The Son Also Rises

Welcome to the Big Daddy Hall of Fame! This guide is designed to help you enjoy your visit to the fullest. As you make your way through our exhibit areas, read along and discover a host of facts and figures, as well as some very interesting "behind the scenes" historical tidbits.

So, enjoy!

The Great Hall

This institution is dedicated to the premise that there are lower forms of life than tow-truck drivers and telephone solicitors. The engraved plaque you see enshrined at the center of the Great Hall is the Big Daddy Hall of Fame's Statement of Purpose. It says:

"There are men among us whose comfortable lives were granted to them by their fathers. If you can't hate a person for that, you have never worked for one of them." During the next few minutes, you will become acquainted with several local recipients of Big Daddy beneficence. These are men whose entire reason for existence was handed to them by Big Daddy. More often than not, when your typical Big Daddy gifts the typical grossly unqualified fruit of his loins with unearned occupational security and/or unjustified stewardship of corporate assets, the logical conclusion is: The kid didn't deserve it, he couldn't cut it on his own with a chain saw, the punk had it made for life starting the minute Big Daddy's seed shimmied up Big Mama's love canal.

For evidence, one need look no farther than our newest (and currently most popular) exhibit, which occupies a position of prominence in the Great Hall.

This diorama is dedicated to this year's Arizona-based national figure, Charlie KEATING, whose most faithful accomplice in business has been his son, Charles Keating III. Keating-watchers within and without his father's decrepit empire call him "C3." The display reveals the most significant element of the C3 story: His father's success. Charles Keating Jr. (alias Charlie, C2, Big Daddy) once was a man of great importance in contemporary American life. The series of photos you see depict Keating as real estate developer, construction magnate, porn fighter and, finally, as investment counselor to retired people living on pensions. The exhibit also traces Keating's far-reaching influence as a proponent of traditional family values. For example, C2 gained great fame as a man who believed in folding family members into his own professional portfolio. Pictured are design sketches from Keating's just-seized-by-the-feds Phoenician Resort, the nutso interior of which was designed by Keating's wife, Mary Elaine (who apparently was not consulted on the new locks that the FBI recently picked out for many of the resort's office doors). Also pictured are Keating's many daughters, who were regularly granted corporate decision-making powers, and whose husbands also were invited into the club car of the executive gravy train. The highlight of the Keating exhibit is the life story of Charles III. As is now widely known, C3's dad gave his only son leadership of division upon division and title upon title and a six-figure annual salary. By the time he was in his mid-twenties, C3 was "in charge" of his dad's entire land-acquisition division and bound for greater glory. When Charles II took control of the Lincoln Savings and Loan vault in 1984, Charles III was given the board chairmanship. His qualifications at the time? The visual focus of the C3 exhibit, a blowup from a Wall Street Journal story, tells the tale: "[Keating] installed as board chairman his 28-year-old son, Charles Keating III, an Indiana University dropout who only a few years earlier had been working as a country club busboy."

Thank you, Big Daddy!
Continuing on, C3 students can read a copy of the infamous Estrella ordinance that would have prohibited homeowners in that gigantic empty development west of Phoenix from having abortions, and which was drafted to give the Keating company control of the homeowners' possessions, specifically works of art and literature. C3 wanted to keep porno, his dad's lifelong obsession, beyond the subdivision's borders. Is it any wonder that this exhibit has become so popular with our visitors? Is it any wonder that American taxpayers, congressmen, busted junk-bond-holding retirees and federal investigators all are asking themselves this question: Would Charles Keating Jr. be in such bad shape these days if he occasionally had heard better advice than "Great idea, Pop!"?

Before leaving the Keating segment of your tour, ponder for a moment what it means to be a Big Daddy. Whom do you loathe more? When dad turns junior's life into a water-slide tube ride of unearned status, power, wealth and fame, isn't he just as deserving of scorn as the recipient of such unholy patrimony? The answer? Well, yes. Of course he is. Just as Apollo 11 and the Fonz's leather jacket are focal points for millions of visitors to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Keating family exhibit stands in a prominent location just inside the entrance of the Big Daddy Hall of Fame. For out-of-town visitors, this is a popular spot to take snapshots. Locals tend to shuffle past the exhibit while quietly grimacing. Whatever you decide, be sure to hurry along. There's much more to see! The Hall of Industry

One of the prerequisites of vast wealth obtained in business is the opportunity to squander it on your undeserving offspring.

Sometimes, though, the best of intentions can come back to haunt a Big Daddy. The first area we come to in this Hall demonstrates the phenomenon known to Big Daddyologists as emotional patricide. The SHOEN family display is cleverly organized around the familiar orange-and-silver wheeled box that made patriarch L.S. Shoen a wealthy man. Shoen, who founded the U-Haul company in 1945, eventually gave most of his stock in U-Haul's parent firm (Amerco) to his twelve kids (conceived via three wives), making them all incredibly wealthy.

In 1986 L.S. controlled but 2 percent of Amerco's stock, yet still handled most of the management of the company. At that point, several of the Shoen brood turned on their father to wrest control of the company. Son Joe took over. The rift in the family caused by the coup can be traced via an unceasing series of interfamilial lawsuits, depositions from many of these are on display inside the trailer mockup that is the heart of this display. One member of the Shoen tribe refers to their saga as "The Young, The Restless, and The Rich." Big Daddy scholars are quick to point out that the Shoen family story is atypical. The classic scenario calls for Big Daddy to be a blustering, hyperaggressive Type A character. Usually the son or sons who get the keys to the kingdom are meek young men who inherit none of the father's swagger, just his dough. The next stop on the Big Daddy Hall of Fame self-guided walking tour is an illustration of a more typical Big Daddy-Lucky Son relationship.

Eugene C. PULLIAM, who coyly named his only son Eugene S. Pulliam, was known to his enemies and his own newspaper employees (often interchangeable subsets) alike as "the Old Man." History tells us that the senior Pulliam owned many newspapers (including the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette), was a fierce anti-Communist, had wildly unpredictable mood swings and loved to use his publications' news pages as a bully pulpit for a variety of Paleolithic political and social theories. Doctors said he had a "migraine personality." He also cheated at golf. Eugene S. worked for United Press when he got out of college and eventually worked his way up to a management position on one of Big Daddy's newspapers in Indianapolis. These career accomplishments are symbolically represented in the Pulliam family exhibit by the green eyeshade tacked to the back wall.

According to Eugene C.'s biographer, Eugene the Younger "was more like his mother, Myrta--steady, consistent, not given to emotional outbursts or hasty decisions like his father." (Eugene C.'s biographer, historical anecdotally enough, also is Eugene C.'s grandson and Eugene S.'s son. Russell B. Pulliam is currently employed as an editorial writer at the Pulliam-owned Indianapolis Star. Think he ever has any trouble finding a parking spot?)

When the Old Man died in 1975, he left control of his newspaper empire to Nina (his third wife and former secretary), Eugene S. and another of the company's managers. Today Eugene S. is listed in the Arizona Republic's masthead as president of Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. A yellowing copy of that newspaper is on display here, minus the sports section and want ads, which were stolen several years ago. But that is not where Eugene C.'s legacy stops. As you will see later on in this tour, the Old Man's genes continue to spout daffy archconservative bromides to whomever will listen. Sometimes the person listening is George Bush.

Your Hall of Industry segment ends on a cheery note, however, right over there next to the hay bales and steel guitar display. Buck OWENS made his mark making rowdy country-and-western music and playing a big-grinning hambone on that television classic Hee-Haw. Somewhere along the line he bought KNIX radio station in Phoenix. Two of Buck's boys run the place now and they've done right well for themselves. Young Buddy Owens is music director, and his brother Michael is general manager. Every year a different music-industry group gives KNIX its national station-of-the-year award. Some of those awards are on loan to the Hall and can be ogled at length in the Owens family exhibit. Many sons of Big Daddy inductees are considered by society to be successful, meaning that they are rich. Still, most of these guys have been eased into the shop while Big Daddy is still around, making it somewhat more difficult for any of them to completely stomp the breath out of their inherited company, car dealership or football team. That the Owens boys have done so well--and appear set to continue their success long past Buck's time to ride into the sunset--is a fine reflection on their Big Daddy. He must be proud.

The Hall of Politics

The large copper bust you see at the front of this area should be easily identifiable: It's former Huntington (Indiana) Herald-Press General Manager J. Danforth "Skippy" QUAYLE, who currently is one heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States. Skippy's place of honor in this Hall should be easily identifiable as well. He's the foremost current recipient of Big Daddy largess. Plus, Eugene C. Pulliam was his grandpa, making Skippy a fine example of a third-generation beneficiary of Big Daddyness. Who doesn't know the Skipster's life story? The Old Man put Dan's Big Daddy, Jim Quayle, to work when Jim married the Old Man's daughter. Big Daddy Jim married into Big Daddy Eugene's fortune, in other words. At one point Dan's dad worked for Eugene C. as head publicist for the Phoenix newspapers. Jim Quayle eventually bought the Huntington paper from Eugene and put Skippy to work. Before he went to work for his father, though, Skippy slouched his way through college and law school, where he majored in Contemporary Viet Cong Avoidance. He left his dad's employ to join the U.S. Congress, then the Senate, then the George-B ticket. Odds are high that someday Skippy will run the country.

Without major help from Big Daddy and Even Bigger Granddaddy, Dan Quayle would be where? Fingering the coin-return slots in the Herald-Press canteen? A name on the black wall in Washington, D.C.? Or, even worse, a name on a newspaper masthead in dusty Wickenburg, like his brother Michael's name? You'll notice that there are no busts of Mike Quayle in this exhibit. Big Daddy is better to some sons than he is to others.

One political Big Daddy who was ever so kind to his offspring was John RHODES Jr., long-time congressman from Arizona and former House GOP leader. Rhodes' primary gift to his son was giving the boy his exact name (no Pulliam-style funny business with the middle initial) and his prim, nebbish demeanor. John Rhodes III ("Hey, call me `Jay.'") was elected to the U.S. House from his father's district in 1986 and then completely disappeared from public view. The painting you see on the wall above the title "John Rhodes III" was done by a law-enforcement sketch artist working from secondhand accounts of a campaign appearance by the congressman-to-be in July 1986. A much more visible Son of Big Daddy was recently re-elected (again) as Phoenix mayor. Big Daddy Sam GODDARD used to be governor of Arizona. He had his son Terry educated at Harvard, then brought him home to join the law firm of--care to make a guess?--Goddard and Goddard. Soon enough, young Terry was mayor, a position he will hold until he becomes governor, a position he will hold until he becomes senator, a position he will hold until he becomes Senior Democratic Doofus of the State of Arizona with Big Sideburns, the position his father now holds.

The only visually interesting thing about the Goddard exhibit is the stunningly faithful holographic re-creation of Sam Goddard's trademark sideburns. This dazzling three-dimensional display was made possible by a contribution to the Hall by the Arizona Republican party.

The Hall of Car Dealers

An entire wing of the Hall of Fame is dedicated to car salesmen and their sons. Appropriately, we start with a man who once had a foot in two worlds: politics and car trading. The slight, thin-lipped figurine you see standing in the hallway is none other than former Arizona Governor Evan MECHAM.

Mecham once made his living selling Pontiacs. When after four tries he was elected governor in 1986, he left the day-to-day workings of his dealership to son Dennis. At about the same time Big Daddy Mecham was being impeached, his son's enterprise wasn't doing so well, either. The Mechams eventually had to sell out. Now no longer in the car business, Mecham the elder can devote himself full-time to reality denial and unwitting insults. Son Dennis has gone on to lesser achievements, including starting up (and quickly folding) a wacky pottery-import business. Perhaps Dennis will soon turn again to a career in music, a calling for which he has shown little talent but plenty of blind courage.

The lyrics to a campaign song Dennis wrote for Big Daddy take a prominent place on the wall here. The song is sung to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain." Its title is "Vote for Ev." A sample of the lyrics: Let's eliminate corruption

Vote for Ev!
An intelligent deduction
Vote for Ev!

Hall management used to have the song playing continuously on a tape loop, but the practice had to be stopped because of repeated complaints from Hall custodians. Moving right along, you can see less controversial car dealers and their offsprin~g. Long-time snooze-commercial king Lou GRUBB brought his son Dan into the firm some sixteen years ago. Dan, now 32, must have cut quite a figure on the lot at age sixteen, but we can only imagine. Dan's been providing Pepsi-generation commercial input for his dad for several years now, and we're all probably a lot calmer for it. The Grubb exhibit, featuring primarily subdued lighting, cooing homilies about the meaning of life with wimpy background music, does not smell like barn animals--unlike the next exhibit. Visitors used to get about this far in the tour and turn around. But then museum management installed a sign explaining that the mooing and snorting and fertile odors coming from the EARNHARDT family display are merely incredible simulations and not the real thing. Since the Earnhardt clan of nasal pitchmen bases its public image around real-live, rootin'-tootin' creatures with hooves, Hall curators thought it only proper to include some bull of its own. No, there's no denying the animal magnetism of Tex and his boys. And shoot, sons Hal and Jim Babe (can you tell which one is which?) do a mighty fine job running down those great deals on the teevee. For the record, Hal's title down on the lot is president. Jim Babe they call secretary-slash-treasurer. And that ain't no bull, Big Daddy.

The End Zone

Your visit to the Big Daddy Hall of Fame ends on an emotional high, with a short trip to the wild world of professional sports. The subject of the final exhibit carries a name familiar to many local sports fans: Bill BIDWILL. The Bill Bidwill most fans know is himself the recipient of a massive gift from Big Daddy. Charley Bidwill gave his boy a professional football team. Little Billy, a nerdly, bow-tie-loving lad, grew up to become the nerdly, bow-tie-loving owner of the Phoenix Cardinals. Billy himself married and had children, to whom someday he will gift the team--which as a corporate entity behaves essentially as a money-printing machine regardless of its competitive performance. An idiot can run a pro football team and make money. Several--no need to name names--do. One young Bidwill, Michael, is a recent law school grad who has been helping out some around the team. In a game a few weeks ago he helped strap tape on the exposed buttocks of one of the Cardinal players who had split his pants.

The family's oldest boy, Bill Jr., actually holds a title in team management. This 25-year-old heir to the Bidwill football fortune works in Big Daddy's scouting department, grading player performance and doing whatever it is that the team's pathetic scouting department does. Another of Bill Jr.'s roles crosses over into the public domain.

The videotape that visitors can watch at this exhibit repeats the closing credits of "Cardinals 1st and 10," a show the local CBS-TV affiliate produces and broadcasts each week during the season. Over and over visitors can watch Bill Jr. reap credit for acting as one of two "producers" for the Channel 10 show.

Of course, he does nothing. Visitors to tapings of the show report that Bill Jr. coolly eats dinner with his wife while other production personnel work frantically to prepare the set. Then he stands, squints his eyes and furrows his brow as he surveys the room. Then he wanders outside to lean in the doorway of C~hannel 10's production truck while others work feverishly at production chores.

Sure, station insiders and Cardinals' promotional personnel say Bill Jr.'s chief role is procuring players for show tapings. This is a task that requires not much dexterity beyond having your secretary dial a telephone and say, "Bubba, it's Ellie May calling for Bill Jr. Thursday night, 6:30."

But if the boy didn't have a good title (actually Channel 10's idea--incredible, no?) for a do-little job, if he didn't have a Big Daddy to sculpt a life for him, if he didn't have to face the next fifty years without once worrying about where his next high-performance automobile was coming from . . . he wouldn't command such a prominent position in the Big Daddy Hall of Fame, would he? This concludes your walking tour. We sincerely hope you've enjoyed your visit, and wish to invite you back again sometime. Until then we hope you keep this parting thought in mind: When it comes to the really great breaks in life, nothing beats picking good parents.

'Bye, now!

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave Walker