During the years Cathy and I lived in El Dorado, Arkansas most of our out-of-town shopping trips were either to Monroe, Louisiana to the Pecanland Mall or to Little Rock to one of several malls there. We seldom travelled to Dallas because it was a long six hour drive, and we dreaded the traffic in Dallas. After living in a small town where it takes five minutes to drive downtown and park right next to the store, the idea of visiting a city of one and a half million is not only unattractive but intimidating.
On rare occasion when attending a conference or a sporting event in Dallas we did shop in a few of the nicer Dallas stores. On two occasions I remember we visited the world-famous Neiman-Marcus Department Store just to rub shoulders with the rich and famous of Dallas. Cathy found and bought some item she needed, so our name was automatically placed on their mailing list. For several years we received the beautiful Neiman-Marcus catalog with its’ gorgeous clothes and outlandish prices. We looked forward to seeing what they had to offer especially the “His and Hers” gifts. One I recall was a 5 star African safari for three weeks for husband and wife, which included a formal dinner party with the US Ambassador in Kenya. The price tag was a mere seventy-five thousand dollars.
One particular offering featured in the Neiman Marcus catalog which caught Cathy’s eye was an invitation to spend a week at The Greenhouse Spa. This exclusive spa was built in 1965 in Grand Prairie, Texas by owner Stanley Marcus and featured the very latest and finest amenities certain to pamper those who could afford it. It attracted clientele from Dallas and across the nation. Like so many of our friends Cathy was at a stage in life in which she was constantly on the go with our three children who required transportation to school, to friend’s homes after school, to sporting practices and games, and to piano practices and recitals. In addition she had to shop for groceries, household items and clothes among many other things. All the while she was maintaining our home and keeping our marriage relationship vibrant and fresh. I knew the thought of having a week of rest, relaxation and total pampering might be appealing, and one which she had certainly earned. I happened to mention one evening if she would agree I would consider underwriting a week at the Greenhouse for her Mom and her. Cathy’s Mom, Virginia Young was the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale at the time and was in the midst of a re-election campaign. I thought she might also welcome a relaxing week following her victory.
Within a few days of my suggestion Cathy had a phone conversation with her Mom, and told her I would send them both to the Greenhouse for a week if they wanted. She briefly explained the function of the Greenhouse, and said it might be a relaxing time for both of them. Her Mom’s only comment was, “That might be fun.” Nothing more was said about it during the exchange.
It was not unusual for Mom (Mayor Young) as part of her official duties to give two or three talks per day at various official functions. During a re-election campaign however, she might have seven or eight stops with speeches at each place. I was always amazed at her knowledge base, her memory and her ability to speak without the use of notes or a prepared speech. She never used a teleprompter nor did she need one. She probably knew more about Fort Lauderdale and its’ history than anyone during her era.
One afternoon one of her scheduled campaign stops was at a large condominium near the beach, and she spoke to a group of one hundred or more interested citizens about what the City Council had been doing for their benefit. She said as their Mayor she was best qualified to continue those policies. During the talk she spoke about her family’s heritage of being early settlers of the city, and proceeded to tell them about her own children and their families. When she told them a little about Cathy she said she was married to a surgeon, and they had planted their roots in South Arkansas. She said something to this effect; “My son-in-law is so generous he offered to send Cathy and me for a week of relaxation at “The Green Door.” She had forgotten Cathy had said I would send them to The Greenhouse! According to her this was all she said concerning the offer.
When the meeting was over one of the ladies pulled her aside and after congratulating her on an excellent talk said, “Virginia, I would advise you not ever mention that your son-in-law in Arkansas was sending you and your daughter to “The Green Door.” Virginia said, “Why? I thought it was a sweet and generous offer.” The lady said, “Are you aware that The Green Door is an X-rated business out on Sunrise Boulevard?”
When Mom told us about the error in her talk over the name of the spa we had a good laugh. At the same time we were prayerful no one who heard her thought or believed there was anything unwholesome about my offer. We were later very thankful when the election was over Mom was once again re-elected to the City Council. She and Cathy never did make it for a week or even a day at The Greenhouse. I still believe they both not only earned it but would have had a great time there.