Back in the late 1950s when I began the practice of law, there were about 100 lawyers with offices in downtown Lima. Almost all of them were located in either the National Bank Building, the Cook Tower, the Citizens Building and Loan on North Main or the Dominion Building on East High Street. There was a great deal of camaraderie among them, especially with those in the same building with you.
My first office was a one-room, share the waiting room with an accountant setup. I was quickly assimilated into the National Bank of lawyers and really enjoyed my daily contacts with them in the lobby, the elevators and the coffee breakroom.
At the same time, my wife and I and the kids lived on Elmwood Place, a block and a half from Faurot School. We only had one car, so I walked to the office every day. The kids wanted a dog, and the late Forest Armentrout offered me what he represented was a pure bred boxer puppy. I made the mistake of taking the kids out to “just look” at the puppies one evening.
The mother was a gorgeous boxer. The kids all fell in love, and we went home with the new puppy.
Well, I soon realized that the animal had been compromised. The dog had the coloring and the chest and shoulders of a boxer but the nose and legs of a greyhound. He had a wonderful protective disposition and adopted all of the 25 or so neighborhood kids as members of his pack, including Keith Cunningham and Teresa Adams.
He would walk them up to Faurot School and come back for me when I walked to the office. I didn’t want him to do that, so I tried to shake him by ducking behind trees, doorways or parked cars when a squirrel or something else distracted him. When he lost sight of me or didn’t know where I was, he would return home, and I could proceed to the National Bank Building.
Now there were some days when I just could not shake him, and he followed me right to the front entrance. That entrance is unchanged today. There is a revolving door in the center with a large, heavy hinged door on each side of it. Because those doors were so heavy, they were rarely used. So when I got to the front of the building, I would suddenly dart through the revolving door, leaving him outside. He was simply confused by the door and was too large to get into it anyway. My wife would usually call me a few minutes later with word that he was back home asleep on the porch.
This scenario played out about once a week. Most of the people with offices in the bank building, including the lawyers, recognized him and knew who he belonged to. Then one morning after leaving him studying the revolving door, I was in my office talking to someone about why the price of deeds had gone up to $10, my shared receptionist stuck her head in the door and said, “There is someone in the reception room that you need to see right away.”
A bit perplexed, I went out to see who it was. What do I find but my dog Romer, tail wagging, tongue out, panting and obviously delighted to see me. I went back into my office and told my prospective client that I could do the deed he wanted for $5 instead of $10.
What to do with the dog? Well, I knew that my wife was taking the kids out to Mirror Lake for swimming lessons that morning using the only car we owned. I called home. No answer. Falling back to my last resort, I made a leash of my neck tie, walked him home to Elmwood Place and then walked back to my office in the National Bank Building.
Upon inquiry of the receptionist, I learned that Ray Roberts, a lawyer whose office was down the hall, had brought the dog through one of the hinged doors, brought him up in the elevator and let him into my waiting room.
Being a bit miffed, I went to Ray’s office and expressed my displeasure. He explained that since I was the new guy in the building, a little initiation was in order, and I could now consider myself a brother in the National Bank Building fraternity of lawyers.
Moral of the Story: You can run from your dog, but you can’t hide.
Lawrence S. Huffman is an attorney in Lima and a guest columnist in The Lima News.