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EP320: An "Ordinary" Cloth With An Extraordinary Story, Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women and Family is at the Heart of this Brewing Icon, The Coors'

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2022 3:05 am

EP320: An "Ordinary" Cloth With An Extraordinary Story, Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women and Family is at the Heart of this Brewing Icon, The Coors'

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 24, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Chris Graham of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia tells the story of one of their objects on display with an extraordinary story we're just now finding out. Kate Moore, author of “Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women”, shares the story of the young women who in 1898 began working in radium factories and discovered the chemical element that glows in the dark. Pete Coors and his daughter Carrie of Coors Banquet Beer tells us how his family prides itself on their commitment to faith, family, education, and servant leadership.

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Time Codes: 

00:00 - An "Ordinary" Cloth With An Extraordinary Story

12:30 - Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

37:00 - Family is at the Heart of this Brewing Icon, The Coors'

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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They're some of our favorites. Up next, a story from the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, about an ordinary object that has an extraordinary story behind it that many didn't know until recently. Here's Chris Graham, curator of exhibitions at the museum with a story. It's a white cloth. It looks like a towel folded up. It's not dyed. It's roughly woven.

I'll be honest with you, not much to look at. And you wouldn't think too much about it because, you know, it's not a gun, it's not a uniform, you know, it's not a sword, but this one very plain artifact witnessed so much during its time. The people that donated this artifact in the early 19th century, I think about 1905, 1907, gave it to the museum and said, this is a piece of cloth that was woven by the Negroes on our plantation. And so the people that donated this object, it is a object that demonstrates that the material shortages in the Confederate States were so bad that we had to weave our own cloth. This is how bad it got for us.

This is how bad we suffered. Also, by identifying it as something that was made by one of their enslaved people, they could say that, yes, they were in it with us in the same way that we were in it. They didn't see runaways. They didn't see self-emancipators. And what that means is that over the course of the 20th century, as those people wrote about and defined what counts as Civil War history, that part of the experience was left out.

But we see that now. It was made on a plantation in Darlington County, South Carolina. It was made by an enslaved person who was enslaved by a man named Mitchell King. Mitchell King was a Scottish immigrant to the United States, but he came over in 1812 or something, I don't remember, but established himself in Charleston.

Became a lawyer, a judge, very well respected, an extremely wealthy man who owned multiple plantations from Georgia to North Carolina, growing chiefly rice. So he had a plantation near Savannah, near to where the United States Army was encroaching on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia early in the war. And wherever the United States Army goes, enslaved people take what chance they can get to escape to it. Enslavers knew this.

They knew it. And they took measures to move their enslaved populations out of the way. And so wherever you see the United States Army going, you see enslaved people running to the Army, but you also see slave owners taking their populations and moving them further inland.

There's this great movement of essentially refugees from freedom, you might say, that are going inland. And so Mitchell King moved the population of his rice plantation near Savannah to Darlington, South Carolina to grow cotton. He purchased a plantation there called Witherspoon Island that had formerly been owned by a man who died and his widow was killed by one of her enslaved people. Occasionally, enslaved people will kill their masters.

And so they're already moving into a fraught landscape. The Witherspoon population of enslaved people were sold off, families broken up, distributed amongst the Witherspoon heirs somewhere else. The Mitchell King family moved their people. About 205 people, 205 people, moved from Savannah to Darlington, South Carolina to grow a crop they didn't know how to grow, to be in a place where they didn't know anyone around them, and to kind of be secure from the temptation to escape to freedom in the United States Army.

And so it's in this context that one of these people wove this piece of cloth. At the end of the war, this population was still on Witherspoon Island Plantation. It wasn't actually an island, it was just the name of the plantation. Mitchell King died during the war, old age, but his son still owned the plantation.

He didn't dispute emancipation. He wanted his people to continue working on that plantation. And so he used the Freedmen's Bureau, an agent from the Freedmen's Bureau, to negotiate a contract with his formerly enslaved population that were now free on the property. And so they worked out a contract for them to work through the rest of the year in 1865 farming cotton in Darlington County. And so this is, you know, perhaps, I don't know the conditions under which they negotiated a contract, but certainly it was maybe the first time in a corporate way that these enslaved people were able to kind of negotiate from a position of freedom on matters and terms that free people negotiate things for.

Contracts for work, labor, pay. At the end of 1865, an interesting thing happens though. The Freedmen's Bureau agent comes back and he looks around and he says, these people you have working for you, they know how to grow rice. They don't know how to grow cotton.

This place looks shabby. You should send them back to Savannah. And that's actually what happened. The population of this plantation up and moved back to Savannah. And the owner of the plantation had to kind of scramble to find laborers from the existing population around him.

And so there's some unknown questions in that. Was this a choice that they made? Were they forced to go back to Savannah? Did they choose on their own to go back to Savannah? Was it because they would rather grow rice than cotton?

I don't know. Was it because they knew people in Savannah? They probably had family on other farms that they knew back there. That was a place that they called home. Maybe they wanted to be there.

Maybe they didn't give a damn about whether they could grow cotton or rice. Maybe they wanted to go home. And now they had this opportunity, you know, whereas in 1862, they were forced to migrate elsewhere.

But now maybe they had, I like to think that they had the choice to migrate again, but on their own terms this time. And a special thanks to Monty Montgomery for the production. And Chris Graham at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia. The story of a white cloth. The story of so much more, including the sovereignty of the individual to live free in this great country. And the story of America's original sin, slavery. All of it here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. A place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to Hillsdale dot edu to learn more. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by Nerd Tech ODT. We recorded it at I Heart Radio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that Nerd Tech ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by Nerd Tech ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

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Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we're back with our American stories. In 1898, radium, the chemical element that glows in the dark, was discovered. And in 1917, young women began working in radium factories. Today, these women are known as the radium girls. Here's Kate Moore, author of Radium Girls, the dark story of America's shining women, with the story of the women who worked in these factories.

Catherine Sharp, a 14-year-old girl from New Jersey going to work on a February day in 1917, thinks she's lucky to work with this miraculous substance that is glamorous and healthful. She was a dial painter, which meant that she painted dials with radioactive, luminous radium paint. Those dials were used for watches and clocks to make them glow in the dark. But the company also produced instruments for ships and warplanes, the dashboards of these transportation vehicles that would make them light up in the dark. And because Catherine is going to work in 1917, America is on the cusp of the First World War, when demand for these glow-in-the-dark instruments is about to boom. And so Catherine is employed to paint these dials with this luminous paint. And because the work is so detailed, the dials so small, she is taught to put her paintbrush between her lips to make this fine point. But Catherine and her colleagues, they all asked, is it safe to do this?

They didn't accept the technique with blind faith. But the company assured them it was safe. And in fact, one of the instructors who worked at these radium firms, he told the girls that the radium would put roses in their cheeks and make them beautiful. And of course, with Catherine reading her magazines and her newspapers, that was exactly what she thought would happen. If you look back through magazines and newspapers, you'll find adverts for a whole range of radium products, for cosmetics, soaps and face powders that will give you a glowing complexion, for a radium health tonic.

People recommended that you took it to ward off middle age and tiredness. So dial painting was known as the elite job for the poor working girls. Dial painters were in the top 5% of female wagers internationally. So Catherine got to work with this glowing, glamorous substance. She was well paid and she got to work with friends.

And the studio was full of camaraderie. They were largely teenagers going out to work. Some of the radium girls were as young as 11. And this artistic nature of the work really appealed to the women. When I looked up the radium girls in their town directories, I found that next to their names it didn't say dial painter as their occupation.

It said artist. When the companies needed more girls, those lucky enough to already have a job promoted the vacancies to their sisters and their cousins and their friends. You ended up with whole sets of siblings painting alongside each other in the studio. They used to have a little game with each other where they'd go into the dark room and they'd paint funny faces with the radium paint.

So they'd paint a comedy moustache or a big eyebrows or a sort of goatee beard on their chin, that kind of thing, just to have a laugh. They mixed their own paints so there was like a luminous dust that they would combine with the other materials to make the paint. And that dust got everywhere. So the women would end up looking like industrious fireflies. They'd be completely covered in this dust. So they used to wear their party frocks to work so that when they went out dancing after work in the speakeasies and the music halls of the 1910s and the 1920s, the radium girls would be the ones on the dance floor shining and shimmering. And as they walked home at night through the dark streets, they would glow like ghosts.

And so they had this nickname, the Ghost Girls. Radium was very recently discovered. It was only discovered in 1898. And when scientists realised that it could destroy human tissue, that you could get a radiation burn, they thought, well, how can we exploit this power? Radium is highly radioactive.

The type of radium that the radium girls were working with has a half-life of 1,600 years, which means for centuries it doesn't diminish in its power. And so scientists wanted to try to harness that power, that indestructible power, as they thought of it. And they thought, well, if it's destroying human flesh, can we utilise this in some way? And they thought, well, let's use radium to treat cancerous tumours.

And it had remarkable results. And we still use radium today to treat certain cancers because it was remarkably effective. And because radium was used to treat cancers successfully, people thought, well, surely it must be a healthful product. And so people thought, OK, well, a large amount we know is dangerous.

That is what is giving us the radiation burns. And so they knew very early on that this substance was dangerous. But the radium girls were working with a tiny amount of radium. And people at that time thought a small amount was safe.

And that is what was put into the cosmetics. That is what was put into the radium water, even the radium chocolate that was sold. It was just a sort of smidgen of radium just to make you feel, as one advertising pamphlet said, you could feel the sparkles inside your anatomy. And people thought that it's indestructible radiation, the fact that it had this half-life of 1,600 years. They thought that perhaps there was the answer to human immortality. I found newspaper articles from the 1920s which was talking about eat radium tablets because doing so will, and I quote, add years to your life. The message was that a small amount was safe. That's what everyone thought about radium in the 1910s and 1920s. But it's one of those things that you look at it now and you think, well, how on earth could they have thought that when it's so destructible in large quantities and, as we now know, it's so destructible even in small amounts? One of the mysteries of radium poisoning is that it's very insidious.

It takes years to show itself and so it wasn't for many years until the girls started suffering. Radium is a bone seeker, so it's very similar biomedically to calcium. We're advised to drink milk because the calcium in the milk makes our bones strong.

So you drink milk, the human body identifies it, it deposits it in the skeletons and it strengthens the bones. They swallowed the radium and their bodies deposited it in their skeletons and there it emanated its immense radioactive power. It varied with each woman when she would begin to get sick but the first women began to suffer after about five years.

So in that time, the war is over now and many of them have moved on to other jobs and other people have left to marry and have children. The symptoms showed themselves in quite an innocuous way to begin with. It might just be an aching tooth or a sore arm or a sore leg, maybe a bit of foot pain that you thought, oh, walking on that a bit funny. And they didn't think it was that serious at first. You know, they'd go to the dentist. Catherine Shave, for example, went to the dentist, said to the dentist, it's this tooth that is hurting and he pulled it but then she found the next tooth started to hurt and then the next tooth and then the next tooth until Catherine didn't have to go to the dentist anymore to have her teeth pulled because they simply fell out and women who found that their legs or their arms were hurting found that that pain got worse and worse until they noticed that their legs began shortening so that one would end up shorter than the other and they found too that their limbs spontaneously fractured because the radium had settled in their skeletons. The doctors didn't know what to do because these women worked with radium, the wonder element, this healthful element, surely it couldn't be their work making them sick. And you're listening to Kate Moore, author of Radium Girls, The Dark Story of America's Shining Women. And my goodness, these young ladies, well, they were doing something they thought was glamorous and fun. They were getting paid well. Heck, walking home at night, they shone and got the nickname ghost girls, but lurking, well, lurking inside them was a poison.

And when we come back, Moore of author Kate Moore, and the book is Radium Girls, The Dark Story of America's Shining Women is here on Our American Stories. can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango. It's true. I had one that night and I took my NeuroTech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NeuroTech ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, NeuroTech ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we return to our American stories and to Kate Moore with the story of the Radium Girls. When we left off last, the Radium Girls had begun feeling ill and were experiencing all sorts of symptoms. The doctors were confused about what was causing these women to become sick.

Let's pick up where we last left off. It was the women in the early days that connected the dots because those family relationships, of course, those sisters and those cousins and their friends, even though they weren't necessarily still working together, they were still connected. They were still seeing each other. And so as they talked about their symptoms and they realized that they were all suffering, even if they were suffering in different ways, they realized that there was something going on and so it was the women initially trying to appeal to the authorities to investigate. The girls fought and fought to even find a lawyer who would take their case. Radium at that time was the most expensive substance on earth.

For a single gram, it retailed for the equivalent today of $2.2 million. So the companies had a lot of money at their disposal and they had a lot of contacts in high places. And of course, they fought back because if people believed the women that it was the radium that had hurt them, all those lucrative industries would come crashing down. So the companies fought back with everything they had. They tried to cover up what was happening. For me, what is so remarkable about the girls is that they were motivated by altruism, by the desire to ensure that no one else would suffer as they were suffering in the future.

And one of my very favorite quotations from the story comes from Grace Fryer, who's one of the New Jersey dial painters, and she's asked when she's finding suit, why are you doing it? And she says, it is not for myself that I care. I am thinking more of the hundreds of other girls to whom this may serve as an example. These women were in such incredible pain. They were poor, they were disadvantaged, they were silenced and discredited, called liars and cheats and frauds by the companies, and yet they used everything they had to fight back against this powerful company that was still putting workers at risk. And so these women gave evidence while they were in pain, while they're wearing steel back braces to keep them erect, having to limp to the stand to give their evidence.

Literally, Catherine Donoghue, an Illinois dial painter, gave evidence at home because she was too sick to get to court, and she's literally using her last breath to speak out because she's so determined that the world should know that radian is dangerous. And Catherine and all the other women just fought back and they made a difference. Eventually, they were believed. Even though they may not have got large settlements, these women were proved right. They had their day in court and they won.

This groundbreaking legal battle to try and hold their employer to account was one of the first such cases in America. And the girls stand through history as a shining example of courage and of what you can achieve if you fight for what you believe in. These women thought they were lucky to be dial painters, they thought it was a fun job, they thought it was a great job. It was just so glamorous, you know, the wages enabled them to buy silks and furs, and so they were the best Rust girls in town, they were so lucky.

And yet all the time, they were unwittingly poisoning themselves with every single dial that they painted every time they put that paintbrush between their lips. And for me, what is so heartbreaking is not only that these women enticed their loved ones into this environment believing they were doing them a favour, but when the Radium Girls story develops and time moves on and the tragedy hits, it's a tragedy that is not just affecting one woman in a family, it's two or three or four or five. And the parents of these girls are having to see their daughters suffer before them.

The women themselves are having to see their loved ones pass away, to see their own fate played out before them. And for me, I think that suffering, that empathy, the fact that this tragedy was so widespread amongst communities and amongst families is partly what encouraged the women to become as inspirational as they became. I went to America to follow in their footsteps, to go to their homes, to their graves, to the sites of the dial painting studios.

But the primary thing that I really wanted to do on my research trip as well was to connect with the families. They were able to share with me the personal details, to learn from Charlotte Purcell's granddaughter that after her grandma had had her arm amputated because of the radium poisoning, she wanted her grandma to teach her how to skip rope. And so her grandma figured out a way to tie rope to a chain-link fence so she could skip rope with just one hand. I described Charlotte washing up and saying she used to wash the frying pan by putting the handle underneath her chin and then scrubbing it as it sort of rested on her chest.

That was how she would do the washing up. One of the most moving interviews for me with the families was speaking to Catherine Dunahue's niece and nephew. And they were able to describe Catherine and her life towards the end of her sickness. And they took me into her sick room and they described the way Catherine liked to keep the shades drawn so the room was dark. But her nephew said that even though the room was dark, there was a light inside it from Catherine herself. The radium that had once made her paintbrush and those dials glow was now in her bones and in her skeleton.

And her nephew said as she lay there on the bed in the darkened room, you could see every bone in her body. And I wanted to look not only at the women, but about their husbands who had to bury their wives, to look at the parents who loved these girls, all these sets of siblings that ended up painting at the studio and these parents having to bury not just one child, not just one daughter, but several. And the children as well of these women having to say goodbye to them knowing that they were going to die, the children having to grow up without their mothers. There is so much tragedy in this story and of course the biggest tragedy of all is that it was avoidable.

The only way you can take hope from it is to ensure that they're not forgotten and to try and ensure that the lessons we can learn from their history are not forgotten. The need for workers' rights. Let their sacrifice mean something. Even in their own lifetimes they were bringing about these legislative changes that could help other workers. Safety standards were put in place that protected not only radium workers, which were very necessary because by the time the women win their case, the Second World War is about to start and a new generation of dial painters is about to be put at risk. But these women brought about safety standards in that field and in all the atomic industries.

And people working today in those industries are protected because of the radium girls and for me they inspire me endlessly. I just became so passionate about their story. I felt this connection with the women even though I'm from England and this was sort of a story that had happened all the way across the nation 4,000 miles away and 100 years in the past. The fact that people all across the world are now learning about Katherine Sharpe and Grace Ryer and Katherine Donahue and all the women that I write about in the book just feels extraordinary and I'm glad they got their story in the end.

And great production and teamwork by our own Robbie and Madison on the piece. And a special thanks to Kate Moore, author of Radium Girls, The Dark Story of America's Shining Women and the one enduring scene etched in my mind of one of the radium girls watching her lay on her bed at night. You could see every bone in her body.

Her body blowed. Again, the story of the radium girls here on Our American Stories. Hey you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTech ODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango? It's true! I had one that night and I took my NerdTech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time.

Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So, lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit uhcmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare.

Helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with our American stories. And up next, we bring you a story from Golden, Colorado, the home of Coors Brewing Company. You'll hear from Pete Coors, former CEO and current chairman of Molson Coors, and his daughter Carrie Tynan, the executive director of the Adolph Coors Foundation. Robbie brings us the story.

Here's Pete. Well, kind of a funny story. I was talking to my uncle about reading the Bible, and he said, I read the Bible. I said, well, I think I've read it cover to cover maybe 13 times. He says, well, you didn't get it the first time?

Pete Coors' commitment to reading the Bible has meant a lot to his daughter Carrie. He's done that as long as I can remember, every morning. But it was more importantly the consistency of Mass every week. It didn't matter where we were, what trip we were on. We could be in the middle of Texas or in the middle of Italy. We were always going to go to Mass.

There was no questions asked. And we all did it. But we joke that, you know, he allowed my mom to be in church and be present because he was at the jungle gym for us to climb all over in our younger years. They were so bad in church. I'd haul them out.

I'd pinch them. And my mom could sit there and be present for church, right? So he did the heavy lifting. I was the master sergeant at arms. You were?

I mean, it's a funny story. Father's Day, we had a church. And I think the hymn was, Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. And they would say, Let there be peace on earth, let it be long with you.

And we'd be driving home and they're fighting. And I got home and I was so angry. They'd given me a Father's Day card. I hadn't opened it and I just ripped it up and said, Okay, I'm done.

I'm going upstairs. And the kids' eyes got big as saucers. They put a $5 bill in that card and they ripped it in half. But they survived me and I survived them. But sometimes just barely. One trip to Rome to see the holy sites wasn't quite so holy. Marilyn and I would have a room and we'd have two rooms. One room with three kids, another room with three kids. We had to be careful that we line them up properly. And we get a call from the front desk that there's this terrible racket going on. So I go down to the room and Peter, was it Peter and Ashley or was Peter and you? Dad, that was before we went to the Vatican and we were dressed in our finest and we were at breakfast. And the couple next to us said they thought there was domestic violence.

Domestic violence going on? In the room next to them. And it was... These guys were like little angels for breakfast the night before.

Peter hung, was it your? Ashley's. Ashley's teddy bear by the ceiling fan.

And Ashley had poured water on his bed and they were screaming. And it was just as pious as they could be for breakfast. Oh, what a beautiful family.

You guys. Being one of six was the most important piece of my upbringing. Because I couldn't, we had to share our time with our parents, with our siblings. It gave us the opportunity to have multiple friends just within our nuclear family. And because there were so many of us, resources were spread.

And the lower you were down the pecking order, the fewer, you know, the more hand-me-downs you had. But you also had built-in babysitters. So there were pros and cons to both sides of it. From an education perspective, our parents always valued education and Catholic education. But it was always based within our community. So community was so important to us. Faith was first, our family was second.

Maybe a close tie would be a better way to say that. Everything we did was centered around that. With the knowledge that the more we learn, the better off we're going to be. Our parents did everything they possibly could to help us advance in our education and to be successful in life. But also teaching us that we wouldn't be handed anything, that we had to work for it. I wanted them to know that I would take care of them through their education.

But when they graduated, they were on their own. But I said, look, you graduate and you get six months. You can take it any time. You can be at home.

You can take it right after college while you're looking for a job. Or if sometime in life you're having challenges and you need a place to go hang out and you get six months. But that's it. You're going to have your own life. It's important to us that we have given them the values to be successful and to lead good lives and be contributing members of society. I've got my life. Marilyn and I have our life. They have to have their life.

We're not going to be around forever anyway. We've kept that one minor exception, but that's been a pretty good way to raise them. You know, I think the other fun story with this is there was a point when my parents had us in six different time zones and seven different tuitions because my mom was also earning her Ph.D. And that's how much our family valued education. We may have been all over the country and my dad was supporting all of us through that. So we had six children in ten years and so a lot of them were going to school, either paying Catholic school tuition or they were going to universities. So it got to be pretty interesting to keep track of everybody.

I had to borrow money at the tax time to pay my taxes to get over the hump. He just upgraded to an Apple Watch. It used to be a Timex watch until about a year ago. Not a Casio or a Timex forever and this helps me keep my appointments.

But I'll never catch up with all the technology that's available now. Another important lesson learned in the Coors household was leadership. From my perspective, watching my dad as a CEO growing up, it taught me and I think my siblings as well the importance of relationships within a business. We would walk anywhere in the company and I think your father and uncle were the same way. So you walk through the company and everyone would say hi to them and they knew everyone's names. They would stop and talk to all of the employees. I don't know how they got much work done. But they would stop to talk to all the employees because the relationships that they had built within the company and then even outside with distributorships. And the distributors was so important to the success of the company and it was really supporting them from the ground up and doing anything their employees needed. So that was a huge value to me, a great takeaway. I used to say my business card should have said chief cheerleader rather than CEO because that's what I felt my major job was. And I still feel that way actually.

It's one of my frustrations today. Obviously I don't know 18,000 employees and I don't know as many employees as I would like to know. Even here in Golden because turnover and retirees and so forth. But I'll be in Golden and be walking down the street and somebody will come up and say Pete how you doing? I said when did you retire?

He said 37 years or 22 years ago or something. And some of these guys third generation working for the company. And they think of it as working for the family, not the company. Having that personal relationship is really, really important. It's one of the things that we try to train our management team is to have that personal relationship.

Now it can be dangerous too. I developed too close a personal relationship with one of our officers and ended up having to terminate him. I had a CEO Leo Kiley who came from Pepsi Frito Lay and he laughed. We were talking about this one time, relationships. He said well I had a VP that I had to fire and he said next Christmas I get a Christmas card from him. I said please I open it up and he said Merry Christmas, you wrecked my life.

So I mean different people respond in different ways. And a special thanks to Robbie and Alex for the storytelling. And a special thanks to Pete Kors and to Carrie Tynan, his daughter, for the storytelling. And we can hear the joy of this father daughter relationship. And we spent a lot of time talking about family. Big or small, the function and the importance of fathers and mothers and family.

Well we love to emphasize that here on this show. I love what Pete said about his kids. They survived me and I survived them, barely. Great storytelling, the Kors family story. No different than families across this great country. We'll be right back here on Our American Stories.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 05:06:57 / 2023-02-16 05:23:44 / 17

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