Wednesday, July 14, 2010

George Who?

July 14, 2010

George Who?

In the spring of 1984, during my third year at Benjamin Cardozo Law School, I flew down to West Palm Beach Florida to go the funeral of my mother’s second husband, Artie. I wanted a window seat in the smoking section, in the days when we were still smoking, even on airplanes. I wound up in the next to the last row of the plane, near the stewardesses station where they prepared the lunches and snacks for the passengers, another disappearing custom from the new no-frills, low-service flight plans of today. Dressed for flight, in an elegant business suit, appropriate jewelry, make-up, all the usual preparations for air travel that are now quaint customs of the past along with smoking on airplanes, I was gazing out the window when a tall, grey-haired, age-appropriate handsome looking man came striding up the aisle from the First Class Section towards the stewardesses’ station, while people waved at him from their seats, calling out “Hi George.” “How are you George?” to my utter mystification.

“George who?” I wondered looking at him without the slightest idea of who this George could be. . He started to exchange some pleasantries with the young stewardesses, and then promptly sat down right next to me in the aisle seat. We began to chat and exchange personal information. He told me he lived at the Carlisle when he was in New York and was now on his way to Tampa to take care of his race horses. I told him about my visit to Florida and told him I had gone back to law school now that my children were grown. He told he spent all day with his lawyers yesterday and gave them over a million dollars a year. I asked him who his lawyers were. He told me they were Shea and Gould, a big New York City law firm.

“I’d love to have an interview with Shea and Gould”, I said.

“I can arrange that.” He replied.

“Who is this guy?” I wondered.

We spoke of the presidential campaign. I told him I was helping Gary Hart. He told me he was waiting for Lee Iacocca to make his move. In the course of further conversation about politics, world hunger, our children, he said, “And then I bought the Yankees in 1973!”

I finally realized I was sitting next to George Steinbrenner and chatting away without even knowing who he was. The plane stopped in Orlando where he got off to make his connection to Tampa.

“Don’t forget to send me your resume for that interview”, he said, waving good-by.

I mailed him a note and my resume to the Carlisle and one week later I got a call from Shea & Gould to come in for a job interview. I went into the Senior Partner’s office in the corner office with the wrap around windows and sat down in front of his desk. He looked at my resume and looked up at me said, “That must have been one hell of a plane ride!”