Interviewee: Richard Treadway
Interviewer: Unlisted [I]
Date: April 28, 1988
I: I am speaking with Mr. Richard Treadway, and it is April 28 . Okay, you
T: Well, I am delighted to tell you a little bit about Vero Beach in 1937. First, let me
explain how I happened to come to Vero Beach. I was the manager of the
Glenn Birney Inn on Lake George, and it seemed logical to try and find a Florida
hotel. So, I talked to real estate Floridian who owned a cottage at Glenn
Berney. He scurried around, and he found the Royal Park Inn in Vero Beach. I
am told the Royal Park Inn was built by a Pittsburgh furrier, whose name
escapes me, at the time of the Florida boom, which was around 1925 or 1926. It
had sixty rooms and about forty baths. I got a partner. I was working for my
dad who was president and founder of the Treadway Inns of New England. His
right-hand man was also a resort operator, John Wriston. John and I each put in
$5000 and borrowed some money from the Indian River Bank. At that time, Joe
Irman was the president of the bank.
I: That would be Indian River Citrus?
T: Indian River Citrus Bank. We bought this sixty-room hotel for $49,500 with a
down payment of $10,000. It was a modest success; even that might be an
overstatement. It was not on the beach. It was too close to the railroad tracks.
Our guests the first night were pretty discouraged because they could hear the
Florida East Coast Railroad pounding down on them. I can remember, I was the
assistant manager because I was just one year out of Dartmouth College and not
as experienced as my partner. One of my jobs was to meet the ladies, with their
steamer trunks, who came for several weeks at a time, the elderly ladies, at the
old station, which I understand has been moved and preserved. I used to take
them back to the inn on what I referred to as the scenic route so they would not
realize how close the inn was to the railroad station. Then, we would smother
them with tender loving care and kindness, give them a free drink and lots of
fresh orange juice. If they got through the first rough night, they liked the place,
the food was good, and they stayed. I finally sold the inn to a Canadian in about
1960. He tried it for one year and then tore it down. It has now been replaced
by the yellow condominiums.
I: I thought it burned down.
T: No, it was torn down. It was just not a success.
I: It was never air-conditioned?
T: Never air-conditioned, and the season was from December 15 through April 15.
It is very hard to make money in a hotel with that short a season. My wife, who
has since died, was the social hostess.
I: What was her name?
T: Martha. We really did a lot in the way of entertainment. We had a weekly
fishing trip on the river. In those days, the river had much more in the way of
live fish. We would have a beach picnic, and we would have a bridge evening.
I can remember playing bridge, as my wife did, three or four out of seven nights a
week. We had a string trio, and we had a Saturday night dinner dance. It was,
without exaggeration, the leading hotel in town. The other hotels were the...I
cannot remember names.
I: Was the Sleepy Eye still there?
T: I do not remember the Sleepy Eye. The Blue Lantern, The Windswept, which...
I: Is now the Holiday Inn.
T: The things that I remember mostly about Vero Beach in 1937 were, first, the total
population of Indian River County was 3500. Secondly, because of the Florida
boom in the 1920s, this town was very well-laid out with streets and avenues.
Of course, there were not any houses on the streets and avenues, but it was very
carefully laid out.
I: Were any of the streets paved?
T: No, I do not think so, not outside of the city. I remember joking with John
Schumann, Sr. about the fact that he was very conservative but was a
Democrat. Also, in addition to publishing a very good small newspaper, he was
the postmaster for the community. I have a very vivid memory of my wife and
me, when we went to register to vote. A very polite well-intentioned lady told us
when we said that we were Republicans that she was sorry, but we could not
register as Republicans. I said, you have to be kidding! She said, well, I
suppose you could, but none of the nice people in town are Republicans; you are
starting a new business, and I just do not want to see you get off on the wrong
foot. Well, I had been a Republican much too long to be dissuaded by this lady
(laughs), so we registered as Republicans. The community leaders at that time
were Merrill Barber, who went on to be in the legislature; Joe Irman, whom I
have mentioned; our lawyer, Luster Merriman; other lawyers who were
prominent in civic and political activities were Jim Vocelle, Sr. and Charlie
Mitchell. Perhaps, our closest friends were the Paul Goodriches. Paul, I
understand, was very active in raising money for the Indian River Memorial
Hospital. The wooden bridge across the river was problematical and episodical,
I am certain, but it had a certain amount of charm to it. The McKee Jungle
Gardens were one of Vero Beach's main drawing cards at that time. A
Dartmouth graduate, Eddie Becton was the director of the Gardens. I was the
class of 1936 at Dartmouth, and he was the class of 1926. After John Wriston
and I left after two years, John Packard became the manager at the Royal Park
Inn, and he was also the class of 1926 at Dartmouth. One of the outstanding
members of the community, leaders in the community, was the colorful Waldo
Sexton. Waldo and Elsebeth were great friends with my wife and me. I always
likened him to Ernest Hemingway. I can remember one evening, he said that he
had discovered a new drink, and it was to take a jigger of rum and put some salt
in between his thumb and forefinger and take a taste of salt and a shot of rum.
After several hundred of these [laughs], his natural enthusiasm expanded, to a
very high degree. But, he was an interesting collector. He brought a lot of color
and publicity to Vero Beach through his driftwood. He also, I think, was involved
with the Patio and the Ocean Grille and also, I believe, the Jockey Club, which
was operated by one of our bartenders for a number of years.
I: Where was that?
T: That was out on Route 60.
I: Oh, on 43rd Avenue?
T: I think so.
I: Yes. I see.
T: Yes. In those days, it was called the Jockey Club. One of my banker friends
from Amherst, Massachusetts, suggested that I buy some oceanfront in 1937.
And I could have bought pretty close to a mile of oceanfront for $10,000. But, I
agreed with his principle; he said, they are not making anymore oceanfront; I
mean, it is just a good long-range investment. And I said, Mr. Whitcomb, I
agree entirely with you, but I do not have $10,000. I wish I had borrowed it and
done that, of course.
T: Let me see. What else might be of interest? I am trying to think of some of the
old timers who were active. There was a very attractive man who was head of
the Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce. There was a nice elderly man, Frank
somebody or other, who sold us the inn. Oh, I think you might be interested in
the fact that in 1937, there were two golf courses. The one that is called the
Country Club was called the Royal Park Golf and only had nine holes and in
1938, they added nine. In our brochures, we gave the impression that it was our
golf course because it had the same name. We did nothing to disabuse people
of that impression. The Rio Mar Club had just nine holes, so the grand total for
the community was eighteen holes.
I: They were both private clubs though?
T: No, the Royal Park Inn was not a private club in those days. I think it was open
to the public. What is now the St. Edwards School was the Rio Mar Club.
Walter Bobard and his wife Edna did a superb job. That was a well-run
operation. Edna is still alive and, I think, is in Roaring Gap. I heard that she
was still alive. They were close friends of ours. What else?
I: Was the hotel in operation when you took it over?
T: That is a good question, and I have a funny feeling that it was closed the winter
before we operated it. We had to do quite a lot of renovating. We brought
down several truckloads of furniture from some of our northern inns. I can
remember coming down with my wife and driving over to see it in October. We
were to open in December. We were so downhearted and discouraged. The
grass was up to three feet, and it was just a shambles. It was so run down and
so dreadful and so musty. I just think that the people had given up on it.
I: But, you had already bought it?
T: We had already bought it. My partner flew down and looked at it, and he had
the imagination to feel that with a modest amount of money, we could fix it up
and make it work.
I: You had a complete dining room?
T: Yes, we had a full dining room.
I: Three meals a day?
T: Yes, three meals a day. Absolutely. We ran it as a resort. In those days,
resort hotels were usually on the American plan, which means that your meals
were included, at eight or nine or ten dollars a day per person, including meals.
That is just memory.
I: Yes. And not all the rooms had private baths?
T: No. We took a lot of rooms, and we reduced the number of rooms, put two
small rooms together, and made it into one room with one bath, which gave us a
little better of a rate.
I: But, even then, you had some rooms that did not have private baths.
T: Yes, and people bought them. The idea that every room had to have a bath was
not an absolute in those days. I must say that, for the record, that I am very
disappointed that McKee Jungle Gardens could not continue. They were really
I: Oh, it was beautiful.
T: You remember them?
I: I did have a chance to go through that, yes, before they built in there, and that is
really a sin. It was so beautiful.
T: I know our guests enjoyed the Jungle Gardens. Then, of course, Bud Holman
bringing the Dodgers to Vero Beach was a great step forward.
I: Now, did you have a bus that took people around, or did they come down with
their own ... no, you met them at the train, so they did not have their own cars.
T: No. We had a station wagon and a driver, and we would drive people wherever
they wanted to go. I do not think there were any rental car agencies in town.
Of course, maybe half of the people drove down, and the other half, we would
drive them just wherever they wanted to go and whenever they wanted to go, as I
I: Of course, you would not have had many children staying there?
T: Very few children, except towards the end of March, when grandparents would
have grandchildren come down.
I: And how about over Christmas?
T: A little bit over Christmas, but Christmas was a holiday for people up north. I
can remember one Christmas when John Wriston had his cousins and their
children, and one of the children was Walter Wriston, who became president of
CitiBank in New York, a tremendous job.
I: Yes. You operated from December 15 on, so you must have had guests over at
Christmas. Did you have a big celebration?
T: Well, we had Christmas dinner. We had a very good local acceptance of our
dining room. It was the best dining room in town.
I: Yes, I have heard that.
T: And we would have wedding receptions, special parties, events of one kind or
another. I do not remember that we had a service club, like Rotary or Lyons, but
I do remember a number of functions. We always had a New Year's party,
which was very popular. There was one movie house in town, and I can
remember the manager was a friend of ours, Clint Rizell. I can remember there
were two dentists, Bill Eubanks and Dr. Coler. I can remember, oh lots of fun.
It was a very happy two winters.
I: What did you do for fun during those two winters?
T: Well, we had a group of friends who played poker at least every other week and
sometimes once a week.
I: Just the men?
T: No. Eight of us, which was quite a...
T: The Paul Goodriches, the Baldwins, the Joe Irmans, and then some fill-ins, the
Fred Eakins, occasionally, and Bert somebody, a big man, and, occasionally, the
Luster Merrimans. I think Mrs. Merriman is still alive. Mrs. Irman, I understand,
I: Yes, she is.
T: Do you know Betty Irman?
I: I had an interview with her about six months ago. Oh, she is a doll.
T: She is fun.
I: She sure is. Did you play golf?
T: I played a little golf, very badly. Tennis was my game, always has been.
There were two tennis courts right near the community center. They may still be
I: They are still there.
T: What is that, Pocahontas?
I: Yes, Pocahontas Park.
T: We went once to Miami and once to Palm Beach, just to see them, and we drove
down each winter. I can remember that the time we took over the Royal Park
Inn at Vero Beach, the Inn at Ponte Vedra (outside Jacksonville), was just
opening up, and we got a lot of their mail, which we returned to them after we, by
mistake, opened the mail up, got the address, sent them one of our brochures.
[Laughs.] It is very edgy as to how ethical that was, but we were really
scratching around for business!
I: Yes, how did you get your business?
T: Well, we had twenty-two Treadway Inns up in New England, so they referred
some business to us. We did a modest amount of advertising. We did not
have much money for advertising. One day, I drove up to some place where
there was a stoplight and just stood there, until the cops chased me away, and
passed out brochures. As the car stopped, I would pass them out a brochure. I
think, with all due modesty, that the Royal Park Inn helped the community
because people liked the Inn. They would come down for a few years, and then
they would buy property and plan to build a house. John Packard and I were
reminiscing one day about the Inn. He was there for about twenty years. He
felt that we had brought a lot of business to the community, a lot of nice people.
I: As I have talked with people, several people have told me that they stayed at the
Royal Park Inn first.
T: Yes, that was their introduction to Vero Beach. I cannot say enough good things
about Vero Beach as a community.
I: Now or then?
T: Both. It had good planning and good community management, city
management, then, and I think that John Little does a super job in running the
city. I think that the city fathers, the City Council and so forth, Bill Cochran,
who used to be the mayor, I think they have all done just a great job. I am also
enthusiastic about Grand Harbor and the Polo.
I: Are you?
T: Yes. The Grand Harbor is somewhat controversial.
I: Yes. Well, the Polo Club was. See, that is going to be just a few miles north of
where I live and they wanted to close off Jungle Trail, which we fought with vigor.
T: And they are not going to?
I: No. The Historical Society fought that.
T: Yes. Well, that was a good thing to do, to fight for.
I: But, I do think it will be a good thing for the community.
T: The Polo? Oh yes, because it is not a high density operation, and it brings in
some interesting people and so forth, so I am enthusiastic about it. Gosh, I think
that Vero Beach is just the nicest place on the east coast.
I: I was wondering, you sold the hotel in ... ?
T: About 1960.
I: So, you operated it then for twenty-three years?
T: Yes. I sold my half of it to my dad, so dad finally owned it. John Wriston
eventually sold his to my father. So, my father owned it, and his manager was
John Packard for all those years.
I: Then, you were only actively involved in it for two years?
T: Two years. It was my idea, and I was the 50 percent owner for two years.
I: And then you sold it to your father?
T: That is right.
I: And then your father sold it to the Canadian?
T: Well, the exact facts of the matter are, in 1955, I was the head of the Treadway
Inns, and I took the various entities and put them into a corporation. At that
time, dad was given stock for the Royal Park Inn, in the corporation. Then, the
corporation, in 1960, the directors and I, reluctantly, came to the conclusion that
we could not continue to pay the losses of the Royal Park Inn.
I: It was operating at a loss all that time?
T: Yes. As far as I can remember, it broke even half a dozen years. It maybe
made money in 1948 but, generally speaking, it was a tax write off. But, we
loved it. The family loved it. Mother and Dad lived there in the wintertime.
Martha and I came down for holidays. It was just a great place.
I: Why did you leave Vero Beach?
T: Well, I had sort of grown up in the hotel business, the family business, and I had
one of my periods of wanting to get away from the family business. I had an
opportunity to go to St. Lawrence University, where Ed Iterian, the doctor,
I: Oh, he did?
T: Yes. In Canton, New York, with the rank of instructor, which gave me faculty
status. I was put in charge of the mens' residence, which used my hotel skills.
And I was given an opportunity to study psychology, and my goal was to try and
become a college dean or a prep school head master. I wanted to get into
teaching, so I was working on that master's degree in psychology. I was also
involved in the guidance clinic, and I helped them start their ski council, their ski
program. They were two wonderful years-my oldest son was born-out there in
New York State. But, I was only being paid $2200 a year. And, about 1941, dad
said, I have just taken over the management of the Fellow __ Cafeteria, which
we are going to design and operate in Springfield, Vermont. This is when we
were edging toward the European War, World War II. And he said, I think it is
your patriotic duty to come back and help me. He said, furthermore, I will pay
you $100 a week, which was $5200 as opposed to $2200. [Laughs.] With a
new baby, I rationalized the situation around to the fact that it was what I should
do, and did do. Then, I went into the Marine Corps after a couple of years, for
two years. Then, I went to the Public House in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
Have you ever been to Sturbridge, Old Sturbridge Village?
T: I am trustee at Old Sturbridge Village.
I: Are you?
T: Yes. I am the oldest, active...the most years of service of any of its trustees.
I: Oh, I love that place.
T: It is a great place with a very interesting history. I could not help but enjoy that.
So, that is how I got back into the company. But, I had a two-year, sort of, leave
I: Hiatus, yes. Then, you continued in the hotel business?
T: Until I engineered the sale of the Treadway Inns in 1964, to my own employees,
and the Inns have had a rather up and down career since. The lady who
interrupted us is the vice president of the current Treadway Inns, and I am a
consultant to them and trying to help them. They are making a good comeback.
I: I see. Then, did you retire in 1964?
T: No, I went to work for an insurance broker, not that I knew anything about
insurance but, because of my political activities and civic activities in Boston, I
had an awful lot of contacts. So, I opened doors for this brokerage house. I
was also active with a new bank that a group of us started in Boston and, also,
political activities. I am now pretty nearly retired.
I: Why did you come back to Vero?
T: I love Vero. Oh, that is not the whole story. I was visiting a lady in Naples.
She did not play tennis and I did, and she arranged some tennis for me. My
lady tennis partner, Jane Ryder of Marion, Massachusetts, when she heard I
was leaving Naples, she said, where are you going? I said, I am going to Vero
Beach to visit my brother. She said, oh, Vero Beach? You must know Peggy
Simmons, who lives on Johns Island in Vero Beach. I had known Johns Island
because I played golf with Joe Irman before he died, on one of these Johns
I: When it was first started.
T: Yes, it was just one course. And she said, I will tell Peggy to look you up. I
said, oh, you do not have to bother to do that; just give me her name and
telephone number, and I will call her; I do not know any ladies in Vero Beach,
and I am enthusiastic about ladies.
I: Were you a widower by then?
T: I was single. I had married once and divorced. I was married to Martha for
twenty-nine years. Then, I was a widower for a couple of years. Then, I
married and, unlike most divorces, we had a very friendly divorce. Really, it
should be a model for divorces. We celebrated our divorce by going to Europe
I: No kidding?
T: Oh, I kid you not. Word of honor. We are still very good friends.
I: That is good. That is the way it should be.
T: Oh, these bitter divorces are so sad. So, anyway, I called up Peggy one night
about six o'clock. I thought she was a little cold, not properly impressed by me.
The great Dick Treadway was favoring her with a telephone call. [Laughs.]
She said, call me in the morning, please. So, I did, and I discovered that she
had a very distressing phone call from her daughter in Australia and she was
about to give a cocktail party for sixty people, so my timing was poor. But, she
had house guests, and she invited me over to have lunch at the club. This was
six years ago, in January of 1982, and we had a couple of dates. Then, my
ex-wife came to Vero Beach, and one of her gentleman friends was showing up
for a while. Then, we had one more date. Then, she had a place in Vermont,
and she suggested that on my way to my Dartmouth 45th Reunion that I stop in,
and spend the weekend, which I did. From then on, it developed and by
December of that year, we were married. And, she had this house here, so that
is why I am here.
I: Peggy Simmons. That is how you got back to Vero Beach. And you still find it
a hospitable place?
T: Oh yes. It is just a great place. I like everything about it.
I: Do you like the way it is growing?
T: Yes. I think that it is controlled growth. I think growth is inevitable. You cannot
just put up walls and say nobody can come because it happens to be the nicest
place on the east coast. But, I think the growth has been very well-organized
and controlled. Sure. Oh, I often talk to Johns Islanders who complain how big
and how much it is growing. I say, if you do not like it, just go somewhere else.
That ends the conversation pretty quickly. No, I am very enthusiastic about
Vero Beach. Very.
I: When you came here then, in 1937, there were not many stores.
T: The only stores, as I remember them, you know where the old movie house is,
and you know the bank which is now a furniture store...
T: ... that little square had just about all the stores here.
I: Did that include grocery store?
T: Yes, that was it. So, being in the hotel business, with groceries...where did we
get our [groceries]? We got by train, I think, big sides of beef and things like
that, and we had a big refrigerator, so we were not buying our groceries from the
little [store]. Because I was eating at the hotel, I was not using the grocery
store. I cannot visualize the grocery store. I can visualize a little mens' store.
I can visualize the theater, the bank. I can visualize Wadtke's. One of the
oldest streets with little condominium-type buildings is Royal Palm Boulevard,
and some of those were there when we were there.
I: Like the little cottages?
T: Well, not the cottages so much as ... the word I am struggling for is a building
where you rent two or three apartments--an apartment, small apartment
I: Resort buildings?
T: Sort of.
I: I think I know the ones you mean.
T: Kind of plastered looking. I mean, really old.
I: Really old, yes, and they were there then.
T: Yes, and we brought our own employees down. We rented one of them as a
girls' dormitory and a boys' dormitory. That is the way you did it in those days.
Then, you took the employees and put them in a northern resort.
I: Right. That was really the only way to guarantee that you had good service.
T: Good service and well-trained employees.
I: You did all your own butchering?
T: Yes, as I remember. We had a very good chef, Stratty Marcus. That is as I
remember it. Gosh, I do not know what else I can tell you about Vero Beach in
1937. Well, I can tell you what was on the beach.
I: Yes, that would be interesting.
T: There was the Windswept. Lilly Rogere owned the Windswept. Now, that was
a wooden ...
[End of side 1.]
I: ... at the Ocean Grille.
T: Now, the Ocean Grille was just a little tiny hamburger and hotdog [place].
Before the Ocean Grille, that is all that was. Then, you went down the beach,
and there was nothing except the driftwood. And you could keep on going down
the beach, and there was nothing. A fellow, Merrill Barber, put some cottages,
some little cabins, almost they were, on the beach. He bought some beach
land. There was another fellow who put some north. But, really, in 1937, as far
as I can remember, there was nothing in either direction, nothing but beach.
I: Was Rio Mar there? Houses in Rio Mar?
T: Oh, Rio Mar had the houses, had the club, and had a beach property, but Rio
Mar did not have a swimming pool. We put in a swimming pool about six or
seven years after--we thought that would make a difference, and it did. It
helped. We had a putting green, and we had croquet. That was one of our big
things, the croquet tournaments. But, the beach was just beach.
I: Was the Windswept a hotel?
I: And they had a great big swimming pool, right?
T: They had a big swimming pool, which has since been torn down. Then, there
was the Blue Lantern. Oh, the Del Mar was a hotel which was concurrently with
us. That was sort of, not far from the community church. It was in that square,
that I remember. It was over there and has since been torn down. I think there
was one called the Gilman and the Blue Lantern, as I mentioned.
I: Where was the Blue Lantern?
T: The Blue Lantern was closer to the railroad track. It was sort of across the
street from us. Oh, there was another hotel. Do you know where the Patio is?
T: Right across the street from the Patio. It was called the Parkway. We leased it
one year and ran it, or maybe a couple of years, when things were on the
upgrade and we needed extra rooms. My brother David was manager of the
Parkway for one year, I think.
I: That was after you had left?
T: Yes, it was after I left town. I always thought that our airport was going to be the
major airport in the area, instead of Melbourne. It is probably just as well that it
is not, as it turns out.
I: I think so, yes.
T: But, we were way ahead of Melbourne in my time.
I: Is that so?
T: Yes, and it was quite active as a training base during the war.
I: Yes, I guess that really helped it expand.
T: Sure, and I was pleasantly surprised that it...particularly as long as we were not
going to be in the hotel business in Vero Beach.
I: Was McCadge Park started then?
T: Is that as you drive out to Dodgertown. Is that McCadge Park?
I: Yes, right around St. Helen's Church.
T: A big circle?
I: Yes. There were some homes out there. There were some homes out Route
60. Grace Hopwood lived out there. There were a few homes on the Jungle
Trail. The Irmans lived outside of town. The land was very cheap in those
I: Yes. Did everybody dress for dinner in your hotel?
T: Everybody put on a necktie.
T: A jacket and tie. Absolutely. It would not have occurred to anybody not to.
I: No, not in those days. But, the ladies did not wear formal gowns?
T: No, but they might on Saturday night for the dinner dance.
I: Was that attended by many of the local people?
T: Yes. We could not have survived, if we did not--the dining room just could not
have survived, if we did not have a pretty good local participation.
I: I remember Dr. Kelso telling me that when he first came down to Vero that they
drove down from Cocoa and could not find a decent place to eat until they got to
Vero Beach and ate in the Royal Park Inn, and he said that was the finest
restaurant, the best restaurant in town.
T: Yes, the food was good, of that I am sure. Well, what else can I tell you?
I: What would the people do during the day when they were staying here?
T: Our guests? Well, I mentioned a few things. When we had the pool, they used
the pool. When the Dodgers were here, that helped the entertainment. But, we
were handicapped by not being on the beach because we were operating as a
resort hotel. I mean, it was not a commercial hotel at all. We did not have any
I: No commercial hotel. No commercial business. Do you think that the station
wagon went to the beach everyday?
T: Probably. I would guess that it made regular trips to the beach. We would pack
boxed lunches, because they had already paid for their food, you see. So, there
was a lot of picnicking.
I: Sure. Did they go to the beach right there by the Holiday Inn?
I: Humiston Park was not there, then?
T: No, but I can remember [in] my second year donating a day's work to what
must--Humiston Park is south. Humiston Park was started, and the Junior
Chamber of Commerce went out and actually physically worked to help get it
going. Oh, we had a grand time with, maybe, 100 of us out there shoveling and
I: Those things can be a lot of fun when everybody works together.
T: They can be great.
I: What do you do now for entertainment?
T: Well, we have a fairly active social life here on Johns Island. I play tennis, and
my wife plays tennis. I played tennis this morning. I probably play four or five
times a week. I have been working here in this office on this book. Then, I am
a consultant to the Treadway Inns. I am a consultant to a trucking company up
north. I am not involved in anything much down here. My next project is to
write the history of the Treadway Inns.
I: That will be fascinating, yes.
T: I think it might be.
I: Yes, particularly to students who are studying the hotel business. I was
wondering, what was your major at Dartmouth?
I: And did you ever get your master's?
I: Tell me a little bit for the tape about the book you have written.
T: All right. Turn it off, and I will go get that copy of the book.
T: During my single years, I lived at a club in Boston, St. Bethel's Club, and
developed a really deep friendship with Joseph C. Harsch, who was the senior
foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and a person who has
had a long, deep and abiding interest in politics. After many conversations, he
encouraged me to write a book about my activities in Massachusetts politics,
from 1952-1972. The book is finished. Although I am trying to get a publisher, I
am not too sanguine in my hopes, unless I rework it into, perhaps, a how-to-do
book, how a businessman can become, on a part-time basis, really active in
politics, in addition to the obvious giving of money, which lots of businessmen do
but do not really get involved in it. So, if you would like, I can give you a brief
outline of the book.
I: Yes, I would like that.
T: I start the first chapter by describing the time that I was invited to run for governor
of Massachusetts, and then I backtrack and give a little biographical information
about me and how I happened to go into politics. And I went into politics because
I: Mr. Eisenhower, yes, I see.
T: Yes, and I am very proud of this because he inscribed it for Richard Treadway
with "Best wishes and high esteem from his friend, Dwight Eisenhower."
I: How nice, yes.
T: I knew him when he was president of Columbia. His right-hand man, Phillip
Young, Owen D. Young's son, was the dean of the business school at
Columbia, and he called me. He knew me through St. Lawrence. Owen Young
and Phillip had both gone to St. Lawrence University. He called me and asked
me if I would come down and make a feasibility study of a big mansion that
Averill Harriman wanted to give Columbia, ninety-six rooms in Tuxedo Park. I
said, sure, I will come down and do this for a fee. I went down and said, we
would like to have you answer three questions. One, is it feasible to be made
into a conference center? Two, how much would it cost to convert it, refurnish?
And three, would Treadway Inns manage it? I had just finished, by coincidence,
a year or two before, the advanced management course at the Harvard business
school. They were going to copy that, and have it for Columbia, and have this
[facility to be] the locale. Eisenhower had this really good idea, which is that it
would have an American assembly annually, or maybe twice yearly, of leading
businessmen, trade union people, academicians, and political types; get them all
together and just talk. We were able to get this done in six weeks. When I was
in France the following fall, Eisenhower had gone to SHAPE (Supreme
Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe), in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty
Organization), you know, the Supreme Headquarters, and Phil Young said that
he would like to have Martha and me to come see him to thank me personally.
So, I went to see him, and I wrote him a letter after having seen him:
Dear General Eisenhower,
Mrs. Treadway and I appreciated your thoughtful courtesy at
SHAPE more than I can say. We now have a much better understanding
of your conception of the American assembly. I followed with great
respect the extraordinary progress you have made with Europe in a year's
time. This couple with my brief exposure to your humility and sincerity of
purpose prompts me to add one more voice to those millions of Americans
who hope you can accept a Republican nomination for presidency. 1952
may well be one of the great turning points in modern history. The United
States must be represented by its first team. I sincerely believe you can
provide the leadership ...
... and so forth and so on. Then, he wrote me back and thanked me. It was
non-committal, but he was very nice. And then, I began to talk and get
interested in politics because of Eisenhower, and a friend of mine called me up
and said that they thought they would back me for delegate to the convention.
This was Al Marstes, a former All-American quarterback at Dartmouth. He
called me and said, Dick, we have been following your quasi-political career. I
said, I am not interested in politics-which is a small untruth-but I have been
interested in getting my name and my company's name into the newspapers
because it is good for business. I had been active in civic affairs, not only
because of noblesse oblige but also because that, too, was good for business.
Al said, just let me finish! We think you ought to be one of our two district
delegates to the national convention. I was flabbergasted but pleased beyond
belief. This was a new dimension to my life which I took to as a duck takes to
water. We talked ten to twelve minutes on ways and means of my becoming a
delegate and he finally said, you are for Bob Taft, of course? And I said, hell no,
I am for Eisenhower! [Laughter.] The telephone was practically slammed down in
my ear, which gave me some measure of how passionately, violently, the Taft
people felt that their hero was not only the logical choice but the only choice for
president. Anyway, I volunteered as a citizen for Eisenhower.
I: You did not get to be a delegate.
T: I did not get to be a delegate. I went to the convention, and... "I can remember
as if it were yesterday the excitement and emotional pitch of the convention.
Wednesday morning, when the question of which Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia
delegation would be seated came to a vote. As we all now know, the vote was
close but in favor of seating the pro-Eisenhower delegations. I will never forget
the organist playing 'The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You' and the Texans with their
big hats and whooping yells marching down the aisle. I was in the gallery at the
time, and my only job was to comfort a lovely but weeping Taft lady who felt this
was probably the end of the world and certainly the end of the Grand Old Party."
Then, on the way back, Christian Herter bought me a martini on the train...in
those days--that was the last time that we all went to the conventions by train.
I: Where was the convention, then?
T: Chicago. "On the train riding back to Boston, having told anybody who would
listen that this was the dawn of a new era in the Republican party, I was invited to
have a drink with our distinguished congressman, Christian Herter. He said that
he spoke for Senators [Henry Cabot] Lodge, [Leverett] Saltonstall and Sinclair
Weeks and asked me if I would be a candidate for the state senate from
Sturbridge. I was astonished. However, after my second martini and some
weak protesting that I had never run for elected office, I accepted eagerly subject
to the approval of my family, who always referred to this occasion as my Martini
Decision made with Olives." Then, I described running for the state senate. If I
reshape this as a how-to-do book, I think it is of more interest than a
I: Yes, I think it has a lot of possibility as a how-do.
T: Here, again. "There are other pieces to my political motivation puzzle. Some of
them had been referred to in the first chapter, but one unattractive piece will not
allow itself to be put aside. It was undoubtedly part of the Richard Nixon puzzle,
the piece being social insecurity which often provides a tremendous drive to
people who want to prove they are just as good if not better than some of their
snobbish and pejorative peers. It wasn't until high school that I realized and was
painfully aware of the fact that the children of Williams College faculty,
particularly children of wealthy faculty, looked down their noses at the Treadways
whose father was in trade." So, then, I describe my campaign, and I describe
my two years in the state senate. I would have spent longer except for the fact
that I made a really terrible business decision, and the family felt that I should
spend more time on business. That is in here. So, I did not run for re-election,
although I could have been re-elected because I had carefully cultivated my
I: Was it a two-year term?
T: It was a two-year term. We had gone to the length of sending out 15,000
Christmas cards. There was no question about my being re-elected. I was
bitten by the political bug, no question about it, and so I joined the state
committee. Our representative from our district decided to give up, so I was
easily elected, having been prominent as a state senator. Then, I was chairman
of the executive committee of the state committee. Then, I described John
Volpe's [Governor of Massachusetts, 1961-1963] campaign. That brings me
back to where I was asked to run for governor in 1960, and I suggested John
Volpe run instead of me. It was a good suggestion. Then, in 1962, I was the
Republican national committeeman for Massachusetts, largely because of the
support of John Volpe, whom I had helped to elect governor. And I was very
much opposed to Barry Goldwater. My first choice was Rockefeller [New York
Governor Nelson Rockefeller]. He did not make it in California. Then, we tried
Bill Scranton [Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton], whom I got to know and
liked enormously. But, my family had been very, very interested, historically, in
civil rights. One of the reasons that Goldwater carried the South was, he made
it clear that he was not. [Laughter.]
I: Right. Very much so. So, you could not support him.
T: I could not in good conscience, and I resigned, or I did not stand for re-election.
So, then, I did a little fund-raising for the party. That was in 1964. In 1969, a
fellow named Frank Sargent wanted me to be chairman of the state committee.
He was the governor at the time, and he was up for re-election, so I did that.
And that ends the book.
I: It sounds very interesting. I wish you great luck with it.
T: I may publish it myself, you know.
[End of the interview.]