Wise Words Pappy

My father certainly didn’t coin the words, “Bigger doesn’t make it Better, “but he used those 5 words plenty.  He passed away over 11 years ago, so he spoke that phrase decades ago.

 In 1962, my father was 50 years old and working hard as a general foreman at a large automotive parts manufacturer.  His generation often called the “greatest generation” changed American shopping habits in that very year, 1962.

Unlikely as it seems,  K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Target all started doing business in 1962  Many didn’t see these giant discount centers in their home-town for years but they were spreading rapidly in the 70s when my father was sadly disappointed with their service, their reduction in choices and the blighted landscape.  Those 3 monster-marts now control the majority of sales of most every unit they carry. 

During the final 20 years of my father’s life, I lived 2500 miles away here in California.  I would visit twice a year for a few weeks at a time.  I enjoyed the long daily talks with my pop, face-to-face.  Hours of talking sports, politics and business.  When the conversation got to “business” he would repeat his Bigger/Better quote and apply it to the latest industry giant.  With the word, Monopoly, now only meaning a board game, other entities like oil companies, phone companies, cable companies, stock brokers, hedge fund companies, power companies and media companies all too became GIANTS. Some entities became so large they morphed into something entirely different.  Big banks became giant casinos

In one of my early 80s visits, my dad was furious because Reagan had signed the Depositary Institutions Act.  Dad said most of the bankers in Savings and Loan banks weren’t very smart and it was like having a choice of coffee or booze at an AA meeting.  He quoted Reagan saying, “This is the most important legislation for financial institutions in 50 years…I believe we hit the jackpot.” 

Dad said, “Wrong!” 

In just a few years around 750 Savings and Loan companies blew themselves up and we taxpaying suckers had an 88 billion dollar bailout to pay. (sound familiar?)  Credit dried up for a few years and housing starts were cut in half and we had a nice recession in 90/91.  I heard about it every visit.

I started paying closer attention when my father and I got to the “business” part of our bi-annual face to face discussions.  He was a well-read man and taught me the value of fact-checking news and especially political news.

We didn’t just talk the 4 weeks a year I visited, but we sometimes talked on a daily basis.  We did it one voice at a time on our cassette tape recorders.  I was a road-rep, doing about 60,000+ miles a year. I rigged a small microphone over the sun-visor in my van and had my recorder beside me.  I gave my parents a birds-eye view of the ocean, the mountains and the desert.  After they made a few trips west, they could remember every mile I was describing to them from my moving camera-voice.

On the cassettes I received from my parents, they would take turns talking.  When mom went to the market or “out with the girls”, my dad would talk about the news, sports and business. 

In the 90s, he was using a new familiar quote quite often, “Follow the Money.” 


He would have a got a chuckle over the recent defeat of the cigarette tax proposal here in California.        5 million people voted and the measure was defeated by 28,000 votes.  So be it, that’s democracy. But, do you suppose that the $50 million the tobacco industry spent helped a bit?  Probably.  I imagine if over half of the voters knew that California is 33rd in taxes on tobacco, they might have changed their minds. Hell, Texas taxes a pack of cigs 54 cents more than California.  Freedom-loving Montana charges $1.70 more per pack than we do.   Yes, I hear his voice, “Follow the Money”

I have a few big boxes with over 150 audio tapes from my mom and my late father.  20 years of my parents voices talking about the Indiana weather and expressing their love for each other and their sons.  I am slowly getting them converted into digital-saved memories.  Someday, hopefully, my great grandchildren will hear their great-great grandfather yelling, “Bigger isn’t Better….Follow the Money!!!

Wise words, pappy.

About bakoheat

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5 Responses to Wise Words Pappy

  1. When my dad saw Service Merchandise, one of the first ‘big box’ jewelry stores, moving into the mall, he imploded. Same theme as your dad. My dad wasn’t very political, but he was definitely old school when it came to small business, and he correctly predicted that cut rate jewelry chains would kill the smaller stores. Interestingly, a number of them survive today, probably because of the niche market they serve, and of course if the have a “real” watchmaker on staff, they are money magnets. Too bad my Dad couldn’t have worked in this time, and made some real money. When he was at the bench he got $5 for cleaning a watch. Today a basic Rolex service is at least $6-700. Of course, not many watches are mechanical any more, thanks to quartz. But if you know the trade and are good a mechanical timepieces, you can make a hell of a good salary. I remember thinking, too, that NAFTA was like opening Pandora’s box. What was your dad’s take on that?

    • bakoheat says:

      Thanks for writing Vincent. I don’t ever remember my Dad commenting on NAFTA. He had constant battles with the UAW on a daily basis, yet he always respected his worker’s union rights. He used to tell me that he and the rest of management only got raises wnen the union got them for their workers.

  2. Carol says:

    It proves what great thinkers the Mc Guire’s were. I can’t think of a wiser or smarter man than our grandfather, who with only an elementary education, became a foreman in the factory. Read, listen to all, then make a decision, thats what they did! Very wise men, wish I could talk/listen to them and my father just a few more hours.
    You are very lucky to have his voice, I could listen to Uncle Jimmy talk forever, sounded like grandpa. The older I get the more I think about all the good times being around all our family, we had good mentors and lives growing up!

  3. A good reminder that “too big to fail” really needs to be paired with its corollary: “too big to be permitted to exist.” Either that, or we could go back to letting even large companies fail…

  4. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

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