Chapter 7
Farewell, Fun Events and Life After the Legislature
A farewell. Kroske had invited us to dinner at the Balboa Bay Club and when we walked in I was surprised when I spotted some friends and then Bill led us to the ball room set up for a banquet. To our complete surprise Bill and my staff had set up a Roast and many old friends were present. Governor Deukmejian, while unable to attend, had made a film that was shown and several letters were read from legislators in addition to verbal roasting by some that were present. The only two I have left are the ones that meant the most from former attorney General and still a Congressman, Dan Lungren and Governor Deukmejian.
A 1980 fun event. If you have seen the 2004 film, "The Aviator", this may be of interest. It was the moving of Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" from its hanger in the Harbor, where it had been stored for 33 years, to the big Dome that had been built for it near the Queen Mary. It was the first time it had been seen by the public since Hughes flew it for almost a mile at a height of 70 feet in 1947. The city was glad to have another tourist attraction.
The 1942 contract to build it initially called for three aircraft to be constructed under a two-year deadline in order to be available for the war effort. To conserve metal, it was to be built mostly of wood (elevators and rudder were fabric covered). The "Spruce Goose" moniker was created and in addition it was also referred to as the "Flying Lumberyard" by critics who believed an aircraft of its size could not fly. Work proceeded slowly caused by delays on acquisition of strategic materials such as aluminum with the end result that it was not completed until after the war.
In 1947, Howard Hughes was called to testify before a Senate Committee over the government funds for the aircraft. In a transcript of the hearing, Hughes said:
“The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That's more than a city block. Now, I put the sweat of my life into this thing. I have my reputation all rolled up in it and I have stated several times that if it's a failure I'll probably leave this country and never come back. And I mean it.”
On November 2, 1947, a series of taxi tests was begun with Hughes at the controls. After picking up speed on the channel facing Cabrillo Beach, north of the Long Beach harbor, the Hercules lifted off, remaining airborne 70 feet off the water at a speed of 135 mph for just under a mile.
Hughes had answered his critics, but the justification for continued spending on the project was gone. In 1980 it was put on display in a large dome adjacent to the Queen Mary. In 1988 it was disassembled and moved to its current home in Oregon.
Several years previously, on December 9, 1967 another fun event had taken place. The City had bought the Queen Mary and to celebrate the Queen Mary’s arrival I rented an apartment facing the Ocean on the ninth floor of a condo on the bluff in Long Beach. We prepared a Champaign breakfast for our sales force and some friends and watched the Queen Mary arrive through the opening in the breakwater surrounded by a flotilla of sail boats and yachts.
It was a big day for Long Beach. Some had flown to England and boarded the queen there for its last voyage while others had flown to South American and boarded it at its last stop before its final stop in Long Beach. It was a festive occasion for the City. However, like most projects it ran several million over its rehab budget. For instance, they found the smoke stacks so corroded that they had to be replaced. The Diners credit card had contracted for the management but after spending a substantial amount they left it to the City.
Queen Mary History:
She is 1,019.5 ft. long; 81,237 gross tons; 12 decks; passenger capacity 1,957.
March 24, 1936: Queen Mary departs John Brown Shipyard in Scotland and Her Majesty, Queen Mary, present her personal standard to the ship. July 27, 1967: Sold to Long Beach.
September 19, 1967: Retired after 1,001 crossings of the Atlantic that included carrying a total of 765,429 troops in WW2 including the wounded and as many as 15,000 at one time. When the war ended it brought 12,886 G.I. brides and children from England.
May 18, 1968: After refitting at the Naval Shipyard it was moved to its present location.
September, 2008: It’s still a tourist attraction and used for events. I’ve attended many meetings and my favorite restaurant was the "Sir Winston."
There is life after legislature.
In late 1981 Bill Kroske called and said he wanted me to meet with him and Ben Kane who had been quite successful in selling Century 21 franchises in New York. Ben had been involved in a company that insured home buyers" plumbing, electrical, heating, etc. and provided the companies that would do the repairs.
He proposed that we start up a franchise composed of all property services without the insurance angle. A franchise that would included all property needs from roofs to rose gardens, glass to gazebos, and painting to plumbing and everything in between. They would all identify under one logo. If you had 40 companies averaging two trucks per franchisee then each would have 80 trucks bearing their logo. In addition to their coop-advertising when on a job each company would also look for work for other members. All of these would make them look large and successful. That was the concept.
Bill got a hold of Dr. Dick McKenna, his old partner who had worked with me in developing the Century 21 Sales Management Academy. They put together some test groups of sub contractors. A decision was made to proceed and while the business plan was being created we debated on the name. The final selection was submitted to a some artists and this logo won first place plus the slogan, "Dial One to Get One".
I was still in the Senate so I had little to do with the start up except to attend Board meetings in Long Beach. Bill, Ben and Dick were the engine and they went to work creating the first group of Dial One franchisees in the greater Long Beach Orange County area utilizing my Century 21 headquarters building.
When that was well on the road Bill concentrated on selling State Master Franchises as well as foreign countries. He started with the Century 21 gang that owned Master Franchises and within little more than a year 16 states were involved and we had 500 plus franchisees. Internationally we had Canada and Japan. For 3 years running we were the fastest growing franchise with TV commercials running in a dozen markets.
I had reserved Northern California as a Regional Franchise and had set up an office in Sacramento with a manager. We got it off the ground but in our third year we maxed out at 21 members and stagnated. About half of them were improving but the others began to experience financial problems and it was easier to blame Dial One than face the fact they weren’t following the program.
The concept was flawed. The mistake was not requiring proven business skills and examining their financial statements. The small companies were easy to sell because they were looking for a fast way to grow and had little business training and were usually undercapitalized. Many had difficulties with the disciplines of providing uniforms, covering their shoes when entering a house, vacuuming and tiding up when they were finished and promptly settling complaints. Other problems were keeping their trucks clean, having them painted white with the proper signs applied and training their workers to look for work for the other Dial One trades while on a job. The bottom line was that few understood how to manage their employees or a business and our training programs failed to overcome entrenched habits.
When I left the Senate in December of 1984 I worked full time trying to get our franchisees up to speed while increasing our numbers but nothing was working. Kroske and McKenna closed International and moved on.
My final attempt to rescue it was with one of the founders who had retained Orange County. He had developed an extensive computer program used by the franchisees for accounting and keeping track of referrals, etc. Unfortunately he invested too much on the computer program. In addition to a substantial debt he was also facing the same problem of losing franchisees.
We gained control of Dial One International but it was too far gone to obtain financial backing so we succumbed to a Venture Capitalist who managed to tube it within a year. I finally walked away from a great concept and extremely large investment.
However, there are many fine, successful companies bearing the Dial One logo in the States and Canada. You can find them on line but I believe they operate as individuals scratching each other's backs and sharing in group advertising and the advantage of appearing large, professional and successful. They are the ones that either already knew or, rapidly learned how to operate a business.
Kathleen Norris was mentioned in regards to the Select Committee on Anatomical Gifts. I had given door prizes to Republican Groups in my District that included lunch with the Senator, a tour of the restored capital and a seat on the Senate floor if we were in session. Staff notified me that a Mrs. Norris of Newport Beach had called and made arrangement for herself and her two children. I invited Carolyn and the children to join us at the Firehouse in Old Town. After we had eaten I had to leave to get back to the Capital.
However, when I got home that night Mrs. Norris and her children were there. Carolyn had invited them for dinner after they toured the Capital. She was an attorney practicing family law in Newport Beach, divorced and very much concerned about continuing to raise her son and daughter in a permissive area of teen agers with expensive cars and drugs. And, she didn’t want to continue with family law, not because of her clients, but because of the opposing attorney's ethics.
Those were the reasons she had bid on "The Day with the Senator" when it was auctioned off at a luncheon in Newport Beach. She felt the visit would give her insights to job opportunities and a more reasonable life style for Rusty and Sarah who were 11 and 13. She was a pleasant lady who obviously cared for her children.
Shorty after that Carolyn invited a Psychiatrist, who she had met at a meeting of the Senate Wives, to the house to meet me and discuss a children's program he directed that was funded by the State. He asked for my help in expanding the program so I asked my Chief of Staff to check it out.
A few weeks later Carolyn said she was seeing some old friends who lived in San Francisco for the week end. When she returned she told me she loved the Psychiatrist and filed for divorce. I moved to an apartment near the Capital and after we had gone through several attempts to put our marriage back together she made it clear she couldn’t give up her lover.
Her four children plus Colleen and Lisa lived with us in the Mi Court house. We had been a family and I have stayed in touch with them and helped them when I could. Kari has two children and lives in the hills above Los Angeles, Todd is in the Army Medical Corps in Iraq and Chris is in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his sister Stephanie who has three children.
Before the divorce was finalized, her lover dumped her and stiffed her for money he had borrowed telling her he had spent more than that amount on her. She moved to Tahoe Village with the children. I sold Mi Court and bought a condo in Sacramento nearer the Capitol.

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© 2011 Oliver W. Speraw