The Boy Who Listened To Rockefeller
Cyrus Eaton, a theological student from Pugwash, N.S., went to dinner with the richest man in the world fifty years ago. There he relearned the Parable of the Talents and forsook the pulpit for the earthy heaven of the multimillionaire
DURING THE year 1900 when John D. Rockefeller was the richest man on earth he entertained at Forest Hill, his estate in Cleveland, Ohio, a seventeen-year-old Baptist theological student called Cyrus Eaton who came from the skimpy village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, and believed it was wicked to amass wealth.
Rockefeller, sensing the tender idealism of his guest, delivered a dinner-table homily on the art of emulating Croesus without offending Christ, and the budding young clergyman marveled as at a revelation.
Eaton’s plans for spreading The Light through the Baptist ministry were quickly modified to suit a iun spiritual medium. He soon applied himself to illuminating the fast-growing Middle West with the sort of incandescence that comes not from the pulpit but the gasworks.
Ten years later, at twenty-seven, he was worth between three million and four million dollars. But he never missed a Sunday at church.
During the early Thirties, when depression struck and he lost one hundred million dollars, he clung to his faith in total immersion and got it all back.
Today, at seventy, he dominates vast iron, steel, coal and railroad interests in Canada and the United States and is reputed to be among the twenty richest men on this continent. But now he attributes his position to a religious philosophy drawn from sources far beyond the limits of his early Baptist creed. “It comes down,” he says, “to Spinoza’s axiom: ‘No regrets; no fears.’ ”
Cyrus Eaton is one of the most controversial financiers of this century. His enemies say he dons a saintly mask from behind which he mutters orders that push corporations around like pawns. His friends praise his scholarly grasp of modern business complexities and ethics.
Eaton is chairman of Otis and Company, a Cleveland banking house which has battled such Wall Street titans as Morgan Stanley and Company and Kuhn Loeb and Company. He is chairman of the Portsmouth Steel Corporation, a holding company with heavy interests in the one-hundredmillion-dollar Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company and the eighty-million Detroit Steel Company. He is the biggest stockholder in the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company which has assets of nine hundred
millions. He is a director of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company and of the West Kentucky Coal Company, both among the foremost in their field.
In Canada Cyrus Eaton is best known as the chairman of Steep Rock Iron Mines, in western Ontario. These were first tapped by draining a lake at great financial hazard in 1942, today produce two million tons of ore a year and, within the next few years, may step up output to ten million tons a year. Recently Eaton announced the discovery of big new iron-ore fields three hundred miles north of the Labrador-Quebec claims which will be opened next year.
The influence of Rockefeller on Eaton’s life is patent and the parallel between their two careers is so marked that many believe the proselyte regards himself as a living miniature of the master who died in 1937.
Both left scuff-knuckled farming communities to free their trammeled intellects in the city. Both impressed early superiors by fulfilling the Alger ideal of piety, prudence, diligence and vigilance for opportunity. Both eschewed the vulgarities of tycoons and climbed ever upward, with ascetic detachment, to that Olympus on which gather the few who can find full self-expression only in hundreds of millions.
CYRUS EATON, NOW 70, KEEPS "IN THE PINK”
Eaton’s image jumps into the minds of intimates whenever anybody speaks of a man “in the pink of condition.” He is six feet tall and weighs about one hundred and seventy pounds. When he moves it is with the elasticity of one thirty years his junior.
His snow-white hair is thick and close-cropped. His blue eyes sparkle with animation at recollection of his Homeric market battles. His features glow with a clarity which springs from hot water with every meal to aid digestion, and his nostrils are flared through years of inhaling great gulps of what he describes as “our cool clean northern air.”
Although he has an extensive vocabulary Eaton overworks the word “wholesome.” He is softly spoken and so punctilious of manner that he helps young men on with their overcoats.
Eaton often works twelve and fourteen hours a day #nd travels thousands of miles a month. Last Jan ~Y>ry, within the space of a week, he was in Cleveland, Toronto, Montreal, New York and Washington without showing a trace of fatigue or a rumpled cuff.
For years he has preached social and economic gospels which in his own sphere amount to heresy; steeped himself in a catholic range of classical literature; chosen the company of scholars in preference to fellow magnates; fearlessly challenged superior financial forces in struggles for controlling interest in corporations; and left antagonists bruised and bewildered by whirling stockmarket conflicts in which they knew not whether they were grappling with a priest or a pirate.
In Cleveland, where Eaton has lived ever since his first fortuitous meeting with Rockefeller, there is a financial editor who says: “All his life he’s
been a fighter. Some of the ‘boys’ in this town have been trying to get him for years. But I guess he’s too fit for them.”
The smooth and contemptuous manner in which Eaton took nineteen million dollarsoff the notorious Samuel Insull in the late Twenties has never been forgotten in Cleveland. During one of Eaton’s law cases an opposition lawyer declared bitterly: “I
deeply disapprove of using other people’s money to secure industrial power. I think industry should be governed by industrialists and not by investment bankers whether they are Mr. Insull or Mr. Eaton.”
Many times he has been accused of pulling fast deals and has perpetuated the Rockefeller tradition by answering for his actions before Congressional committees. He has always succeeded in vindicating himself.
About six years ago his banking firm of Otis and Company contracted to underwrite ten million dollars’ worth of new stock in the Kaiser-Frazer automobile corporation. On the day before the stock was due for issue Otis and Company repudiated the deal. This caused a sensation in financial circles and shook confidence in Kaiser-Frazer. The car makers sued for damages and were awarded more than two million dollars. Last year the federal Court of Appeal quashed the decision and upheld Eaton’s plea that Kaiser-Frazer had misrepresented profits to Otis and Company.
William R. Daley, president of Otis and Company, often called “Eaton’s sidekick,” told a Press conference that Eaton had “saved the public millions of dollars by refusing to be a party to the sale of the stock.”
Eaton is often under fire in Cleveland for his reputed hostility to Senator Robert Taft. Although Eaton has Republican sympathies he was accused in 1951 of contributing thirty thousand dollars to the campaign funds of a United Mine Workers candidate who fought unsuccessfully against Taft in the 1950 election. The legal limit, it was argued, was five thousand dollars and Eaton was alleged to have given the rest in the name of employees. Eaton defended himself by a straight rebuttal of the legal argument. “There is,” he said, “absolutely no limit under Ohio law to contributions in a state campaign.”
Recently he aroused the ire of Taft men once more by lending more than seven million dollars to the staff of the Cincinnati Enquirer so that they could buy the newspaper from the estate which owned it, save it from folding, and carry on the fight against Taft publications.
Eaton says he believes in increasing employee participation in industry and made the loan partly as a concrete expression of his views and partly because it was a good business deal.
Some years ago he told A. L. Caron, a Montreal financier, that business ethics in Canada were much higher than those prevailing in the United States. He said recently that in the U. S. “it would appear there is no pity for those who falter. When a man is having tough sledding his stock is cheaper to buy and that is all that matters. Instead of helping him up it is traditional to push him over and take all he's got. I have seen men ruined by the raising of an eyebrow at mention of their credit.”
Eaton claims to be the only man alive of a group which controlled Middle West industry at the time of the 1929 stock-market crash. “The rest of them,” he says, “were all killed by the shock of the disaster.”
When the smoke of that catastrophe cleared, disclosing the prostrate forms of many Ohio giants, a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter noted Cyrus Eaton still driving to work in his open car behind a chauffeur, smiling serenely.
Eaton’s ancestors were a mixture of immigrant Scots and United Empire Loyalists. When he was born in 1883 and christened Cyrus Stephen Eaton his father ran a small farm and general store at Pugwash, N.S., a few miles east of the New Brunswick border. It was a poor farming and fishing district then, remote from urban markets in Quebec and Ontario and deprived of natural markets in New England by tariffs.
Eaton was one in that great exodus of Maritime youth which produced men like Andrew Bonar Law, Lord Beaverbrook and Sir James Dunn. But early hardships never enveloped him in the flinty shell so common to self-made men of his generation. Since childhood he has been celebrated for the softness and gentility of his manner.
“I’ll never forget the first day he came into the schoolroom at Pugwash,” says Dr. G. W. O’Brien, now of Amherst, N.S. “He had the bluest eyes, the fairest hair and the pinkest cheeks you ever saw and he was the envy of all the ladies and a perfect little gentleman. He still is one of the best-looking men this country ever produced.”
Eaton was an excellent scholar and the pet of his teacher Margaret King, after whom, years later, he was to name a new elaborately equipped school he endowed in Pugwash.
His father, the late Joseph Howe Eaton, once said: “When he was six years old I could leave
him in the store for hours alone and he never failed my confidence. His qualifications for the world of big business are brains and absolute trustworthiness.”
When Eaton was fourteen his idol was his uncle Charles A. Eaton, who years later became a famous United States Congressman and a molder of American foreign policy, and who died last January at eighty-four. .
Uncle Charles had joined the Baptist ministry after a spell as a reporter in Toronto. Cyrus Eaton says it was a true sense of vocation that took him, in turn, to Woodstock College, the Baptist college at Woodstock, Ont. There he proved one of the most devout and brilliant of students. During the holidays he went to stay with his Uncle Charles who was only fourteen years older and more like a brother, and who now was minister at Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, in Cleveland,
Among Uncle Charles’ social commitments—he called them “Command Performances”— were dining and golfing with John D. Rockefeller, the pillar of the congregation. At dinner the conversation was a nicely balanced blend of religion and finance. At golf the players made their way around Rockefeller’s flat course on bicycles. The others had to pedal but Rockefeller was pushed by a hired man.
One night in 1900 Cyrus Eaton was summoned with his Uncle to a “Command Performance.” When he sat down at table Eaton was still intent on the Baptist ministry and convinced that the road to hell was paved with stocks and bonds. Then Rockefeller talked. When he arose Cyrus Eaton believed that the way to heaven was lined with factories which provided better jobs for people from places like Pugwash.
To fit himself for the Rockefeller interpretation of Christianity Eaton paid his way through McMaster University, then in Toronto, by clerking in the evenings and, during the holidays, acting as assistant to an assistant secretary in the Rockefeller entourage. Eaton’s refined and sober character must have impressed the old man for later he was called on to take part in the entertaining of guests, in the manner of a royal aide.
After graduating in 1905 his first job was with the East Ohio Gas Company, in which Rockefeller was interested. One of his assignments was to conI ciliate the hundreds of householders who were protesting against their lawns being torn up as the company laid natural-gas pipes in Ohio townships. His task was complicated by the artificial-gas company, which feared the competition and put out lurid stories about the explosive elements in natural gas.
The number of voices raised against natural gas was so great that Eaton found it impossible to silence them all individually. He soon realized that most of the complaints accumulated in great sheafs of wrathful correspondence on the desks of town councilors whose political future began to hang on the issue. So Eaton went to work with his lutelike tongue on the councilors and persuaded them that since natural gas was going to be available at half the price of artificial gas its superiority was indisputable, its eventual victory inevitable, and opposition to it a bad example of politicians working to protect entrenched interests. The councilors were impressed and joined the natural-gas camp. The complaints of citizens soon ceased.
Today Eaton recalls with satisfaction that the artificial-gas company, which rejected many offers to join the natural-gas enterprise, went bankrupt.
Established as a diplomat, Eaton was chosen by a group of New York syndicates to head off into the western Canadian - American border country and get franchises from local councils to run gas and electricity plants. By late 1906 he had a fistful and the future i looked rosy. Early in 1907, however, there was a run on the banks in the United States and panic set in. No money was forthcoming to float the utilities for which Elaton had franchises. Eaton was left high and dry. When he wrote the syndicates asking what he should do with the franchises they replied abruptly: “Sweat it out
Around this time he got a letter from his father asking if he were successful.
“Far from it,” he replied. “But l have not lost my faith. If I keep on going straight I will win through eventually.”
He was in Brandon, Man., at the time and had a franchise to run the city’s electricity plant. He couldn’t raise enough money in Brandon to float the company. Eaton discovered that the Wall Street panic had not affected Canada. So, at twenty-three, he went to a Montreal bank and borrowed
enough on his franchise to provide Brandon with electricity himself.
The company flourished and Eaton quickly sold out to the Province of Manitoba. Now he had capital. By Dec. 1907 he had floated utilities in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and several other states and married Margaret House, a Cleveland girl. In 1910 his father came to visit them from Pugwash. Cyrus Eaton met him at the station.
“Dad,” he said, “what would you do if you had a million dollars?”
“I would buy everything I wanted in the world,” said his father.
“Well,” said Eaton, “I have between three and four millions and 1 don’t know what to do with them.”
He decided there was no alternative but to make more.
By 1912 he had consolidated all his holdings in a single company called the Continental Gas and Electricity Corporation. Soon afterward, through the Cleveland banking house of Otis and Company, he melted Continental into the massive United Light and Power Company and thus became; chairman of the biggest utilities group in the United States.
In heating and lighting Eaton was czar. In Cleveland his rivals began to speak of him apprehensively as the Merger Sphinx.
He became a partner in Otis and Company and night after night at home began studying the intricacies of that queen of all industries—steel. After
a few years he found a weak spot through which he felt he could break into this challenging field.
From the outside he began to study the affairs of an Ohio firm called the Trumbull Steel Company which was then in difficulties and administered by a three-man committee. He laid his plans as secretly as if he had been plotting a military operation.
In 1925, when he was forty-two, he strode in on the committee and baldly offered to finance the firm back to solid ground. “I figure,” he said quietly, “that it will take eighteen million dollars to do the job.”
The committee gasped. This stranger had hit on precisely the same figure as themselves. When they got over the shock they let him know they had never heard of him and didn’t believe he had the money.
“Gentlemen,” said Eaton, “if you doubt my ability to underwrite this sum please telephone the Cleveland Trust Company and ask them whether this cheque for twenty million dollars will be honored.”
GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE
They did. It was. And Trumbull’s was Eaton’s.
He merged Trumbull’s with many other steel companies and in 1930 founded the Republic Steel Corporation, third biggest in the United States, an amalgamation boasting assets, enormous for those days, of three hundred and fifty million dollars.
Eaton then turned his attention to the rubber industry mushrooming in neighboring Akron and began to collect companies as if he were playing a game of Happy Families.
In the early Thirties he was at the apex of his might, a power behind the scenes of the United Power and Light Company, Republic Steel Corporation, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, B. F. Goodrich Company and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. These were the giants in his grasp and for every one of them he controlled half a dozen lesser enterprises.
By now he was an aloof figure, like his mentor Rockefeller reclusive and suspicious. He was notorious for sidetracking newspapermen with polite but adroit evasions. His main recreation was riding to foxhounds and he had a fine stable of hunters. Once some reporters gathered outside his home were amazed to see him trotting up to them with evident pleasure. When he learned they were from the daily papers little dabs of angry crimson suffused his pink cheeks and he galloped away. Eaton had been under the impression they were all from a horsey magazine.
Throughout the delicate merger negotiations he had found time to meet that crafty and later discredited Genghis Khan of Chicago share pushers, Samuel Insull, in personal combat.
One Hundred Million Shrinkage
Eaton began to buy stock in Insull companies. Fearing he was after control Insull began to buy in competition. From 1926 to 1929 the two bid against each other furiously. The battle enervated Insull’s companies which he drained of funds to buy stock at artificially high prices. Around 1929 Eaton gave up buying Insull stock and Insull associates quickly bought back all he had purchased. Somewhere along the line Eaton was reported to have made a profit of nineteen millions. Soon after the stock-market crash of Oct. 1929 Insull fled to Greece leaving behind thousands of investors whose investments he had dissipated.
It was in 1930 that Eaton himself began to feel the shock of attack. He was the largest stockholder in Youngstown Sheet and Tube which was on the point of merger with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Eaton considered the terms of the merger unfair to Sheet and Tube. Arrayed against him were James A. Campbell, chairman of Sheet and Tube, Eugene Grace, president of Bethlehem, and Charles M. Schwab, the steel king.
Both sides threw millions of dollars into the race for control of Sheet and Tube and into a legal argument which dragged on for two years in the courts. Eaton lost the fight for control of the stock but defeated the merger scheme. His partial victory turned to ashes as, one by one, the companies in which he was interested were being forced into receivership by the depression. His personal investments were immense and the popular estimate of his total losses was one hundred million dollars.
Today, with characteristic understatement, he says: “My affairs
underwent a considerable shrinkage. But I did not lose everything.” Intimates say he was on his back. If this were true then he sprang upright again with the resilience of an acrobat on a trampolin.
Eaton laid much of the blame for the depression at the feet of Wall Street banking houses and, as chairman of Otis and Company, went after the business of half a dozen of them. In 1938 he succeeded in wresting thirty million dollars’ worth of Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company financing from Morgan Stanley and Company and Kuhn Loeb and Company, traditional bankers for most U. S. railroads. He did this by the simple procedure of offering to pay one and a half million dollars more than the price the Wall Street bankers insisted that the bonds were worth.
This was the first of a series of similar moves and it ¿'esulted in the U. S. Inter-State Cnerce Commission enforcing competíL>on among bankers in all major railroad financing.
Eaton’s clear mind and lucid tongue were at their best in 1942 when the American steel industry first realized that its supposedly limitless resources of iron ore in the Mesabi range of Minnesota were drying up. Rockefeller had been the first to detect the value of Mesabi iron. Now Eaton was the first to look to Canada for new supplies. He raised twenty million dollars from government and private sources in the U. S. and Canada to probe the highly speculative iron-ore bodies at Steep Rock.
The ore lay at thç bottom of a lake fifteen miles long, four miles wide, forty feet deep. Some engineers shook their heads when Eaton’s men began to bore a tunnel upward from a lower level in a valley through two thousand feet of solid rock to puncture the bottom of the lake. The tunnel cost between three and four hundred thousand dollars and the pessimistic experts said it would get clogged with rocks and hold the water in just as surely as the lake bed.
When the tunnelers were within twenty feet of the lake bed they planted dynamite, set time fuses, and ran. Eaton says he suffered one of the most tense periods of his life while waiting for the explosion.
Soon there was a deep subterranean rumble. Then, from the tunnel’s outlet away down the valley, hundreds of spectators saw a plume of smoke puffed into the air. A second later huge boulders were shot out like balls from a cannon. They were followed by a rampaging flood of water which hurled debris in all directions. The water kept on gushing. The lake was being steadily drained. And Eaton was seen to raise his right hand in an ecclesiastical gesture of joy and blessing.
Many thought Eaton was dragging his feet in the Labrador-Quebec area when Jules Timmins, the Montreal mining millionaire, -“nited the Hollinger Gold Mines, of Off ario, and Hanna Steel Corporation, of Cleveland, in a two - hundred - million - dollar railroad venture to tap vast iron resources at Burnt Creek, three hundrea and sixty miles north of Seven Islands on the St. Lawrence.
But, in fact, Eaton prospectors had been working for two years south of the Timmins claims without success. Early this year Eaton reported important finds three hundred miles north of the Timmins iron, on the tip of the Ungava Peninsula. It is not such high-grade ore as Timmins’ but it is near a natural harbor and can be removed directly by vessels. Eaton says the logical market for this ore will be England and Western Europe and shipments will be dependent on a solution to the dollar problem. There are many other technical snags to be ironed out. But he believes “this easily mined ore will form the basis of an important new industry in northern Quebec.”
The Portsmouth Steel Corporation has a suite of offices on the twenty-fifth floor of the Terminal Towers Building, Cleveland. All the rooms are heavily carpeted and expensively upholstered in leather save oneEaton’s personal office. It is furnished with hardwood chairs of simple early American style. From his window Eaton can see the big ore-ships coming in over Lake Erie from Port Arthur and Fort William on Lake Superior where they load Steep Rock ore for the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. It is a sight of which he never tires.
For nearly thirty years Eaton has lived in Acacia Farm, a simple whiteclapboard house nineteen miles outside Cleveland. Since 1934 when he was divorced from his wife after twentyseven years of marriage he has lived there alone with an English butler and three serving women. The house, which is nearly two hundred years old, is furnished expensively and contains many fine antiques, but there is a restraint about its décor which proclaims Eaton’s quiet taste.
Surrounding the house is an eighthundred-aere estate of rolling pasture and woodland on which he raises two hundred head of Shorthorn beef cattle all sired by bulls imported from Scotland at prices ranging from twelve thousand to thirty thousand dollars. He keeps a stable of half a dozen hunters, a frisky thoroughbred and a Shetland pony for his grandchildren. Two enormous dogs, Brutus, a Great Dane, and Cato, a St. Bernard, lollop at his heels as he takes his daily long walks over the fields.
Although he became an American citizen in 1913 he has never lost his Canadian roots. His summer home is Deep Cove, a stout oaken house on a three-thousand-acre spit of land which juts out into the exhilarating breezedriven spume of Mahone Bay, near Chester, N.S. Here Eaton keeps another fifty head of Shorthorns, a couple of racing yachts and a big motor cruiser for deep-sea fishing.
He neither smokes nor drinks and, probably for these reasons, is still able to swim, ski, ride and walk like a thirty-year-old. Until recently he played a hard and cunning game of tennis.
Eaton despises what he calls “the
enervating custom” of taking a winter holiday in Florida and each Christmas goes to Lac Beauport, Que., for winter sports. But all the year round he hankers for his annual six weeks amid the sea and pine at Deep Cove.
He has seven children—five daughters and two sons. His elder son, Cyrus Eaton, Jr., a veteran bomber pilot of the U. S. Air Force, who was shot down during the war and spent two years in a POW camp, is one of his business associates. His younger son, McPherson, lives modestly near his father’s summer home all year round. McPherson doesn’t like financial life. Last year Earl Mitchell, a taxi driver out of Chester, noticed McPherson was driving a truck. “Golly,” he said, “1 wouldn’t work like that if my Dad had millions of dollars.” Said McPherson Eaton: “You’d darn well
have to if your Dad didn’t hand them out to you.”
Eaton once said he was “horrified at the evidence piling up at an alarming rate that our young people seem to feel that the world owes them a living.” He blames parents, especially the wellto-do, for giving their children too much.
Every summer Eaton invites all his grandchildren who can walk—there were ten last year—to Deep Cove. The parents are not invited. Here, for six weeks, he gives the youngsters a sort of holiday course designed to show how much fun work can be. Each child is made responsible for the care of a Shorthorn heifer and a share in household chores. One year they were given the job of clearing a road of rocks. Eaton was delighted last year when they turned away from the fine sailing boats available to them and spent days snagging drift logs to make themselves a crude Huck Finn raft. “Much more fun than ready-made boats,” he said.
His private assistance to needy Nova Scotians has been generous. Percy Black, Conservative MP for Cumberland County, which contains Pugwash, says: “He has given away thousands
nobody will ever know about. But really he dislikes charity. He’s like Rockefeller was. He prefers to give money which can be used for social and economic improvements.”
Eaton has given two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to McMaster University and twenty-five thousand dollars to Acadia University, at Wolfville, N.S. He has also spent two hundred thousand on improvements to his native Pugwash. There is a saying in Pugwash: “The two most famous
men in Nova Scotia are Santa Claus and Cyrus Eaton.”
Eaton, who is described by R. J. Rankin, managing editor of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, “as a great Nova Scotian,” once said he would “never rest until every house in the province had a bathroom and a telephone.”
His latest idea for speeding up this millenium is to turn Nova Scotia into a huge beef-cattle ranch. “It is perfect country,” he says, “for raising pedigree Shorthorns, cool and bracing, just like Scotland. Pedigree stock can be sold across the border in New England without tariff hindrance. Thus Nova Scotia could get back a natural market.” Eaton has spent a fortune trying to make this pipe dream a reality. Every year either he or his son Cyrus travels to Scotland to buy prize beasts. W. W. Baird, recently retired director of the Dominion Government Experimental Farm at Nappan, N.S., says: “The
Eaton herds are the finest Shorthorns on this continent.”
Contemporaries who don’t know Eaton intimately think he is a psalmsinging Calvinist. But the years have mellowed his stiff-backed Rockefellerian rectitude into an agreeable tolerance.
“1 don’t need tobacco and alcohol,” he says, “but I know many get genuine enjoyment and relaxation out of them.” His preoccupation with classical literature has always been the wonder of the business world. At meals he tries to get his guests into erudite discussions with such provocative opening gambits as “I’m more of a Greek than a Roman, you know.”
One of his three sons-in-law, Lyman Butterfield, director of the Museum of Early American History, at Williamsburg, Va., had not known Eaton long
when he met him at a railroad station. He expected his new father-in-law to arrive with pockets full of stock-market reports. To his amazement Eaton descended from the train carrying a volume of psychological tragedies in the Greek manner by the seventeenthcentury French poet Jean Baptiste Racine.
Another son-in-law, Dr. Fay A. LeFevre, is a specialist at the worldfamous Cleveland Clinic, and the third, David Hume, is a commander in the U. S. Navy.
Eaton is accompanied almost everywhere by his personal assistant Miss Elizabeth Royon. She is one of that new species of highly paid women known as executaries. A bespectacled, intellectual but light-hearted woman she says: “I spent five years getting
a master’s degree at Smith College, but I learned more from Mr. Eaton in six months.”
Professorial delegates from all over the world gathered at Eaton’s summer home in 1949 for the first annual meeting of the Association of Universities of the British Commonwealth to be held outside the U. K. Eaton says it was one of the happiest occasions he can remember. His grandchildren did him credit. When the thirty-odd scholars went on a picnic the kids did all the cooking and waiting.
Eaton is a virile pamphleteer on the ¡ subject of finance and his works have ! been published in authoritative organs like the University of Chicago Law Review, Financial World and Commer! cial and Financial Chronicle.
He slams fiercely at capitalists for | an unrealistic attitude toward trade | unions.
“The classical example,” he wrote | recently, “of managerial folly is found in one especially vain and strutting corporation head who wasted twenty millions of his stockholders’ money in a futile fight against union recognition. Having spearheaded the attack on labor he expected his fellow industrialists to reward his company with more business. But he found they placed their orders with other concerns whose more dependable labor relations assured better delivery.”
Eaton went on to describe how this man failed to keep his promise to retire, paid himself a fancy salary while giving stockholders little return on their money, and concluded: “The only
tangible result of his whole performance has been an occasional word of praise from Westbrook Regler.”
Eaton himself deals sympathetically with unions, “to protect my own posi! tion as a capitalist.”
He hammers away at the fear of ! private banking houses to underwrite j daring ventures and claims that their j default is compelling governments to i take over their role and thus bringing ! about the suffocation of free enterprise : by bureaucracy.
Although he is convinced Canada I has an unlimited future he has written: “Canada is held back by the excessive ¡ caution of her banks, railroads and utilities. Now is the time for her big institutions to abandon the penurious and unprogressive policies of a contracting economy and embark on the bold and courageous course of expansion.”
Eaton has never deviated from Rockefeller’s code of religious fidelity and hard work. Of late years the seventeenth-century philosopher Spinoza has influenced his thinking. Spinoza had a profound sympathy for human hungers and failings but he remained an austere realist. He believed that God is identical with the universe and that the structure of human society should be built on the sure foundation of man’s organism. All actions, he said, were predetermined to fit a superior purpose -hence Eaton’s slogan “No regrets; no fears.”
Eaton hands out to all his staff a small booklet by Henry James, onetime president of the American Philosophical Association, and in it these line»-/' he says, sum up his own beliefs about work:
The fatigue ge .3 worse up to a certain point when gradually or suddenly it passes away and we are fresher than before. We have evidently tapped a level of new energy masked until then by the fatigue obstacle usually obeyed. There may be layer after layer of this experience. A third and fourth “wind” may supervene. Mental activity shows the phenomenon as well as physical and in exceptional cases we may find, beyond the very extremity of fatigue distress, amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own . . .
Like Rockefeller, who lived to be almost a hundred, Eaton has frequently tapped these deep and hidden reservoirs of strength. That is why he is able, at sixty-nine, to embark with the confidence of a young man on development programs in the far and forbidding Canadian north. ^