I went to a bank president whom I knew, and who knew me. I remember perfectly how anxious I was to get that loan and to establish myself favourably with the banker. This gentleman was T.P. Handy, a sweet and gentle old man, well known as a high-grade, beautiful character. For fifty years he was interested in young men. He knew me as a boy in the Cleveland schools. I gave him all the particulars of our business, telling him frankly about our affairs—what we wanted to use the money for, etc., etc. I waited for the verdict with almost trembling eagerness.
“How much do you want?” he said.
“Two thousand dollars.”
“All right, Mr. Rockefeller, you can have it,” he replied. “Just give me your own warehouse receipts; they’re good enough for me.”
As I left that bank, my elation can hardly be imagined. I held up my head—think of it, a bank had trusted me for $2,000! I felt that I was now a man of importance in the community.
For long years after the head of this bank was a friend indeed; he loaned me money when I needed it, and I needed it almost all the time, and all the money he had. It was a source of gratification that later I was able to go to him and recommend that he should make a certain investment in Standard Oil stock. He agreed that he would like to do so, but he said that the sum involved was not at the moment available, and so at my suggestion I turned banker for him, and in the end he took out his principal with a very handsome profit. It is a pleasure to testify even at this late date to his great kindness and faith in me.
Mr. Handy trusted me because he believed we would conduct our young business on conservative and proper lines, and I well remember about this time an example of how hard it is sometimes to live up to what one knows is the right business principle. Not long after our concern was started our best customer—that is, the man who made the largest consignments—asked that we should allow him to draw in advance on current shipments before the produce or a bill of lading were actually in hand. We, of course, wished to oblige this important man, but I, as the financial member of the firm, objected, though I feared we should lose his business.
The situation seemed very serious; my partner was impatient with me for refusing to yield, and in this dilemma I decided to go personally to see if I could not induce our customer to relent. I had been unusually fortunate when I came face to face with men in winning their friendship, and my partner’s displeasure put me on my mettle. I felt that when I got into touch with this gentleman I could convince him that what he proposed would result in a bad precedent. My reasoning (in my own mind) was logical and convincing. I went to see him, and put forth all the arguments that I had so carefully thought out. But he stormed about, and in the end I had the further humiliation of confessing to my partner that I had failed. I had been able to accomplish absolutely nothing.