Since these Reminiscences are really what they profess to be, random and informal, I hope I may be pardoned for setting down so many small things.
In looking back over my life, the impressions which come most vividly to my mind are mental pictures of my old associates. In speaking of these friends in this chapter, I would not have it thought that many others, of whom I have not spoken, were less important to me, and I shall hope to refer to this subject of my early friends in a later chapter.
It is not always possible to remember just how one first met an old friend or what one’s impressions were, but I shall never forget my first meeting with Mr. John D. Archbold, who is now a vice-president of the Standard Oil Company.
At that time, say thirty-five or forty years ago, I was travelling about the country visiting the point where something was happening, talking with the producers, the refiners, the agents, and actually getting acquainted.
One day there was a gathering of the men somewhere near the oil regions, and when I came to the hotel, which was full of oil men, I saw this name writ large on the register:
John D. Archbold, $4.00 a bbl.
He was a young and enthusiastic fellow, so full of his subject that he added his slogan, “$4.00 a bbl.,” after his signature on the register, that no one might misunderstand his convictions. The battle cry of $4.00 a barrel was all the more striking because crude oil was selling then for much less, and this campaign for a higher price certainly did attract attention—it was much top good to be true. But if Mr. Archbold had to admit in the end that crude oil is not worth “$4,00 a bbl.,” his enthusiasm, his energy, and his splendid power over men have lasted.
He has always had a well-developed sense of humour, and on one serious occasion, when he was on the witness stand, he was asked by the opposing lawyer:
“Mr. Archbold, are you a director of this company?”
“What is your occupation in this company?”
He promptly answered, “To clamour for dividends,” which led the learned counsel to start afresh on another line.
I can never cease to wonder at his capacity for hard work. I do not often see him now, for he has great affairs on his hands, while I live like a farmer away from active happenings in business, playing golf, planting trees; and yet I am so busy that no day is long enough.
Speaking of Mr. Archbold leads me to say again that I have received much more credit than I deserve in connection with the Standard Oil Company. It was my good fortune to help to bring together the efficient men who are the controlling forces of the organization and to work hand in hand with them for many years, but it is they who have done the hard tasks.