In this issue
"McElvany's asking too much," Sam Bensen told me. Sam was founder of Bensen Steel Co., a steel service center in Illinois. Jack McElvany, his controller, had been with him for eight years, and had started prowling around Sam's turf, looking for a "fair share," even (gasp!) equity. Sam, it was clear, was circling his wagons against a nonfamily employee with a sudden taste for a piece of the action.
It was unusual for my old friend Walter Waitingame to phone at 8:30 on a Sunday night — unusual and inconvenient, just when the kids are getting their second wind and it's my night to give them their baths. But he sounded upset.
"How about if I call you in the morning?" I suggested.
"No, no, don't do that," Walter said. "I can't talk freely about this at the office."
The business started out as a junk shop on New York City's Lower East Side, founded by two brothers-in- law, John Ginsburg and Isaac M. Levy. It grew into one of the nation's most distinguished antiques galleries, with wealthy clients like Henry Ford, Henry Francis du Pont, and Richard Loeb. Through 72 years the founders and then their sons managed to work together. Ginsburg & Levy Inc. was the country's oldest antiques firm selling Americana when a running argument in the families broke it apart in 1973.