When Beloved Son was a junior at St. Louis University, his friend and fraternity brother recommended him for a job at the Anheuser-Busch flight ops at Spirit of St. Louis airport. The criteria for the job was to have a good work ethic.
It was a great job. Beloved Son cleaned toilets, detailed the interiors of the private jets, was dispatched in company-owned Escalades to pick up and drop off executives or to courier documents.
For Christmas, one boss gave him an iPod shuffle, another boss gave him a North Face jacket, the Busch’s gave him a sculpture (one year it was the Anheuser-Busch eagle, another year it was the bust of a Clydesdale, both gorgeous). I remember at the time thinking that I had not got so much as a Christmas card from my employers. And, I quickly tallied that the gifts he had received from AB were probably equal in value to the gifts I had given him. The generosity was memorable.
Beloved Son decided on going to Law School while working in the hangar. He worked hard. Gained the respect of his managers and met members of the Anheuser-Busch General Counsel’s office. He applied for a job in the legal department. He was taken through his paces. He spent weeks and then months following up. He finally got his chance.
Prior to his joining the General Counsel’s office, while he was still at flight ops, I visited him in St. Louis during the summer. Beloved Son insisted that I come while the Air Show was going on. A huge BBQ was held at the hangar, hosted by August Busch III. (A note, my house has never been as clean as the AB hangar. I suspect the only spaces occupying humans that could possibly be cleaner would be a hospital.)
The BBQ was spectacular. August Busch III worked one of the grills and served me shrimp. He was actually very charming to me.
After graduating from SLU, Beloved Son worked for a year at AB. He worked very hard at the General Counsel’s office. I was very proud of him. There were attorneys, a department manager, paralegals and administrative assistants. Beloved Son was the only non-administrative person in the department that didn’t have a JD or wasn’t a paralegal. He did well.
He was hired by AB and let go after the InBev takeover.
On another trip around Christmas time, we walked from his townhouse in Soulard to the Brewery. The campus was decked out in Christmas lights, every bit as pristine as the hangar. It was breathtakingly beautiful. When I think back I get very emotional – it was the end of a spectacular era.
I am currently reading Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, An American Icon by Julie MacIntosh. It’s a riveting account. And while very well done, it’s taking me a while because there is a sorrow that accompanies the reading. I’ve never had this kind of experience with a book before.
You live long enough you witness staggering changes; some wonderful, some bewildering, some a mix of both. But I am glad that my son’s life, and by extension mine, included a glimpse into the unique kingdom that was Anheuser-Busch.
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