He understood and forgave her. No pretty
young woman wanted to be seen with a man who had a
face that looked like a carved-out
pumpkin. At least he had the use of
one eye, one beautiful sky-blue orb that saw
everything---that saw too much.
It wasn’t a University degree or a rich father or
winning the Irish Sweepstakes that got him to
where he was today. It was good
old-fashioned hard work. He started
off as a Cinderman and moved up to a Salter and
then they put him on operating the Pig Iron
crane. By the time he was 25 he was foreman
at the steel mill. Eight years later he was
vice president, just in time to greet the Great
Rob didn’t lose everything in the crash like
many of his associates but the steel industry
was hit hard. Until 1933, when things
perked up a bit, there was a 75% reduction in
the amount of steel produced. But
Robert had an idea that would save the company
and secure his position as vice president.
They would start making automobiles.
He didn’t drive one of the company’s navy-blue
Camano sedans that he had made so popular due to
their low cost and boring durability. No
siree, he was seen in his Ruby-Red Duesenberg J,
navigating all over town, usually with a pretty
young thing by his side.
A fool he wasn’t. He knew Edith had married
him for his money and not for his good
looks. They didn’t call him ‘The Pirate’
just because he was a ruthless businessman but
also because of the elegant black velvet patch he
wore over the hole where his eye had once
resided. Velvet was appropriate for the man
who was soon to become President of the Camano
“Don’t shit in your nest,” was Rob’s
motto, so he kept his romantic encounters
with various ladies of the evening as far
away from Edith, and his mansion on the
hill, as was possible. Blond and
buxom Billie Ann didn’t mind as long as
the booze and the shekels kept flowing.
And, as she pointed out to her
girlfriends, the suite Robby kept in the
William Penn Hotel was nothing to sneeze
That he should have two sons born in the same
month was incredible. Unbelievable because
they were not twins but the result of two
different mothers, Edith Davidson and Billie Ann
Snyder. Rob had tried to get Billie to
terminate the pregnancy but she threatened to
expose him if he forced her into an
abortion. And so Rudy came into the world,
half-brother to Ryan Vann Davidson.
No mother loved her son more than Edith.
Ryan was the sun, the moon and all the stars in
the heavens to her. He was a loving
replacement for the ugly bully she had married at
her parents' insistence. “You can marry a
rich man as easily as a poor one,” her mother told
her repeatedly, “and you’ll learn to love
him.” Well, that never happened so now she
concentrated on loving Ryan and making him
happy. This consisted on her granting him
his every wish.
1955 was a banner year for Robert. The
Camano sedan had been back in production for ten
years after having been temporarily discontinued
during the Second World War, in order for the
company to be able to manufacture army tanks and
trucks. Patriotic and profitable.
Now, the corporation couldn’t keep up with the
demand for the automobile known as ‘the happy
“You have spoiled him rotten!” yelled Robert, as
he sat, facing Edith, at the breakfast table in
the glassed-in conservatory. “He’s a
21-year-old drunken college dropout! He’s
had his driver’s license revoked, he’s been
arrested for assault---and it took every string I
could pull to get him out of that one---and you
continue to give him money and make excuses for
his inexcusable behavior! And this is the next
President of the Camano Corporation?”
Rudy Snyder worked on the assembly line at the
Camano car factory. He had applied for a job
at the plant right after graduating High
School. His father had nothing to do with
his hiring and, in fact, would probably never even
recognize the tall lanky young man installing
window shields in the shiny new Camano
sedans. After all, the last time Rob saw his
son was when the boy was only two years-old.
“More money?” Rob hissed into the phone
receiver. He was standing by the desk
in his office waiting to be trucked
away. “You have been getting a
generous monthly allotment
for---what---twenty years? No, Billie,
we had an agreement that I would continue to
support you and your boy, as long as you
moved away and never contacted me, ever
again, by phone, mail or in person.
------Well, maybe if you drank less.”
When Rudy returned from working his shift, to the
tiny apartment he shared with his mother, he found
her unconscious in the bathroom. She had
been beaten over the head with a metal waste
basket. There was evidence that she had been
entertaining company, as she often did when Rudy
was at work; whiskey and cigar butts and a rumpled
bed. Billie Ann Snyder died in the ambulance
on the way to the hospital. Rudy held her
hand all the way.
“I think we have enough evidence to prove it was murder,” District Attorney Rendell asserted, “Proceed with the warrant and the arrest.”
The bar was noisy, as it always was at
five o’clock. Rudy was
commiserating with his work buddies, Sam
and Cyrus, about the trial he couldn’t
even afford to take time off from work
to attend. “He’ll go free.
The rich always do!”
It was the wedding of the year! The
Pittsburgh Press devoted a full page to the
marriage of Ryan Vann Davidson to Cynthia Clarise
Clayton. Photos of the happy couple, and
their respective families, enjoying the reception
at the Shannopin Country Club was the perfect
antidote to the scandalous coverage of the murder
trial of Robert Davidson a year earlier.
Although he was found not guilty, the exposure of
his tawdry affair with Billie Ann left the public
divided. At least half of Pittsburgh was
sure he did it.
Rudy had a hard time letting go of the
past and his mother’s unsolved
murder. Until he moved out of the
only home he knew, an apartment that was
rife with memories of the good times as
well as the bad, he was going to be stuck
in a deep depression. The company
nurse suggested he see a therapist and
that’s when he met Laura, the doctor’s
Rudy would never have been able to move forward
with the strike against the Camano plant without
the support and strength of his wife Laura.
“I’m not going to make it, Ryan,” Robert
whispered from his hospital bed. “You’re
going to have to step up to the bat. I
turning the company over to you.” Ryan
fought back the tears. ‘I will not weep for
the son-of-bitch, not now---not ever!”
“I’ve had it!” Cee Cee screamed, as she
stood over the bed where Ryan was entwined
with his latest conquest, a red-head from
the steno pool. “You useless piece
of shit! What kind of fatherly
example are you setting for Amanda?!
I want you and your whore out of
Ryan had called Rudy into his office. Ever
since the labor strike had been settled, to both
the worker’s and management’s satisfaction, the
plant was running at full capacity, with night, as
well as day, shifts.
The 60’s were years of great change, some
very welcome changes and some
not-so-welcome changes, like the
automobile industry beginning its move to
the Far East and to Europe.
Edith was not doing well all these years after
Robbie’s death. She seemed to have aged well
beyond her 70’s. Once socially active in the
community she now rarely left the Davidson
Castle. Ryan and Cee Cee would find her
wandering the halls, in a ratty flannel nightgown,
muttering words that made no sense.
The peace parade assembled in front of the
Pittsburgh City-County Building. Amanda was
standing, holding an anti-war sign, ready to march
up Grant Street, when her father Ryan grabbed her
by the arm.
Rudy and Laura arrived at the Davidson
Castle for the yearly Christmas dinner, a
lavish affair known for its amazing décor
and extravagant cuisine. They left
their newly-born twins, Rosalyn and
Roland, with Laura’s parents. Laura and
Cee Cee had, over the years, become fast
friends, as had their husbands, the
brothers Davidson. The outside world
was unaware of the blood connection
between the President and the Business
Manager of Camano Motors. However,
all of the family knew the connection,
with the exception of Edith. She
always remained sequestered in her room
and therefore had never met Rudy---until
The Camano Corporation Annual Company Picnic
always took place on the Fourth of July.
Robbie had felt it was a good way to honor his
country and his employees. Ryan had wisely
continued this tradition after Robert’s
death. There was barbeque, beer and a band
at Schenley Park as well as games and
swimming. This year, however, there was an
additional event, a rather unwelcome event.
Amanda Davidson had arrived with a battalion of
peaceniks demonstrating against the Vietnam War.
Rudy entered the room and was immediately hit with
the smell of Lysol and urine. Edith lay
motionless in a hospital bed and Rudy wasn’t sure
she was still of this earth. He pulled a
metal chair up close to her and gazed at her thin,
“I’m leaving!” Amanda yelled as she
started up the stairs to go to her
room. She needed to finish packing.
After the funeral, family and friends gathered at
the Davidson Castle for cake and commemoration.
While the Camano Sedan, which started it all, was eventually phased out of production, the Camano Corporation continued on. Under the direction of Rudy Snyder Davidson it began to expand and it started buying up other small business’s until it was producing everything from argyle sox to zippers. The corporation was worth billions.
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