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Story Time: Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Me (Part 6)

I met Mamie Eisenhower

I received a large sum of money from Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy



This is part six in a series of stories I like to tell about my life. Links to the first five parts are at the bottom of this page.

I met Mamie Eisenhower







My mother, my sister, and I were on one of our weekly shopping trips in Bethany, Missouri. We didn’t normally do so, but on this occasion we stopped at the Malt Village for a treat before heading home.
While we were enjoying our sundaes, a limousine pulled into the parking lot. We did a double-take. A limousine in those days meant celebrity. It was definitely out of its environment in Bethany, Missouri in the early 1970s. Bethany wasn’t exactly a hotbed for celebrities.


So we were watching when out stepped three or four Secret Service types. That meant not only celebrity, but somebody important. I immediately thought of Mamie Eisenhower. I had read in the newspaper that she would be traveling from her childhood home in Boone, Iowa on that day. Bethany was along the route she would be taking.


When I mentioned that I thought Mamie Eisenhower might be in the car, my mother or my sister approached one of the Secret Service guys and asked him directly if Mamie was in the limousine. He said yes, and also agreed to let us approach the car so that we could say hello.


So we did. The three of us walked up to the limousine. Mamie Eisenhower was sitting in the back seat. She rolled down her window to visit with us. She was eating a homemade ham sandwich out of a brown bag while the Secret Service guys were inside the restaurant eating ice cream. We apologized for interrupting her meal, but she insisted we stay and talk.


We had what seemed like a long chat. She was friendly and polite, and seemed genuinely pleased that we had taken the time to visit with her.



I received a large sum of money from Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy



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One day, while routinely opening my mail at work, I came across a check in the mid 5-digit range. The check was in an envelope addressed to me, and it was from G. Gordon Liddy. Imagine my surprise. This was G. Gordon Liddy, the mastermind behind the infamous Watergate break-in which eventually doomed the presidency of Richard Nixon.


My job did not involve receiving or processing checks from anyone, let alone someone as infamous as Liddy. He sent the check because he wanted to invest the money. It took a little research on my part, but I did manage to forward the check to the appropriate place. The check was supposed to go to a different subsidiary of the parent company where I worked.


I just couldn’t figure out how he got my name and address. This is speculation on my part, but I can only think of one way for G. Gordon Liddy to get my name, and here is that story.


I was Senior Accountant for Capital Guardian Trust Company. My company served as investment manager for large corporate and government pension funds, among other related business. We managed assets measured in the $billions, and I dealt with transactions in the $millions every day. I was in charge of the accounting department for client accounts. My department’s main function was to provide monthly financial statements to these clients.


For these types of accounts, investment management and physical control of assets could not be handled by the same company. Each client picked its own trustee (custodian) bank to handle the deposits. A large part of what my department worked on daily was to reconcile our records with statements from these banks. As part of the process, my name was listed on the client contracts as the contact person for receiving bank statements. All such mail would be directed to me, and it was my job to make sure it got distributed to the appropriate person. This system was designed for me to get bank statements to individual accountants assigned to specific accounts.
With my name listed as the contact person, I received many types of mail in addition to our clients’ bank statements. I received corporate quarterly and annual reports; I received stockholder proxy requests; and more.


Years earlier, my company, Capital Guardian Trust Company, had merged with American Funds, the large family of mutual funds which dates back to the Great Depression with the Investment Company of America. This merger produced a parent company, Capital Group Inc. Over the years, Capital Group has grown and expanded into different areas of investment management. It is one of the largest players on Wall Street, with assets measured in the $trillions, even though the company is privately held and tries to keep a low profile.


The check I received from G. Gordon Liddy was actually supposed to go to one of these other areas of investment management, an area not related to my department or my job. While I don’t know how he got my name, I can only speculate that when he decided to invest with Capital Group, he asked around – perhaps at a large east coast bank such as Bankers Trust or Chase Manhattan – and my name and address were listed on their records.
Anyway, the money did end up where it was supposed to go.


A few more anecdotes relating to my job at Capital Guardian:



This wasn’t the first time I received a large check while working at that job. One of the duties of an accountant in my department was to send letters to custodian banks asking for corrections in their records. You would be surprised how frequently these giant banks made errors in the 1980s. One of the first such letters I sent when I was new at the job resulted in a bank “correcting” their mistake by sending me a check for $35,000. This check was made out to ME, as payee. Since I was still learning the job, I didn’t know that this was something out of the ordinary. I had to ask how to process it. The answer was that someone at Northern Trust in Chicago had made a mistake. They weren’t supposed to mail money to anyone, let alone me. They were supposed to deposit the money in our client’s account at their bank. I had to send the check back. Oh well, I never did think I was going to get a chance to spend that money.


My clients included the largest corporations in the world in the1980s: IBM, General Motors, General Electric, Ford, Mobil, and many others. Government pension funds included the states of Connecticut and Iowa and the county of Los Angeles, among others.


At one point in time, my job included maintaining accounting records for some of Johnny Carson’s personal investment accounts.


As Senior Accountant, my job included verifying every aspect of our clients’ monthly statements. I was the last person to see the statements before the clients got them. I had to make sure that everything was correct: The names and quantities of every investment; the prices and yields of those investments; the cash, accruals, payables, and receivables. At the same time, I also handled the day-to-day transactions for some of our accounts.


I had to certify that we used the correct price for every investment security owned in our clients’ accounts. My job was to develop the criteria used for determining the correct price for every security. This was not easy when you consider the wide assortment of investments involved. I had to be able to explain why our company used one price instead of a different price. While I was still on the job, some of the trustee banks began using the same criteria at the request of clients.


I developed a computerized system for bank reconciliations. My system became somewhat of an industry standard. Years later, I took a computerized skills test at an employment agency, and my bank reconciliation system was on that test. They marked my answer wrong, because the test had an error in it. They were impressed when I told them that I invented the system, but my answer was still counted as being wrong.


When I began the job, the client’s accounts were maintained in large, cumbersome ledgers. We had to undergo a major computer conversion in order to automate these records.


I had a PC to use at work when PCs were new on the market. At first, I only used it to access the company’s system and to create Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets. I had the very first version of Lotus. For those who weren’t around in the 1980s, Lotus was the forerunner to Excel. I didn’t have Windows; I had MS-DOS, and I learned my way through C-prompts. I didn’t have a mouse; I had to use the keyboard.


I was in charge of formalizing department procedures. I had to teach myself how to type in order to write the department’s first procedures manual. That procedures manual was the first book I ever wrote. I probably would never have become a writer if not for that project. My company gave me an early version of Word Perfect specifically to write this book. Word Perfect in the 1980s was far from user-friendly by today’s standards. Years later, I wrote another procedures manual – this time for a division of the United States Postal Service.


At Capital Guardian I worked in a heavily-audited industry, but when I started we did not have an internal auditing department. I set up the first one, based on my experiences with external auditors. As soon as I developed auditing procedures, the company hired full-time accountants to do that job.


My job had perks. My company owned season tickets with some of the best seats for all of the sports and entertainment venues around the Los Angeles area. I attended numerous home games for the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Rams, Raiders, and Kings. When the USFL came along, I attended some of their games. I attended indoor soccer games. I attended a title match in boxing. I attended several concerts, including Aerosmith and Rod Stewart. Every employee received tickets to an event in the 1984 Summer Olympics, and I attended an Olympic basketball doubleheader. I attended one game of the 1984 NBA Finals, and sat behind the Boston Celtics’ bench. I attended an NFL playoff game, where I watched the Rams shut out the Cowboys. Magic Johnson also attended that game, and sat behind me. I attended the very first NFL game that Dan Marino played in; also the first pro game played by Hershel Walker (USFL, New Jersey Generals) and the first pro home game played by Steve Young (USFL, Los Angeles Express). I attended the home run derby for the 1989 baseball All-Star game, although it wasn't called Home Run Derby in those days. It was called All-Star Workout Day. It wasn't televised, and it was held in the daytime instead of prime-time.





This is part six in a series of stories I like to tell about my life. Here are links to the first five parts:

jerrywyant's picture

Part 1:


I performed on stage with Bob Hope
I held up a flight leaving La Guardia Airport in New York
I played basketball with Bruce Jenner


Part 2:
I huddled with the Kansas City Chiefs throughout one game
I was the star of the Missouri Boys’ State talent show


Part 3:
I was filmed in a hit movie with Danny DeVito
I was chased by a bear in the mountains


Part 4:
I was trapped in earthquake damage
I provided key evidence in the largest court case resulting from the stock market crash of 1987


Part 5:
I’ve always believed I was cheated out of a chance to become state champion in the mile run


Author: 
Jerry Wyant
Date: 
2016-02-16
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