History is written by the victors.
–Winston S. Churchill
I have this personal pet theory. It goes a little something like this:
What do I mean by this? It’s time for a tale of hungry dogs, drowning by garden hose, buxom secretaries, altered birth certificates and who’s car is parked next door.
Who writes history? Who is remembered as great? And what does money have to do with it and does it matter how great wealth was acquired?
Much of what follows is based on the premise of private property. It’s based on the assumption that it is somehow moral for individuals to amass and own vast amounts of wealth. Whether you agree with me on this point or not, let’s review how it makes people behave.
When you read about the rich and famous and their plethora of accolades, it’s funny how some pertinents seem to be left out. If I was a negative sort I’d almost think it was like someone was trying to whitewash history.
Helen Kinney was born in 1922. While working as a secretary at a dairy company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, circa 1951, she became pregnant by a coworker. She was 29. She married the father, coworker John Hunt, then, two weeks later and in a different county, obtained a divorce. Along with her mother she fled to San Diego, California, where she gave birth to a son.
Soon after Helen Hunt was employed at the San Diego Union newspaper where she met publisher James S. Copley who, although married, became smitten with the “svelte brunette.” He made her his personal secretary. Then, by 1965, he divorced his wife leaving her with their two adopted children and married Helen. Jim adopted her son whose birth certificate was altered to eliminate any reference to his birth father. She was now known as Helen S. Copley.
When Jim died in 1973 at the age of 57, Helen (who was 48 at the time) became the sole owner of the newspaper. She moved to freeze out his children from his first marriage. They sued and by 1982 Helen settled the case for a “sizable, undisclosed sum.”
You’ll find most of these sordid details strangely absent when reading about things like Helen’s Horatio Alger award and being lauded in various articles with words like: philanthropist, pillar, trailblazer and “role model for women of all ages.”
My point isn’t that she was a bad person. It’s that some of the truth about her seems to have been set aside.
The tale of Joan Mansfield is, in many respects, strangely similar. Born in 1928 she was married in 1945. Her husband went on to become a franchisee of McDonald’s Restaurants. That led to Joan meeting married businessman Ray Kroc, CEO of McDonalds, at a corporate party in 1957. The party was held at a bar where Joan was playing piano. Joan, described as a “buxom blond,” was 27. Ray was 53. Both were married.
Later, Ray Kroc would admit in his autobiography that he was “stunned by her blond beauty.”
They carried on a secret relationship for the next six years until they both divorced their spouses and married in 1969.
When Ray Kroc died in 1984 Joan inherited his “fortune” including the San Diego Padres baseball team. She would also go on to be a philanthropist and what not.
Ray Kroc, for his part, amassed his fortune with business philosophies like these:
- “I believe in God, family, and McDonald’s. And in the office, that order is reversed.”
- “If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water. It is ridiculous to call this an industry. This is not. This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I’ll kill ’em, and I’m going to kill ’em before they kill me. You’re talking about the American way – of survival of the fittest.”
- When the McDonald brothers didn’t want to sell Kroc his first store, he opened up a McDonald’s across the street (called “Big M”) in order to drive them out of business and convince them he was the right man for the job.
Just in case they forget to include some of these adulterous, salacious, extramarital details and the like on the various statues and buildings carrying their names, I thought I’d be helpful and pass them along so history won’t forget. It just doesn’t sit right to remember people based on how they preferred to be remembered versus actual truth. If not, why bother with reality at all?
Sources used in this post: