Back in 1949, I was an office boy for Julius Klein Public Relations. When I was first hired, I didn’t realize that Julius Klein was a retired Brigadeer General, later promoted to Major General, a hero during World War II.
How I got the job is one of my favorite memories. My kid brother Jack had the position of office boy however he really didn't like it. He told me he was going to quit and I asked him what was he being paid. Wow, he was getting 65 cents per hour which at the time was pretty good for a part time job while I was going to school.
He suggested that I go to the office located at 38 S. Dearborn (now the First National Bank Building) and talk to Mrs. Martha Kaufman. As it turned out Mrs. Kaufman, the office manager was a cousin to the General. So, I went and met with her. I told her that my brother didn't really like the job but he thought that I would. Without hesitation, she hired me on the spot. Today in 2011 I would need a resume, probably two interviews, a credit check, a background check and a myriad of other things you need today just to get the interview. It was the beginning of my on the spot "college education" in the world of public relations and people skills. I was really a gopher by any other name. And I loved it.
Then the moment came when I met General Klein. He came into the office like a whirlwind quickly brushing by me. Everyone began to react quickly from his presence. I had been there at least a week before he noticed me and asked who I was. He became one of the people I have most admired in my lifetime.
I learned he was a Colonel in the second World War stationed in the Pacific under General Douglas Macarthur. Yes, I was impressed. When the General learned I could take shorthand and type he asked me to work some Sundays with him. His regular secretary appreciated that so she could have a day of rest. In those years it was unusual to find a man who could type let alone take shorthand. Today my great grandson types at the age of 10. No he doesn’t take shorthand. That position was where my career began. I was with General Klein for three wonderful years.
In 1951 the news came that President Truman had fired General MacArthur. General MacArhur was one of few five star generals in World War II and the Allied Supreme Commander of the Pacific War. He was on the USS Missouri when Japan signed the formal unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces. In addition, he had been called by President Truman to go to Korea for what Truman called a police action. By then the American troops were taking a beating in the early part of the police action. In one of the most brilliant tactical maneuvers in American history he was able to get around the North Korean army, catching them off guard and in doing so saved hundreds of young American lives. After that , MacArthur had different ideas about how to win the war against North Korea. Truman disagreed and finally recalled MacArthur back to the U.S.
After Macarthur returned to the U.S. he became an instant hero. Parades in his honor were held all over the United States and eventually Chicago. To let you know, I was never as much as a second late for my job. But the day of Maccarthur's parade I couldn't get through the crowded streets of Chicago and I arrived in the office 5 minutes late. The first and only time. And then Mrs. Kaufman came to me and said " General Klein was looking for you. He wanted you to be with him in his car honoring Douglas Macarthur. To my great disappointment I never met the hero of the Korean police action. To this day I wondered how my life would be affected if only I had not been late. We'll never know. It would have been one of the highlights of my young life. But working for The General still remains one. It's been nearly sixty years yet I can still remember my time with him in great detail. He was an amazing man.
Another time I'll talk about when I was a body guard for Louis B. Mayer. Yes dear friends, the Louis B. Mayer himself., Metro, Goldwyn, Mayer….
Memories light the corner of my eyes and I hope yours too.