that people who got sued might be a little annoyed, and maybe even more than a little annoyed, with the people who were suing them, but it had never occured to him that they would be equally--and maybe even more--annoyed with the lawyer who was representing the suing people. After all, he was only the messenger, so to speak. But he was finding out different, so he said, he was quiting the law altogether.

Dad, as I said, was dumbfounded. He pleaded, he cajoled, he threatened, he cried, but all to no avail. Dana was determined. The reminder that he had spent four long arduous years getting a law degree carried no weight whatever, when he thought of the menacing looks he received walking down the streets of Preston. He had put himself through law school by doing typesetting for the Denver Post. So Dana began doing the same thing for the Idaho State Journal. What must have been terribly discouraging to Dad, and he even hinted at it a few times, was that Dana, who started to real estate on the side, was soon doing better--and according to my dad--much better, than he(Dad) was doing with all his college and experience. So anyway, since it had become painfully obvious that he was never to be Merrill Gee and Associates, he had to try the next thing, which I will try to describe in the next section.

1 comment:

Loni said...

Kaey, boy do I remember Aunt Jessie's tv! I thought that was the coolest thing to watch tv...I saw the wedding of Queen Elizabeth - I think that was when I decided I wanted to be a princess...fat chance of that!

And, I remember Dana and how he went to work at the Idaho State Journal, but I didn't remember why....too sad for dad. Another great essay. Loni