Cecil could be pegged as one who had the ability to keep a part of any dollar he received. I probably owe Cecil for many of the successes that I had as a contractor. Cecil gave me my first opportunity to learn the Industrial and Commercial Painting Business. I worked as an estimator and later as a small partner in his business. We traveled, boy did we travel. One of Cecil’s favorite sayings was “From Maine to Mexico, Seattle to Key Largo.” This could have been his motto.
Cecil had an affinity with beer. Hard alcohol didn’t create much interest for him. His regimen for application of the drink was never before 3 p.m. Usually within the next two or three hours he would be asleep.

Cecil had a remarkable ability for trading while slightly inebriated. I recall seeing his car at a local bar and decided I would nip this session in the bud because I usually had to take him home if he got too much. He rode out to American Bridge with me to look at plans for a large construction project. I was hastily taking off the details from the plans when I heard him having a conversation with the President. He had wandered in from the car. I rushed down the hall to the office where I heard the commotion. Everyone respected Cecil’s ability for painting structural steel. I asked him if he would come down the hall and take a look at the plans with me. He said. “we’re talking, I have already traded for the job.” He was something when feeling good.

I recall one December and things were tough. Cecil told me that he felt he should lay me off as he and his wife did things for the old people at Christmas. I asked him what he was going to do. He said, “I am giving my father a television. “ So much for my job. I later rejoined him as a slight partner.

Cecil had an ability to keep part of what he made. He had accumulated a small fortune at the time doing projects that not many wanted. One of his sayings was, “I like it Nasty and Fasty”. When questioned why, he said, “Because anything you do to it makes it look good.”

Cecil got his knowledge of the painting business by keeping records on the job on which he was employed
As to man hours and gallons of paint.

One of his first forays into the contract painting business was with two other partners. The name of their company was , Mountain Brook Village Painting and Decorating Company , Incorporated. He told me the story of one of their first jobs. One of the partners realizing that it was Friday and they were only partially complete remarked,” Cecil, it’s Friday and we need a payday. Do you think the Doctor( the owner of the house) would give us a draw? Cecil said, I’ll ask him when he comes home for lunch.” The doctor agreed to a draw but his wife had his checkbook. Cecil tore off a part of his lunch sack and asked the doctor to write him a check on the paper sack. Unbelievable, but true, it worked.

Cecil had an ability to manage what money he had. He loved to compare his net worth to others who had much more than he did. He loved to relate the story of he and LaNell(Laura Nell His wife) eating at Joy Young’s Restaurant in downtown Birmingham. Speaking of Birmingham Mayor Cooper Green, He would say, “ We eat the same steak as he does and have the same cocktails. When we pay out the only difference is that he has more left than I do.” A lesson is here. You don’t have to bust it to live well. You need only to spend what you enjoy and not worry if someone else has more than you do. You can enjoy many of the same things on a leaner budget.

Cecil had an innate ability in trading and financing automobiles. He would trade or buy the vehicle of his choice and finance it for ninety days on a single payment note. In ninety days he would renew the note, paying the interest and extending for another ninety days. He had now driven an expensive $4,000.00 car for say $120.00 for 6 months. He would then pay the interest and put the car on thirty-six months. He would then drive the can for about $1,692.00 or 130.00 per month for another year or so. Total amount spent for 24 months was $1,692.00. This was less than $80.00 per month. He would then trade up in quality as they had more of a mark-up and allow him more trade-in, and the process would start again.

I tried to get Cecil to consider using an overhead figure on each job a most businesses do. His statement was, “ If you make enough money the overhead will take care of itself.”

I think, all things being equal, I probably learned my first lessons on borrowing money from his tutoring.

Rest Peacefully Cecil


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