Through Mem'ry's Haze: A Personal Memoir

( 3 )

Overview

In this honest and compelling memoir, William S. Beinecke tells the story of the century through his life: from the Plaza Hotel, built by his immigrant grandfather, to the boardroom of the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, the organization behind the famous S&H Green Stamps; from student days at boarding school and Yale and Columbia Law School to his role in creating Yale’s business school; from hard times in the Depression and wartime service to prosperity as CEO of one of the nation’s largest corporations. It ...
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Overview

In this honest and compelling memoir, William S. Beinecke tells the story of the century through his life: from the Plaza Hotel, built by his immigrant grandfather, to the boardroom of the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, the organization behind the famous S&H Green Stamps; from student days at boarding school and Yale and Columbia Law School to his role in creating Yale’s business school; from hard times in the Depression and wartime service to prosperity as CEO of one of the nation’s largest corporations. It is a clear-eyed portrait of a successful American family, a shrewd commentary on the workings of business, education, and philanthropy, and a warm and affectionate recollection of one man’s upbringing, interests, travels, friendships, and good times.

About The Author:
William Sperry Beinecke received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1936 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1940. After serving to the rank of lieutenant commander in the US Navy in World War II, he was a lawyer in New York City and co-founded the firm of Casey, Beinecke & Chase. He became general counsel, president, chairman and CEO of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company, the nation’s largest trading stamp company. He has received national recognition for his philanthropic support of education, the arts, environmental preservation, and equal opportunity. He has traveled to every continent and many countries. He married Elizabeth (Betty) Gillespie in 1941; they have four children (Rick, Sarah, John, and Frances) and seven grandchildren. This is his first book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780967698700
  • Publisher: Prospect Hill Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 1,481,229

Read an Excerpt

On that morning of November 11, 1943, the carriers’ planes flew out to bomb the shipping in Simpson Harbor. When they returned they were followed by a flock of Japanese planes, perhaps as many as a hundred and fifty. I couldn’t say what it was like to be attacked by that many planes, because when they were bearing down on us I was in the depths of the Plotting Room (or “Plot”), and I might as well have been in a submarine. The Plotting Room contained the Mark I (Ford) computer and the Sperry stable element, a large gyroscope. Plotting rooms were way below decks near the center of rotation of the ship, so that the gyros could minimize the ship’s rolls and make them less violent. The Combat Information Center (or CIC), on the other hand, was located in close proximity to the bridge. That was the place where the CIC gang tried to put together information from the Plot and the radars and to keep track of what was happening for the benefit of the captain on the bridge. Officers and men with headsets put marks on plexiglass plotting boards, each X indicating the probable location of a Japanese ship or plane, with an arrow indicating direction. The CIC was a response to the need for a data-correlation room when radar became a reliable tool; it was a sign of the growing complexity and technological nature of the war. Thanks to our radar, by 1945 we also served as a fighter-director ship and guided our carrier-based aircraft to intercept incoming enemy planes. The work was complicated, which is why the officers often referred to the CIC as “Christ, I’m Confused.” The Murray did not have a CIC until one was installed at its first major navy yard availability at Mare Island.

As assistant gunnery officer, I dealt with the data received in the Plotting Room and directed the fire-controlmen who operated the large mechanical computer there, a big gray monster about the size of a pool table. All the information on enemy targets was processed in the computer, which calculated the ballistics of where to aim the main-battery guns so that projectiles would intersect the target. After it had ground away for a while, a buzzer would go off and the word “solution” would light up. We would send the firing solution to the guns and up to Jim Boyd in the director, and he would swivel around and take the planes under fire as quickly as we could give him the target information. He could see the planes coming in even if we couldn’t, and he shot down four or five planes during the attack on Rabaul. He even had a sufficient sense of the occasion to reach down and make a chalk mark on the side of the director when he scored a hit. He could do that because the planes didn’t come in one after another on top of him, as they do in the movies. It didn’t happen that fast, and he had time to look around and see how the situation was unfolding. After the battle, our signalmen painted a small Japanese flag up on the outside of the bridge for each Japanese plane we had shot down. The McKee always felt it was in competition with us, and there was a friendly rivalry to see who could put up the most little Rising Sun flags.

The Rabaul strike was a major event for the sailors on board the carrier Bunker Hill, who for years afterward held a reunion every November 11 to commemorate the event. For the Murray, however, it was a one-day diversion. Destroyers were in short supply at that stage of the war, so the Murray was shuttled about from one operation to the next. After the Rabaul strike, we were immediately dispatched to Espiritu Santo and attached to the Tarawa Attack Force for the assault on the Gilbert Islands. The battle for the atoll of Tarawa and the islet of Betio was famous for its savagery, but the Murray’s role was minor compared with that of the marines. We spent most of our time steaming back and forth along the so-called ping lines screening the transports from submarine attack.
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Table of Contents

1. From the Beginning: Family Background and Early Childhood, 1914-1925
2. Family Life, School, and Youthful Years in Madison, New Jersey, 1925-1931
3. Andover and Yale, 1931-1936
4. Around the World, 1936-1937
5. Columbia Law School, 1937-1940
6. Early Employment, the V-7 Program, and Marriage, 1940-1941
7. Midshipmen’s School on the USS Prairie State and Service Aboard the USS Buck, 1941-1943 8. War Service with the USS Murray, 1943-1944
9. Combat in the Pacific with the USS Murray and the End of the War, 1944-1945
10. Return from the War and the Creation of a Law Firm, 1945-1951
11. General Counsel for The Sperry and Hutchinson Company, 1952-1956
12. General Counsel for The Sperry and Hutchinson Company, 1956-1960
13. President of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company in the Early to Mid-1960s
14. Chairman and CEO of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company in the Late 1960s
15. The Sperry and Hutchinson Company in the 1970s, Retirement, and the Creation of Antaeus Enterprises
16. Philanthropic Activities and a Touch of Social Philosophy
17. The Pingry School and the Story of Its Move
18. The Yale Corporation and the School of Management
19. The Central Park Conservancy, 1980-1986
20. The Hudson River Foundation, 1980-1996
21. Notes from My Trip Logs
22. Later Life
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    Through Mem'ry's Haze: A Personal Memoir

    It was a great pleasure to find a copy of THROUGH MEM'RY'S HAZE awaiting my return after several days out of the office. Your walk through the corridors of life -- whether at Andover, at Yale, on the USS Murray, at Sperry and Hutchinson, or beyond -- is captivating. It is wonderful to have this account of your extraordinary life from May 22, 1914, until now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    Through Mem'ry's Haze: A Personal Memoir

    Bravo! I just finished THROUGH MEM'RY'S HAZE and I enjoyed the entire book tremendously. Your memory and description of time, place and people are remarkable. What an amazing life you led. You also, to your credit, did not spare yourself critical hindsight, which I am sure was not an easy thing to do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    Through Mem'ry's Haze: A Personal Memoir

    I liked this life story very much, indeed, and marvel that one could have crowded so many achievements and experiences into the short span of eighty-five years. When I first received the book, I thought that I would find the chapters on the war years and the MURRAY most interesting. And, of course, they were very satisfying, since they sharpened my remembrance of the most significant period of my life and also informed me of the MURRAY'S wartime history after I left the ship in September, 1944. Even so, it was the other chapters, and topics, of the memoir that were most appealing and satisfying. Perhaps that was because they opened up to me aspects of a life I knew nothing about and could hardly have imagined from what, I realize now, was the little I knew from our days together on the MURRAY. Two other points. My thoughts keep coming back to his account of early childhood and school days. For me those pages are among the most poignant of the memoir; they are touching and self-revealing in such an inviting way; they say and suggest much about who Bill Beinecke is and would become, and make us wish that we could have learned more about those early years.

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