A month in the desert sun had elapsed when Penney got a call from Roy Johnson, the dynamo who had
The old man thrived in such situations. He still had a fabulous memory and would be able to thrill many retirees by calling them by
"Thank you thank you, my
friendsand fellow associates, thank you very much. Some today are expressingconcern about the lower dividendsof late due to the company's transformation for the future. This is natural and quite understandable. But I think that ”in my old age ”I might get away with some philosophizing instead of further comment on the company, per se."
"Money, of course, can buy many things, but it can
procurefor us neither peaceof mind nor well-being of soul. Therefore, the accumulation of wealth by itself is no measure of success, is it? No, we attain success only in proportion to the degree we are able to train ourselvesto perform good deeds. Therein is the salvation of the soul. So things are of value only insofar as they serve to make us finer, more honorable, more cultured, more generous, more democratic, more influential and more faithful men and women. And as we likewise influence others. This I have seen and this I know from personal experience."
Again he looked around with a smile and again the people looked back with
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's great being here and I am so pleased that Roy called to invite me. I look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible after dinner. Thank you."
Too short! He left them wanting more, and everyone got up and applauded ”led by Roy Johnson, who returned to the podium with an odd, businesslike expression. "Thank you, Mr. Penney! As usual, wise words from our beloved founder!" Those two sentences
"Now, Mr. Penney, we have some business. I speak for everyone here and I speak for Penney retirees across the country when I say that it's now urgent to get something on the table." He looked around at the founder and spoke directly to him. "Mr. Penney," he
Penney was stunned. Johnson went on at some length, saying that it was sheer folly to fix something that wasn't broken, that the Penney Company had been one of the most successful businesses in the nation, that it had always paid great dividends, and that it was now being driven to ruin by Batten's foolhardy attempt to start a catalog and
"Thank you, Roy, but I have no comment at this time," Penney said. Then he added, "Your remarks were earnest and thoughtprovoking, and I have listened
A week later, back in New York for the board meeting, Penney waited for someone to bring up Johnson's complaint. He was now prepared to comment. But nothing was said on the subject, and the meeting was adjourned. Penney turned to Ray Jordan and Mil Batten. "Would you two please stay? I want to talk to you."
Jordan sighed, rolling his eyes to Batten. "And Roy Johnson was a friend of yours."
"Still is, I hope," said Batten. "This is just money talking. Or the lack of it."
"Mr. Batten," Penney said, "I just wanted you to know that you have my complete confidence. And I would like to celebrate that by taking both of you to dinner. Someplace special."
They went to an expensive restaurant and enjoyed an elegant dinner. As they rose to leave, Batten looked at Jordan and nodded back at the table. The president then hung back and slipped some bills down beside the