Hartzog – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Let’s move on to your tenure as director, Mr. Hartzog. When you became director what in your previous background and experience did you find most useful, maybe something out of your experience at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Are there things you could point to when you became director and say, “Well, I know this, because of my past [experience],” that kind of thing?

Well, I was very fortunate. [In 1955] when I was the assistant superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park, the government didn’t have any training for senior-level managers. The American Management Association gave the government eight scholarships to the managers program taught by the American Management Association at the old Hotel Astor in New York. I received one of those scholarships. Of course, the program was heavily supported by industry. Characters in my particular class came from Hughes, or from AT &T, Libby [Corporation]. All of those big-name companies had their mid-level managers at this program.

It was chaired by Laurence Appley, the chairman of the American Management Association, who had been the vice president of an international oil company and his domain was the eastern part of Asia. As he related to us, in his office there were two people, himself and his secretary. He pointed out that the reason was, “My managers in the field, when they had a problem, wanted to discuss it with me and not an assistant to me. And therefore I didn’t need any staff.” It was that tenor of the responsibility of a leader that I developed through that management program. I have a concept of management which I felt was pretty well grounded and was unique in terms of government service, because I never encountered that in the government.

I mean, the government was looked on as something different. I think one of the problems with government [work] today is [that] it is looked on as something different and something anybody can do. As long as it is politically acceptable, [you will have the attitude that] anybody can do government work, at any level. And that’s not true. Some of the most difficult, sophisticated management responsibilities in the world are done by government employees. I now have spent about half of my life in government and about half of my life as a private practicing attorney, and I would say between the two I have met more talented people in government than I have in private enterprise. There are a lot of advantages in private enterprise that don’t work in government, such as [family wealth] inheritance, that give people prominence and position and authority. They don’t get that advantage in government.

So you had a concept of management in mind.

That was different than anything.… Then I went to St. Louis, and when I got [there] I discovered that I was not the first choice for St. Louis. I got the position because I was the last guy who would agree to go. They had offered the job to any number of more senior people who turned it down. They didn’t want any part of it. And as one of my friends wrote to me, “What in the hell did you do now that got you to St. Louis?”

Why did you want it then?

Because I wanted an opportunity in any shape, manner, or form. I was on the make. I think that’s a modest way of putting it, don’t you, Bill?

W.E.– Accurate.

G.H.– I thought it was an opportunity. When I got there I had a fantastic surprise, because the mayor of the city of St. Louis, Raymond R. Tucker, who turned out to be a mentor and a friend beyond compare, had issued an ultimatum to the director that if the project wasn’t under contract by July 1, he was going to make arrangements for somebody else to take it over, because he had been waiting for four years after the money had been appropriated for the Park Service to do something. I was unaware of that when I was appointed in December 1958 to report for duty in February.

The first thing I learned when I got there was that the relocation of the railroad tracks contract was to be under way by July 1, and they hadn’t even finished preparing the plan yet. There were fifteen organizations that had to review and concur on those plans, from labor unions, to railroads, to the city. So I was involved in a project for which I was only technically the final decision-maker. But to make that decision stick, I had to have the support and agreement of all of these people, any one of whom could bomb the project.

I learned a lesson in how to challenge people to something bigger than themselves, because when we got the plans for the railroad relocation from Eero Saarinen’s4 office it was May. This was the first time anybody had seen those plans. And they had to be reviewed and approved by all of these agencies, including the state corporation commission, which controlled all corporations in the state of Missouri. I had tried to explain to my superiors in the Park Service that the normal Park Service review was never going to cut July 1, because you had to send those plans to the regional office. That became a month-long process and we didn’t have a month. We had less than two months left to get it [the railroad track relocation project] under contract.

I prevailed upon my regional director, Howard Baker. He was a remarkably fine man, whom, when I became the director, I made my associate director for operations. I said, “Howard, we’ve got to get everybody in a room, and we’ve got to let Saarinen’s people explain these plans, and they’ve got to sign off. We’ve got to go to contracting on a unit-cost basis, so much for a yard of excavation, so much for a yard of concrete, so much for a cross tie, so much for a foot of steel track, a unit-cost basis for everything, and we’re not going to know how much it costs until we’re finished. All we can have is an engineer’s estimate against which to open for bids. The bids have to be evaluated on the unit cost, who is offering us concrete the cheapest, and what is the aggregate sum of that.” “Absolutely no way can it be done that way. It has to be a lump-sum contract,” my superiors contended. Well, fortunately for me he [Baker] came to the plan review meeting. And when he saw the condition and the issue laid out in front of him, he immediately agreed we would be able to go to bid on a unit-price basis. The result was that we had the groundbreaking ceremony for the railroad relocation project on June 23. We made it by seven days. That was one of my first projects.

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Left to right: St. Louis Mayor Ray Tucker, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Congressman Tom Curtis, George B. Hartzog, Jr., Morton D. “Buster” May, Chair of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association. Superintendent Hartzog points out proposed features of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, c. 1960. Harold Ferman, photographer. (National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection, Harpers Ferry Center.)

 

The second project was getting Bill [Everhart], because nobody had yet decided what the story was, what the story of expansion was. We were going to build the largest museum in the history of the National Park Service on the largest subject (westward expansion) that the National Park Service had ever been charged with interpreting and [we] hadn’t written the first chapter yet. I had a park historian who was more interested in being a superintendent than he was in being a historian. So I arranged for him to become a superintendent. Then I had to find a historian, and that’s how I found Bill, from the first promotion list.

That’s how you met Mr. Everhart?

And that was another thing about park management I found out. The first list they sent me, the guy at the top of it was a guy they were trying to get rid of at the park he was in.

So he was recommended superlatively. Everything was superlative. I didn’t call the regional director in whose region he served. I called his friends, because we shared some mutual friends. I knew who he was. I didn’t know his competence. I called them and they were the ones who said to me, “They’re trying to get rid of him. They’re trying to unload him. He’s incompetent. He’s a nice guy, but he’s over his head.”

I took that list and I got on a railroad train from St. Louis to Omaha, Nebraska, and I walked into [Regional Director] Howard Baker’s office and I handed him the list and I said, “You can have them. I don’t want them. The one I want I found from these many telephone calls, a guy named Bill Everhart, who’s working for the [historic sites] survey team in San Francisco.” Howard said to me, “Hell, he’ll never go to St. Louis.” I said, “Have you asked him?” He said, “No, I just know he won’t come.” I said, “Well, I want him on the list, number one, and you can put anybody else you want on it. But you put Bill Everhart on the list first and give it to me, and I’ll go back to St. Louis, and then I’ll tell you whether he’ll come or not.” So I called him [Bill Everhart], and, of course, Howard was right. Bill wanted to know who this idiot was on the phone talking with him, [asking him] to leave San Francisco to come to St. Louis in the first place, in the second place, to undertake a project which nobody had even started, let alone described the dimensions of it, and he didn’t have anybody to help.

So what convinced you to go, Mr. Everhart?

W.E.– Let me tell you why I was available. About two months before that I had gotten a call from Omaha. They had an opening for a person who would be in charge of exploring new areas in the Rocky Mountains. Wonderful. So I came back to my wife, who was from Canada, and I mentioned the possibility of going there. In all my married life I’ve never heard her use a four-letter word before, but what she said was, “Where in the hell is Omaha?” It suggested to me something, so I turned the job down and was available [for another assignment].

Of course, being in the Park Service, I did the same thing on [George] that he did on me. I hadn’t heard much about him, so I started checking around and seeing what kind of job, what kind of program he had. It just seemed a fantastic opportunity so I took it. But I was called up for jury duty in San Francisco and I went to report that I was going to be moving out. The judge said, “Where are you moving to?” “St. Louis.” The judge said, “My goodness, from San Francisco?” We both sort of felt the same way. What a great town San Francisco is—but it worked out.

As George was saying, both he and I were working with Eero Saarinen. I mean working with the guy meant you in turn brought in the best possible people that you could get and those people changed our minds about design, all kinds of design, and so forth. Yes, I started work.

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