... One, Simple Telephone Call:
Sexism and chicanery surrounding a farmland property’s mineral rights' matter is exactly why, when I was a junior in high school, Grandpa Willard was fired from Des Moines’ Brenton Bank. 1965. He, at age 45, and my mother had two children in college –– and two others still in high school, planning to attend college.
Willard had himself just left Iowa State University’s Department of Economics and interviewed at 14 different places. With his snow white hair, the man was told always that he was "too old." (Now allegedly a crime but, then — [and … now, … still … of course!] — very much an habitual workplace discrimination.) WHEN ... ... he was a land appraiser, new there in his first year, for this central Iowa bank.
One day he discovered a rock quarry underneath a 33 – year – old widow's property which she, having moved to California, still owned from her and her husband's estate back in Iowa — before the man had suddenly died. Because she desperately needed some money for her two children and from afar then, the single mother had requested the Bank to sell the property, she believing it nothing more than scrubland barely suitable for grazing cattle.
On behalf of this specific Brenton Bank having been asked by the woman to sell it off, Willard, then, was assigned to go out and appraise the property. He found a rock quarry underneath her scrub. When he went back to the bank and told them this, the bank’s officials said that he should call the owner and tell her a $ figure which she would be expecting to hear and that under no circumstance was Willard to give to her .no way / no how. the Truth about it all, let alone, the $ figure which it was actually worth.
The Bank officials planned to buy it all themselves, get its deed into the Bank’s owned records, then to later find an "appropriate" buyer for it such as a rock quarry business —— and, in the end, to give over to the woman in California only the amount from this sale which she would be expecting. To KEEP the rest for themselves.
Nights my mother and father were up late at the kitchen table, about two or three weeks' worth of nights. Then one of those days Daddy no longer had a job — and we were moving back to the farmhouse outside of Williamsburg; Daddy was going to go to work for Holden's, farm a little and walk the watchman's beat evenings and nights over at the Amana Refrigeration Plant 30 minutes’ drive away ... all in one 24 – hour period.
Grandpa Willard had not done what the bankers had ordered him to do.
Never having laid eyes upon the woman then nor since, Willard Maas telephoned her out in California, all right, from our home in Ankeny —— and told her of what he knew. And advised her to, straightaway, get for herself an attorney.
Willard Maas was fired. And, lock – stock – and – barrel, we all left Ankeny.
And I have never dealt, ever, with a Brenton Bank —— since. And will not.
Grandpa Willard was fired --- AND ... BLACKBALLED.
Before he made that telephone call to the woman, the Bank officials had further threatened him, "You tell her, and we will blackball you in all the banks in Iowa.
You will never work in another bank again."
Let alone, in a rural one, thereby ... his actually using the agricultural economics background and education which he had just acquired during his bachelor's and master's programs at Iowa State University, beginning these degrees then at the age of 40, thus becoming the University’s first "older" / “alternative” ISU student in the Spring Quarter of 1960. And because of this endeavor, our family had been written up and featured in the Spring 1961 issue of The Iowan magazine as that: the family of the "first" yada, yada, yada ...
And ... he never did. Willard Maas never again worked in another bank.
Without a doubt, Willard Maas at the second start of his college years (his first two years at Iowa State University having been derailed in 1939, by the poliomyelitis virus) —— as with others' lives similarly ... 'rerouted' —— could not have imagined for them all ... this end result.
No one will ever remember Grandpa Willard for the mighty fine Pendleton wool, bezillion – $ suits and the glove – snug Armani wingtips he never wore nor for the effusive parties he never threw nor for the lavish vacation cruises he never took, not even for the fact that likely due to his huge hearing loss and his brain in general, he did own the finest speaking voice and the most massive vocabulary of anyone I have ever, ever known.
But Righteous Ancestor Willard Maas .WILL. be remembered for ——
this one, simple telephone call.