William F. Warde

Success Story

(13 April 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. X No. 15, 13 April 1946, p. 8.
(William F. Warde was a pseudonym of George Novack.)
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: George Novack Internet Archive 2018; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Among the most familiar of capitalist-inspired fables is the one entitled: “Poor Boy Makes Good in a Big Way.” This theme has become as standardized as Heinz catsup, Campbell’s Beans or Truman’s speeches.

Story writers for the popular fiction magazines cynically refer to it as “literary sandwich filling between advertisements.” Hollywood’s scenario writers term it "the gimmick.” University sociologists give it the fancier label of “The American Dream.”

Everyone knows the basic elements of the story. Poor boy: hard-working, ambitious, loyal, likeable. He attracts the attention of the big boss by some unusual stroke. After amazing, outwitting and confounding enemies and competitors, he arrives at the end of the last reel or paragraph with the boss’s daughter in one hand and a top job or lush contract in the other.

An increasing number of workers, who have watched this version of life and labor in these United States unfold on the movie screen, have become skeptical about its correspondence to reality. Looking around them at work and in their neighborhoods, they haven’t noticed their relatives or acquaintances mount the ladder of business success in any such spectacular fashion. Most of them remain fixed in the same sort of jobs or occupations, with little or no advancement.

On the other hand, they see a billionaire’s grandson like Henry Ford II jump clear to the presidency of the giant Ford Motor Company before he reaches the age of thirty. And the son of the Morgan partner Stettinius moved ahead so fast that he became head of U.S. Steel, Secretary of State, and permanent U.S. Delegate to the UNO in one decade.

Can it be that America today is “the land of opportunity” only for the rich and well-connected? Do you have to belong to the aristocracy of wealth and privilege in order to get a place at the top?

In answer to these questions we should like to submit the case of Riccardo Salmons. His unorthodox success story is told in the April 3 N.Y. World-Telegram, by Charles Ventura in the column appropriately headed Society Today.

“For years Ricky went his graceful way playing a fair game of tennis, being a charming companion at bridge and doing useless things well. He and his attractive wife, the former Daphne I.C. Kane O’Connell, flitted about from Newport to Palm Beach to Paris, and life was just one long carefree idyll.

“Overnight Ricky’s whole life has changed. He now has one of the most important jobs in the Kaiser-Frazer automobile company. Did he burn the midnight oil? Did he marry the boss’s daughter or do any of the things young men are advised to do to succeed? The answer to all these questions is no.

“Ricky took his little daughter to have her hair fixed one day. He met Mrs. Joseph Frazer, who was an old friend, in the elevator. She invited him to a cocktail party. Mr. Frazer was there. Mr. Frazer was an old friend.

“Ricky said (just for a laugh), ‘How about a job, Joe?’ Joe said, ‘Sure. You’re just the man to handle our foreign agencies. Report to Harry Dodge.’

“Mr. Salmons leaves this Friday via American Airlines for Europe.”

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So you see, all it takes to make good under capitalism is honesty, hard-work, sobriety, perseverance, intelligence, initiative, etc., etc.


Last updated on: 18 October 2018