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Full text of "Dean of the College of Engineering, pioneer in coastal engineering, and consultant to General Electric : oral history transcript / 1986-1988"

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 



University of California 
Berkeley, California 



Richard B. Gump 
COMPOSER, ARTIST, AND PRESIDENT OF GUMP'S, SAN FRANCISCO 



An Interview Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 
in 1987 



Copyright (c) 1989 by The Regents of the University of California 



Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing 
leading participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the 
development of Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is 
a modern research technique involving an interviewee and an informed 
interviewer in spontaneous conversation. The taped record is transcribed, 
lightly edited for continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. 
The resulting manuscript is typed in final form, indexed, bound with 
photographs and illustrative materials, and placed in The Bancroft Library at 
the University of California, Berkeley, and other research collections for 
scholarly use. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended 
to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a 
spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as 
such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable. 



************************************ 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the University of California and Richard 
B. Gump dated 7 March 1988. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to 
The Bancroft Library of the University of California, 
Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for 
publication without the written permission of the Director 
of The Bancroft Library of the University of California, 
Berkeley. 

Request for permission to quote for publication should 
be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 
Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720, and 
should include identification of the specific passages to be 
quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification 
of the user. The legal agreement with Richard B. Gump 
requires that he be notified of the request and allowed 
thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as 
follows: 

Richard B. Gump, "Composer, Artist, and 
President of Gump's, San Francisco," an 
oral history conducted in 1987 by Suzanne 
B. Riess, Regional Oral History Office, 
The Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 1989. 



Copy No. 



SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE 
September 6, 1989 



Richard Gump 

Longtime Boss 

Of Famed S.F. Store 

Richard Gump, 83, who operat 
ed Gump's internationally celebrat 
ed fine arts store just off Union 
Square from 1944 until 1972, died 
Monday in his Paris apartment 

Mr. Gump was the third genera 
tion of his family to head the presti 
gious store, which was founded in 



1861 by his grandfather, Solomon. 

Mr. Gump became general 
manager in 1944 and sold the store 
in 1969 to Cro well Collier and Mac- 
millan Inc., in a move to lessen fu 
ture inheritance taxes. He re 
mained as president and then con 
sultant to the store until 1974. 

Mr. Gump, a writer, lecturer 
and composer of pieces for sympho 
ny orchestras, wrote a book in 1951 
whose title later became the store 
slogan, "Good Taste Costs No More." 
The book was a textbook for many 
years in university classes on interi 
or design. 



He maintained homes in Flor 
ence, Paris and San Francisco after 
giving the University of California 
at Berkeley his 35-acre Polynesian 
estate at Cooks Bay on the island of 
Moorea in 1981. 

Mr. Gump, a native of San Fran 
cisco, attended both the California 
College of Arts and Crafts and Stan 
ford University. 

Besides collecting fine art, Mr. 
Gump conducted Dr. Fritz Gucken- 
heimer's Sour Kraut Band, wrote 
books on jade and composed sym 
phonies that were performed by the 
Oakland and Honolulu orchestras. 



phony Association and the Asian 
Art Museum and was a member of 
the Family Club and the World 
Trade Club. 

He is survived by a son. Peter, 
of Vallejo; by three nieces, Suzanne 
Gump of San Francisco, Marilyn 
Gump of San Anselmo and Anto 
inette Amorteguy of San Francisco 
and by his longtime companion, Jo 
hanna Sianta of Paris. 

At his request, there will be no 
funeral. A memorial service is being 
planned, and donations to a favorite 
charity are preferred. 



Mr. Gump was a former board 
member of the San Francisco Sym- 




To Those Interested in my Self -Portrait: 

Please don't call it sad. I am caught in a 
pensive mood. 

Bob Leitstein, now head of GUMP'S, asked 
for my portrait, and in seeking someone who 
could draw fairly well I ended up selecting 
myself. 

It is not conceit. It is just that I was pretty 
sure of this artist's work. 




Richard Gump 



Introduction 



Having known Richard Gump for twenty-eight years 
and having traveled with him around the world on so many 
of his buying trips I can honestly say he is one of the 
great teachers of culture in all its forms. Without lec 
turing or pontificating he imparts knowledge in a very 
natural and easy way which makes art, architecture, music 
and history a daily pleasure. This is a rare trait in 
one who knows so much. 

What a joy it is to experience this truly exciting 
and uplifting education that never ends. 



Johanna Sianta 



Florence, Italy 
March 1988 















ii 



INTERVIEW HISTORY - RICHARD B. GUMP 



Richard B. Gump was recommended for an oral history by close 
friends of his in 1984, and we enthusiastically agreed. A member of an 
old San Francisco family, retired as president of a world-famous store 
which in his generation he had brought to new standards of good taste 
and successful merchandising, he was a most appropriate subject for the 
Regional Oral History Office. The prospect of a package from Gump's has 
always been delightful, and the prospect of interviewing Richard Gump 
himself was one we looked forward to with pleasure. 

In 1981 Richard Gump had given to the University of California his 
thirty- five acre estate on Cook's Bay on the island of Moorea for a 
biological research station, "dedicated to research, preservation of the 
environment and to the benefit of the Polynesian people." We remembered 
an article about this new Pao Pao "campus" in UC Berkeley's Cal Monthly 
in 1982, in which its donor was introduced not only as president of the 
famous San Francisco store, and locally known for his Guckenheimer Sour 
Kraut Band, a versatile man, merchant and director, but also as a 
composer of both classical and modern music, a watercolorist, and a 
lecturer and author who could be found at home in San Francisco, in 
Moorea, in Florence, Italy, and sometimes in Bad Gastein, Germany. 

The Bancroft Library's director James D. Hart wrote to Richard Gump 
in March 1984 to tell him about the Regional Oral History Office and to 
invite him to be a memoirist. "First of all we would like to have more 
documentation on your family as well as on its remarkable store, an 
institution famous not only in San Francisco since Gold Rush days but 
famous worldwide," was how the invitation began. 

Richard Gump accepted the invitation but said he would be traveling 
for a while. He was in and out of San Francisco through 1986 and it was 
not until April 20, 1987 that we made his acquaintance in person at the 
presentation to another well-known San Franciscan, Louise M. Davies, of 
her oral history, From Ouincv to Woodside: Memories of Family and 
Friends. Here at our side at a party full of notables was Richard Gump 
in person, accessible, entertaining, interesting, and ready and willing 
to begin on an oral history. The only thing keeping him from beginning 
immediately was an imminent hip operation. 



iii 



While Mr. Gump was having the operation and in recovery in the 
hospital in May, his secretary for forty-two years, Mrs. Wilson Graham, 
prepared for the interviewer files of articles and data about her boss, 
with sections on the biographical, the musical, the art, the philanthro 
pies. We absorbed that, read Gump's Treasure Trade, the story of the 
store written by Carol Green Wilson (Crowell, 1965), and reread and 
marveled at Richard Gump's wise and witty Good Taste Costs No More 
(Doubleday, 1951), and Jade. Stone of Heaven (Doubleday, 1962). A 
chronological outline for the interview was developed, and a first 
taping set for June 12, 1987. 

Gump's on Post Street in San Francisco is a famously beautiful 
store. The outside was richly described in a 1981 Town and Country as a 
".. .three -story building tastefully painted the color of black plums. 
Seasonal flowers- -daisies , daffodils or geraniums- -bloom in window boxes 
along the upper level of the store facade. The spruced-up 1909 struc 
ture has the allure of an aging geisha whose timeless charms shine 
through the years and layers of cosmetic paint. Maroon awnings droop 
over the store windows like giant false eyelashes, luring passersby 
toward the award-winning window displays. The panoramas entice shoppers 
to look, seducing them to come inside the entrance discreetly marked 
'Gump's- -Since 1861.'" 

Reading such an intriguing description of the outside of a store 
could make the reader wish to know where the interviews with the store's 
arbiter elegantiarum took place, in what surroundings. In fact, they 
were quite wonderful. Far from plugging in the tape recorder in the 
usual neutral space of an office with interviewee ensconced behind his 
desk- -Richard Gump has said in a newspaper interview that "desks are 
walls to protect executives from the people who call on them" --the 
meetings were held in different rooms of Richard Gump's penthouse in San 
Francisco, colorful, dramatic, distinctive spaces. Our first meeting 
was in the living room which is described in some detail in the oral 
history (Chapter VII), a heavily-curtained inner sanctum of art objects, 
paintings, and silver treasures presided over by its owner with a 
combination of pleasure and modest dismissal. 

We met in other spaces with other moods. Often it was the room 
where the C-model Steinway and Ludwig von Beethoven reigned, alongside 
modern electronic musical equipment, a room mostly black and white with 
leather couches, prints and books and watercolors by the musician- 
artist-owner. Functional white window blinds protected the piano on the 
western side of the penthouse, but on request they were raised to admit 
the excellent view. Another interview was in a marine blue bedroom- 
study which looked out toward the Golden Gate. One day, delivering some 
papers, I met with Mr. Gump's assistant Michelle Darr in an airy cream 



iv 



and gold east-facing dining room, a totally different space, and very 
French. The connecting halls were like art galleries. Only the kitchen 
could be described as a "neutral" space. 

That this oral history is as chronological and informative an 
account as it is thanks to the persistence and hard work of three of us: 
Richard Gump, who accepted direction and an occasional slowing down that 
at times frustrated him; the interviewer, who followed tangents for keys 
as to how the very creative mind of Richard Gump worked; and Clariece 
Graham, the able secretary who took a four-page list of queries, and a 
xerox of the transcribed and edited interview, and rounded up the 
answers from her records, her memory, and from her by then far-flung 
boss . 

The interviewing went on from June 1987 to August 1987 in six long 
sessions. Because Mr. Gump's fascinating asides made him sometimes hard 
to follow on tape, the transcriber was given copious notes to work from. 
The transcribing went slowly and it was not until February 1988 that the 
transcript, as edited in the office, went to Mr. Gump. He read it in 
Florence where he continued to recuperate from the surgery of the 
previous spring. 

Throughout the manuscript the reader will see the notation "[Added 
later]." This reflects the arrival in our office of further thoughts 
and dictations from abroad by Mr. Gump. He conferred with us several 
times by telephone, from Florence and from Paris, in part to assure 
himself that his work as a composer had been covered adequately in the 
interviews. Indeed with the cassette of dictations that he sent from 
Florence in March 1988 he included a musical interlude of his own 
composing! 

In our editing and subsequent discussions with Mrs. Graham we 
reassessed our success at fulfilling the initial mission of The Bancroft 
Library to document the remarkable store. At the suggestion of Mr. 
Gump, we called Ken Kojima, retired appraiser of fine arts and antiques 
for the Bureau of Customs in San Francisco, a friend of Richard Gump's 
since they first met over a shipment of antiques. Could he and his 
wife come from Modesto, where they had retired, to meet with us and talk 
about traveling with Mr. Gump in Italy in 1972? The resulting inter 
view in which we discussed the making of reproduction antiques, as well 
as the mechanics of importing antique and reproduction furniture, is 
appended. 

The second highly- recommended friend- informant was Paul Faria, a 
Gump's employee from 1947 to 1983, director and buyer for the European 
Furniture and Antiques Department as well as a clarinetist and fellow 
member of the Guckenheimer Sour Kraut band which Richard Gump put 



together in 1949. Paul Faria traveled with Mr. Gump on two three -month 
buying trips through Europe in 1960 and 1964 and in his interview 
attests to the inquisitive mind, non- conforming nature, and continuing 
probing interest in things new and different that motivates Richard 
Gump. 

Paul Faria and Ken Kojima's reminiscences of the value for them of 
time spent with Mr. Gump are underscored by Helen Heninger's statement 
to Town and Country, talking of her time as director-buyer in the Art 
Gallery when Richard Gump was president of the store. "He was wonderful 
to me. He sent me to New York to galleries, museums and to buy. He was 
very knowledgeable and educated me on a fantastic tour through Florence, 
Rome and Paris. You won't find many art dealers who would go to that 
trouble and expense to train their staffs." And the introductory words 
of Johanna Sianta, again stressing the teacher-mentor side of Richard 
Gump, remind us we should not be surprised when this interviewee goes 
from an explanation of the true story behind Madame Butterfly to a brief 
lesson on the Battle of Poitiers. 

We have in this volume an oral core sampling of Richard Gump, how 
he speaks, what he thinks about, and what he has achieved, in music, in 
art, and in business. He has treated with great thoughtfulness his role 
as the last of three generations of family presidents of a San Francisco 
institution that has weathered earthquake, fire, depression, war, peace, 
trade barriers, development, change and more change and is entering its 
127th year. In 1916 Emily Post reported that when she was in San 
Francisco for the Panama Pacific International Exposition, the "Fair," 
with her friends, they were daily asked whether they had been to Gump's. 
"To Gump's?" she said, "Of all the queer sounding things, what is 
Gump's?" In 1981 the president of Macmillan, the broad-based New York 
publishing company that purchased the store from the Gump Corporation in 
1969, answered, "Gump's is unique. It's fascinating. It's like no 
other store anywhere. The buyers are as knowledgeable about their wares 
as museum curators are about their collections." Nothing about that 
uniqueness is accidental, and most everything about it is thanks to its 
last family president, Richard B. Gump. 

I appreciate the help in the preparation of this oral history of 
Paul Faria and Ken Kojima, and of Clariece Graham and Michelle Darr. 
Johanna Sianta, a long-time friend of Richard Gump's with a background 
in art history and advertising, wrote the introduction. James R. K. 
Kantor, UC Berkeley's archivist-emeritus, was my proofreader. The 
Regional Oral History Office is headed by Willa K. Baum and is under the 
administrative supervision of James D. Hart, the director of The 
Bancroft Library. 

September 1988 Suzanne B. Riess 

Berkeley, California Interviewer-Editor 



VI 



Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 



Gump 
University of California 

Berkeley, California 94720 



BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 
'lease write clearly. Use black is^. ) 



Your full name 



Date of birth , 



Father's full 



Mother's full nam 



Where did you grow u 
Present community 

at 




Areas of expertise 






Otaer interests or-, activities 




vii 



Richard Gump 



Record of Employment at Gump's 



1925-26 

1926-27 

1927-30 

1930-32 

1932 

1932-38 

1939-41 
1942-44 
1944-47 
June 30, 
March 1, 
Jan. 1, 
Apr. 30, 



1947 
1952 
1953 
1969 



Apprenticeship, various departments, San Francisco 

Draftsman, Design Department, San Francisco 

European buyer 

Director, Picture Gallery, San Francisco 

Tahiti trip 

[not at Gump's] Designer, art department, 

MGM, Hollywood 

Head Designer, Gump's, Honolulu 

Manager, Discovery Shop, San Francisco 

Vice -President and General Manager 



Jan. 3, 1972 
Apr. 30, 1972 



President and General Manager 
Reclassified, President only 
Reclassified, President and General Manager 
Chief Executive Officer when acquired by 
Crowell, Collier and Macmillan, Inc. [CCMI] 
Chief Executive Officer of Gump's Division 
when Gump's, Inc. merged into CCMI 
Retired 



Greatest Satisfactions 

"At the age of nine when a symphony played a work of mine. . ." 
"When I shot in the seventies..." 
"When I first soloed (a seaplane) on June 19, 1961..." 

Most Beautiful Places in the World 

Lincoln Cathedral, "where I'd like to play the organ before I 
die," and Moorea. 



Insight 
'I'm a gregarious recluse." 



Vlll 



Presented to Richard Gump OR the llth Day of April 1989 





The Highest Authorities of the California!) University Systems 
and their Offspring at Moorea Coincide in their Agreement 

that 

GUCKENHEIMER SOUR KRAUT BAND CREATOR, 

COMPOSER and DIRIGENT, 

EAU-DE-VIE COLORIST, BEST-CELLERY-for-TWO, 
MERCHANT PRINCE, and CITOYEN DU MONDE 



Benny Boy qump 
, captain Bliqh 

6esecves and Receives the ultimate titles of 

teRRestRial maRine Biologist 
scientist honoRis causa 

CONNOISSEUR of the LANDS and the WATERS BETWEEN 
ANGKOR and the ONE-LEGGED-CHICKEN INN 



IN RECOGNITION OF 

HAVING PUT UC BERKELEY ON THE MAP IN THE SOUTH SEAS 
AD MULTOS ANNOS, AMICUS 





w/ '& 




Werner Loher 

R. B. Gump South Pacific Biological 
Research Station, Moorea 



;zs 

X. 








I FAMILY. CHILDHOOD. EDUCATION 
[Interview 1: June 12. 1987]## 

Religion 



Riess: You were born January 22, 1906 in San Francisco. Tell me about your 
family. Was it the comfortable San Francisco Jewish middle class? 

Gump: Not the Jewish necessarily. I was brought up where I never thought 
anything about whether I was Jewish or Gentile or what. I just 
thought I was one of the guys. Then my brother Robert and I moved 
from public school, it was Grant School here, to Potter School which 
was something like the Urban School. It was a place where the 
"better society" family kids went. 

I never thought about being Jewish, but I remember going up to 
boys' camp, in 1918 that was, and for some reason or another some 
guy said, "Hey Gump, you 1 re Jew ish?" I said, "Yes." I hadn't ever 
thought, am I Jewish or what? But there were guys there who were 
anti-Semites! And I'll never forget playing in the yard at Potter 
School before classes or before the bell rang, whatever, and this 
guy pushed my head in the sand. He said, "That's for you, you 
sheenie." Okay, fine. I mean, what the hell did I do? Okay, I'm 
sheenie. I didn't know, I never heard the expression until this guy 
came along. But he and I later became great friends in San Francisco. 

Riess: You didn't feel Jewish? 

Gump: No. My brother was confirmed; I wasn't even confirmed. I never had 
a Bar Mitzvah, 

Riess: Your father, Abraham Livingston Gump [1869-1947], had his religious 
upbringing been more orthodox? Did the Gumps attend temple? 

Gump: Mother's father [Benjamin Harris Lichtenstein] did whenever he 

could, and I don't know about my father's father [Solomon Gump]. My 



##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 171. 



Gump: father did on special days, but in general no. My grandfather 

[Solomon Gump] at one time got some property down in Kern County. 
And he got it with the idea that maybe he would make a Jewish home, 
a future Jewish home, because you know the Jews were wandering all 
over at that time. There was no Israel at that time. I'm talking 
about before the turn of the century. But it turned out this was 
oil property. We didn't get any oil on it but leased the mineral 
rights to various oil companies over the years. Getty had a lease 
on it for a while. 

My maternal grandfather didn't look Jewish at all he was a 
blue-eyed German. He could be part of the German general staff, or 
something, a Junker-type. My mother was half-Irish Catholic. I 
asked one of these Catholic fathers who was a historian at the 
University of San Francisco about the name Pendergast, my maternal 
grandmother's maiden name. He said, "Oh, Pendergast, that's not a 
Celt name. It's Norman." I said, "Wonderful!" I didn't know. If 
the Pendergasts are Norman, then we're higher-bred, I think. Of 
course, the Normans evidently when the Scots pushed over into 
northern Ireland, you see, they fought the Celts. (I guess the 
Kilties fought the Celts. [laughs]) 

But getting back to that, I never felt particularly Jewish. If 
there's a Jewish cause, I'll be glad to help. But I didn't go out 
of my way because a guy was Jewish. There are "professional Jews," 
which I hate. Or professional blacks. I told Jerri Lange one 
time she talked about being black and I said, "For God's sake, 
don't be a professional black." I don't like that, because you only 
segregate yourself. Why segregate yourself? Do you see what I 
mean? [Jerri Lange is a television producer/writer who did 
interviews on Channel 9 in San Francisco. She is the mother of Ted 
Lange who was the bartender on the "Love Boat" tv series.] 

Riess: Yes. 

Gump: The only thing I'm snobbish about is intellect. Because I can't be 
bothered with people who are bores. 



Grandparents 

Riess: Tell me more about your mother, Mabel Beatrice Lichtenstein [1878- 
1934]. Her father was Benjamin Harris Lichtenstein. 

Gump: We called him "Gar-Gar Benny." He was a marvelous character, one of 
the greatest guys I ever knew. We spent summers with him. He had a 
beautiful piece of property over in San Rafael, six acres on Locust 
Avenue by the Dominican convent. He bought the property finally. I 
vsed to walk downtown with him and his wife [Frances Davis], my 
mother's stepmother. Sometimes as I would walk away from his place 



Gump: I could hear the piano playing. But I liked to take the other route to 
town because the S & A Studio girls were there, all in makeup. I 
didn't know it; I thought, gee, they're wonderful. And I was pretty 
young, but it shows that there's such a thing as sex when you're 
very young. 

Riess: What studio? 

Gump: S & A Studio. Before Hollywood, S & A Studio was in San Rafael. 
I'm talking about 1909-1912, I guess. 

Riess: And it was a movie studio? 

Gump : Oh yes. 

Riess: And what was your mother's father's background? 

Gump: He was born in St. Louis in 1848. Then nobody knows where he was 
for twenty or thirty years. He finally ended up in San Francisco, 
and in 1900 retired with a million bucks. Boom he just stopped 
making money. He had a hock shop on Third Street, I think it was. 

He taught me about judging people. I was just a kid; I was 
thirteen when he died. He called me "Benny boy" because my middle 
name was Benjamin, named after him. And he used to tell me things 
like, "Now, when you're walking down the street look at people and 
wonder what they're like, what they're thinking and all that." I 
realized afterwards he got to know people so well, when they wanted 
to borrow money or something, he could judge people inside-out and 
backwards. Evidently he adored me; that's what my mother said. I 
learned an awful lot from him about people. And imagine, he died 
when I was only thirteen. 

I remember he said, "Now, here's a book that shows you about 
people's characters. Look at a person's hands. If there are holes 
between them, it means they can't keep money." Well, of course, in 
those days they used to have that sort of belief. And do you know 
what happened? My grandfather had told me about this. I was down 
on the first floor of the store doing the Christmas scene. (My 
brother and I used to go to work around Christmastime.) I was down 
there and my father said, "Take your hands out of your pocket!" 

I said, "Why do you have to speak to me like a slave driver?" 
He said, "Why are you calling me that?" 

I said, "Because Grandpa Benny said that people with ears 
pinned back are slave-driver-types, and you're a slave-driver type." 
Oh geez. he was mad! But that's how I got that, from my mother's 
father. 



following p. 3 



Solomon Gump and his grandson Richard, 1906 












Gump: Dad had a bad habit of being very terse and bossy. So between his 
roughness and his very powerful verbose voice he had a marvelous 
voice and my mother being very excitable, I all my life have played 
down everything. In fact, even when I shot myself I saved my life 
because I was so calm or the Boy Scouts saved my life, because the 
guy with me [Ray Lichtenberg] hadn't been to Boy Scouts and blood 
was pouring out of my leg, and I said, "Let me have a handkerchief." 
He said, "You can't do anything." I said, "I want to tie a 
tourniquet." He said, "What the hell is that?" I said, "I don't 
know, just give me the handkerchief." So I tied a tourniquet around 
and saved my life. And then he was going to carry me. I said, "No, 
don't carry me." 

In other words I don't want to go into detail, but I was very 
calm about the whole thing, even though the blood was pouring out. 
And they said that if it was a quarter of an inch deeper I would 
have hit the main artery and I would have killed myself right there. 
I would have bled to death right on the spot. I still have some of 
that [calmness]. In fact, when people say to me, "For Christ's 
sake, hurry up! You've got lead in your ass," I say, "Yes, I have 
an x-ray to prove it." 

Riess: Did you go over and spend summers in San Rafael? 

Gump: Oh, yes, every summer I was over there. It was the last house on 
Locust Avenue. 

Riess: What was the influence of Solomon Gump, your father's father, on 
your life? 

Gump: Well, he liked my brother and me very much. I remember he had this 
slightly German accent, although Sidney Schwartz, my cousin, said he 
never had a German accent. But I remember he said, "Mein Robert und 
Mein Richard." And I thought of him as "Gaga with the slobbery 
kisses." Well, the reason was because he had a stroke and it 
paralyzed part of his mouth, you see. So that was "Gaga with the 
slobbery kisses." That was Solomon Gump. 

Riess: Did the larger family gather around often? The Lafayette Gumps and 
Alfred Gumps and all these other Gumps? 

Gump: Yes. Later on, you see, when my father moved, when he separated 

from my mother, he lived down at the Palace Hotel with his sister, 
Goldina Swabacker. She lived there, and Alfred Gump lived there, so 
they used to be together, and Will used to come down there. They 
met every Sunday evening. I used to be there. That's why I never 
learned to play bridge, because of these uncles and aunts screaming 
at each other. You know, "Why did you do that? Why did you lead 
with this?" and all that sort of thing. I can't play cards if I 



Gump : 

Riess ; 
Gump: 



have to be screamed at like that, you know. Of course, it was a 
sibling scream. I mean, you can be pretty noisy, I don't care 
whether you're Jewish or Gentile or what. 

It sounds like a fairly hot-tempered bunch. 

Well, it was not so much temper. It was just, "Why did you lead 
with your ace when you know damned well I gave you the signal for 
such-and-such?!" I mean, my God, if that's fun I don't want any 
part of it. I didn't mind playing poker. I could hold my end up 
with my father, see. And my brother played absolutely crazily! I 
remember one time at Tahoe my brother did some crazy raise that was 
impossible. My father could still see the cards fairly well and he 
said, "Robert, for God's sake, never play poker." But I kept up 
with my father pretty well. 



The Violin 



Riess: 
Gump: 



When you and your brother and sister were growing up together, did 
you eat meals with your parents or were you segregated? 

No, at first we were separate. We didn't dine with them in the 
evening until my brother got long pants and I guess I got long pants 
at the same time. Then we would dine with my mother and father. If 
they had guests then we would, depending on who the guests were. 
Otherwise, my sister and my brother and I would dine separately with 
a governess. 

Riess: So you had a governess? 



Gump: 









Oh, yes. She was a very brilliant person. She ended up head of the 
Irwin Blood Bank. Kathleen Curtis. She was a graduate of the 
Dublin Conservatory of Music, and when I played the violin later we 
used to play together. She played the piano beautifully. 

But I couldn't stand the darned violin, and I want to find out 
from [Isaac] Stern and other violinists who the hell twisted the 
violinist's wrist. That's so unnatural. You can't get a vibrato! 
Oh, you can if you work hard enough at it. I still want to know who 
broke the arms of the violin player. I've gone through ancient 
sculptures. For instance, on Chartres Cathedral I see them holding 
the thing this way [demonstrates]. They said, "Well, they couldn't 
rest it on their chin." And I said, "Well, why couldn't they rest 
it on their knee? What's the law against having a long spike on the 
bottom of the thing to hold it this way." [demonstrates again] I 
know I would have no trouble at all on the vibrato, just like on the 
cello, no trouble at ?.ll. 




ROBERT AND RICHARD GUMP 







Mabel and Abe Gump , To his sister, Mrs. -Lou Swabacke. 

The date is unclear, probably 19C8 



Riess: If you go back through art you can see a time when it changed? 

Gump: I'm trying to trace that. I want to ask Stern, because he's quite a 
bright guy. I have to remind him one time he drove me home from 
Berkeley, before he was famous. He's a very nice guy, and a great 
violinist. And I remember he and I were talking baseball most of 
the time he's a baseball nut, too. 

But I quit violin because I couldn't stand it. I could hear 
guys playing ball out in the street, and I bit a hole in the back of 
my violin I got so mad playing it. Literally. So my mother said, 
"I guess you'd better not play the violin. 

Riess: You bit a hole in it? 

Gump: In the back of the violin, yes, where the chin rest is. I got so 
mad. I would hear that sound of the bat drop out in the street. 
It's like in football, hearing a person punt, you know, for a kick, 
you hear that sound. And then I heard that and I just couldn't 
stand itl 






Mother, Dramatics 



Riess: But the music side of your life did come from your mother's family, 
the musical interest? 

Gump: Oh, she appreciated it. She studied voice at one time. My father 
said her voice was terrible. Maybe he was exaggerating, I don't 
know, it wasn't Tetrazzini. But my mother was so good as an amateur 
actress that they wanted to give her a contract on Broadway. That's 
when Broadway was big. They had quite a few theaters going in those 
days. Of course, she decided she couldn't do that because we were 
growing up and they didn't want to neglect the children. 

Riess: You mean she tried out? 

Gump: Well, at the Little Theater. Reginald Travers you've probably heard 
of him, he was very famous at the Bohemian dub because he used to 
run all the big shows, and he also was the director of this little 
theater, you see. 

Riess: In San Francisco? 

Gump: Yes. 

Riess: What was it called? 

Gump: It was called "the little Theater." 



Riess : Just the Little Theater? 

Gump: I believe so. Anyway, they got an old church on Bush Street, 

between Octavia and Gough, I guess it is. And there was a church 
there that was converted into a theater. It was very nice. I 
remember seeing some Shakespeare, and they did Gilbert and Sullivan 
quite often there. And she was in "Ruddigore." [Mr. Gump explains 
pronunciation of "Ruddigore," its relationship to the expression 
"Bloody," and "Bloody's" blasphemous origins.] 

My mother was the lead in quite a few things.* She did a very 
famous show called "Big Kate," which was a one-act play. She had 
the part of Catherine the Great, and I'll never forget how 
inauthentic the costume was. She had on a Russian costume. (Maybe 
I can find a picture of it; in fact, I know where I have one. And 
she's got this big Russian thing.) But Catherine the Great came 
from Germany to start with, and if ever there was a francophile, she 
was one. She was nuts about the French, everything French. As you 
know, she got Voltaire over there, and Diderot, and all those people 
went over to see her, Catherine the Great. So she wasn't so hot 
about Russia. 

Anyway, my mother did this part, a very famous show. And then 
this guy was going to make a three-act play of it, and she was 
offered the lead on Broadway. She was that good, that she would get 
an offer for a lead on Broadway. And she was always interested in 
the theater. She was a marvelous mimic. 



Home Environment 



Riess: At home did you see that side of her? 

Gump: Oh, she would do it. But the trouble was I grew up with my father 
and my mother both being very, very strong characters, each one 
trying to hold the fort, being the lead. And it was a tough thing 
to grow up with. I remember I used to go home in the evening and I 
would feel pretty hungry and I would think, how nice, we'll sit down 



*Parts played by Mabel Gump in local theater: Bush Street Theater 
in Knoblock's "Big Kate"; leading part in "Fashion" (ca. 1845) at 
Players Club, Sept. 3, 1924; Katisha in "The Mikado"; Mad Margaret 
in "Ruddigore," an infrequently attempted Gilbert & Sullivan musical 
in which she sang "Only Roses"; "Catherine of Russia," and for this 
performance in 1920 she was offered 26 weeks on the Keith-Albee 
Circuit but A. L. Gump said, according to Robert Gump's notes, "No 
American gentleman would permit his wife on the professional stage." 



Gump: and have a nice dinner, then they would get in an argument and it 
would spoil my whole meal. I mean. I remember looking forward to 
it, and then there would be an argument with these two terribly 
strong characters. Both of them were very, very dynamic people. 
Anyway, maybe that's why I pulled in my shell a great deal. When 
things got tough, I never got excited. It worked backwards; I'd get 
cooler. Probably in the long run it was lucky that I got that way. 
My brother was excitable. (My sister was such a selfish person, I 
won't even mention much about her.) 

Riess: Were you and your brother close because of this? 

Gump: Oh yes, he and I were very close. We never had any terrible fights 
or anything like that, or any jealousies. It's funny; he always was 
proud of my being able to draw and that sort of thing. Whereas he 
used to make little drawings, he said, 'There's the artist." I was 
"the artist," see. 

Riess: That labeling happens in families, doesn't it? 

Gump: It's not right because there's no reason why he shouldn't try 

drawing. I'd say, "Why don't you do it?" And he'd say, "Oh, you go 
ahead and make the drawing, you're the architect." 

I remember while he was going to Harvard I used his room as a 
studio upstairs. And I used to do plans every weekend and every 
morning. I got up at 5:30 in the morning. By 6:00 I was drawing, 
and from 6:00-7:00 I would do an architectural drawing. My mother 
and father awoke right on the dot of 7:00, so then I went down and 
practiced the piano, from 7:00-8:00. By 8:00 I was up and running 
to school Potter School is at the corner of Gough and Pacific, so I 
would practically run there anyway. And then I would play in the 
yard there and had a lot of fun, whatever sport was in that season. 
I always enjoyed that. So yes, I had quite a full life; I enjoyed 
an awful lot and accomplished an awful lot. 

Riess: Your mother was probably torn by that offer, but she chose to stay 

and be a mother. Do you think that was a very hard decision for her? 

Gump: Well, she waited until 1925 to separate from my father. She and my 
sister went to Europe. Because I was ill I was back here with my 
father; my brother was at Harvard at that time, but I was living 
with my father at the Palace Hotel. When my mother came back we 
stayed at the Fairmont. She had a marvelous suite there at the 
Fairmont with terrific furniture. I remember the Bishop of Malaga's 
bed, a big Spanish bed. That suite at the Fairmont was on the 
second floor, southeast corner of the Fairmont. There was a living 
room about the size of this at least. 

Riess: And she furnished it? 



Gump: Oh yes, she had bought all the stuff in Spain. In fact, I have one 
thing left I'll show you that she bought for me, Cordovan leather 
chest (circa 1600) . 

Riess: Did she have as good an eye for things as your father? 

Gump: Oh yes, marvelous. She had the appreciation. The story about my 
mother is that she's the one, she told me herself, she said, "You 
know, I literally on my bended knee begged your father to hire Mr. 
[Ed] Newell." She used to go to Chinatown where he had this little 
shop, and he would explain to her about these Oriental wares and got 
her fascinated. At the same time she also was a protege of the lady 
who discovered Picasso, Sally Stein.* And so Sally Stein was trying 
to tell her how interesting these things by Matisse were. In later 
years Sally Stein said to me, "Oh, I remember you in your little 
dresses." I was then the head of the galleryl I said, "Well, I 
didn't wear dresses!" But they dressed kids that way in those days, 
when boys were about two or three. 

Riess: Leo Stein was one member of the Stein family, and then there was 
Gertrude, of course. 



Gump: Well, that's the sister of Leo. Sally was married to Michael Stein. 
And she got my mother interested in art. I met her later. She 
moved back to Palo Alto. Mr. Newell told me she was there. He was 
still alive then so we went to see her. I said, "You were a pioneer 
in a lot of things. How did you happen to use Corbusier as an 
architect?" And she said, "Well, he gave me his ideas; I thought 
they were rather interesting. I said, 'Build me a house.'" That 
got Corbusier going, to say nothing of Matisse and a few names like 
that that you've probably heard of a few times. 

Riess: But you are saying your mother was very important in influencing the 
direction of the whole store. 

Gump: Oh, absolutely. Just as an example: Alfred [Gump], I always liked 
him. He was an awfully nice guy, and he was always very generous. 
But he was a wonderful malaprop. You can quote me on that one. He 
would say, "Now, I want you to go into the Italian room and look at 
the Christ on Cavalry [Calvary]." I thought, well, he got it mixed 
up with a western. Or he would say, "Well, go up and see Christ in 
Yosemite [Gethsemane] ." 

Gump: [Added later] To explain why I admired my Uncle Alfred more than my 
father I should probably tell two stories. I went to Istanbul on a 
buying trip. I was only twenty- two years old, I think. And it 



*See also Elise Stern Haas, The Appreciation of Quality. Regional 
Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, 1979. 



10 

Gump: turned up in the accounting back in San Francisco that I had spent 
an awful lot of money down there. Stanley Corcoran said. "You'd 
better speak to your uncle about this. He knows you've been 
spending an awful lot of money. Why don't you explain?" 

Well I did tell him that I had had a very good time. I felt no 
remorse or anything. I hired a yacht, went out in the middle of the 
Sea of Marmara, which is right off Istanbul, with a couple of girls 
from a brothel and fellows from our office. I spent quite a lot of 
money there. So I explained the whole thing to my uncle. 

"Well," he said, in a very nasal voice, "I don't mind you 
spending money on girls who wouldn't at your age? It's the idea 
that you're spending so much money you must have been very drunk. 
You shouldn't spend so much money drinking!" 

I said, "Yes, I realize that, Uncle Alfred." 

And he said, "Well, as long as you've explained to me where 
that big bill came from, from the Istanbul office, as long as I know 
about it." And that was all that was ever said about it. He never 
mentioned that again. He didn't even act as if I had done wrong. 

On the other hand, here's my father. (This does not affect 
me.) Always he was telling my brother, "That terrible deal you made 
with Milton Esberg! You lost so much money trading a motorcycle 
with him." Always negative, negative, negative. He didn't know 
anything else. Probably it was the contrast between my uncle and 
his brother, my father, that made me realize the nice person my 
Uncle Alfred was, unlike my father, who would never let bygones be 
bygones. 

As my father got older, and when I was made General Manager, I 
said to him, "You have to work through me," and after that he 
relaxed and he wasn't such a martinet. I think it relaxed him." 
[End of addition] 

Father's Blindness, and Voice//// 

Riess: How blind was your father? 

Gump: Oh, this is a great story. I think we have to put this in there. 

Some woman asked that very question who came to work at Gump's. She 
was a woman who was a terrific wit and she said, "Tell me how blind 
is the elder Gump." I said, "Well, I'll tell you how blind he is. 
You take a handful of nickels and drop them off the balcony to the 
first floor and he'll go down and find every one. Tha':'s how blind 
he is." Because he could see fairly well then. The trouble 



11 



Gump: is, his eyes got worse and worse and worse, and finally he was 

totally blinc. He had glaucoma. OJ course, today they can fix it 
with laser beams, I understand, that sort of operation. His father 
took him to the top man in New York to look at his eyes, but he 
couldn't do anything for him. So he had to quit school I think 
that's in the book.* 

Riess : Lafayette, the brother, was really blind. 
Gump: Yes, he was. 

Riess: And your father's blindness in Carol Wilson's book, she says that 

the trauma of your mother's departure "sent him into utter darkness." 

Gump: You mean it affected his sight. 

Riess: Yes. I thought she meant it literally. 

Gump: Not that I know of. I don't think so, because I remember I bought a 
whole bunch of Old Masters in 1930 when I went to Europe. And he 
would look at them closely, like this, you see. [Mr. Gump 
demonstrates] And he would say, "Well, I don't know about this. 
That looks like a nice Van Dyke." I remember he would look at it. 
Nobody was telling him. And that was in 1930. My mother had 
separated in '25 or '26, I don't know exactly. Maybe you can find 
out exactly. 

Riess: It also in the book said that he had to memorize information about 
the look of works of art, that he had to be told by other people.** 

Gump: Oh yes, it was amazing. I can tell you a story about that, if you 
want to get on that subject. 

Riess: I was just interested, when you were a child, in what it was like to 
have a father who was in some way functionally blind. 

Gump: Well, we weren't conscious of his poor sight. He walked quite well; 
he loved to walk. He loved to go out to the beach and walk the 
whole length of the beach, from the Cliff House all the way down to 
the end there. I hated walking. 

Riess: So there was no way that he needed he didn't lean on you and Robert 
because of his blindness. He didn't need you to guide him? 



*Gump's Treasure Trade, by Carol Green Wilson. Crowell Co., Publ., 
N.Y. , 1965. 

**Wilson, op. cit., pp. 191, 192. 



12 



Gump: No. no. Oh. he used to ask me to drive for him. And I think he 
felt that I was better at the wheel than my brother. My brother 
would step on the brake too fast, that sort of thing I knew how he 
drove so it didn't bother me, but it would have bothered somebody 
who didn't see well. I'm always careful of how I drive, definitely 
for myself, alone. When I have passengers I think, fine, let them 
see what I'm going to do. I don't suddenly step on my brake unless 
there's an emergency. 

I remember there was quite an earthquake when we were living at 
the Palace. At that time across the street I remember some big 
plate glass windows broke. It was maybe up to 4 or 5 on the Richter 
scale. He said, "Well, let's go out for a drive." I had my car 
right there, I remember I had a Chrysler roadster, so we went for a 
drive in this sportscar. Well, now, he wouldn't have asked me to take 
him for a drive if I was a lousy driver. It just occurs to me now. 

Riess : Okay, so it wasn't a big thing in your life, your father being 
blind? 

Gump: Well, no, having poor sight, let's put it that way. Oh yes, later 
on he couldn't see, period. 

Riess: I think there was a time when he went off with Mr. Newell for five 
months or something, to the Orient? 

Gump: That's right. 

Riess: Then did the whole tenor of the household change? It was much 
easier to be there without him? 

Gump: He went away in 1917. Let's see, I was at Grant School before I 

went to Potter's. No, I don't remember any particular difference, 
because we didn't dine at the table with him or anything like that. 
My mother was very interested in theater then, too, you see. 

Riess: So she was away a lot, too? 

Gump: Yes, and then during the First World War there was this canteen, 

they called it, down on Lombard. And a bunch of soldiers were going 
through to Vladivostok, particularly Belgians. And I remember they 
had to have her because she spoke French. See, my mother spoke, 
read, and wrote four languages. 

Riess: Do you think when they married that it was a great love match? 

Gump: Oh, yes, it was, definitely. My mother said, "Your father had more 
sex appeal than any man I ever met." That's a nice thing to say. 

Riess: Yes, it's greatl 



13 

Gump: He had a beautiful voice, too. He had a marvelous speaking voice. 

Riess: You mentioned that, yes. What was the quality of it? Tell me about 
it. 

Gump: Well, it was just a beautiful rounded voice. The funny thing is he 
didn't speak French, but he would get in a restaurant in Paris with 
my mother and he had a marvelous ear and he would say, 'Carqpn!" 
He acted like a Frenchman, he looked like a Frenchman, he had a 
moustache. And the waiter would say, 'iDui. monsieur, qu'est-ce que 
vous desirez?" And he would say, "What did he say, Mother?" (He 
always called my mother. Mother.) And the waiter would think. 
"What's the matter with this guy? I thought he was French!" 
Because he had such a fast ear. He could tell stories, too. Don't 
kid yourself. Why do you think he was such a great salesman? 



Interests - Music and Baseball 



Riess: I liked your description of yourself getting up in the morning and 
doing your architectural drawings and your piano practice, and so 
on. I wonder what kinds of books you read as a boy? 

Gump: I didn't read very much. I wasn't an avid reader until lately. 

I've been reading an awful lot down in the South Seas. My brother 
did a lot of reading, and I would listen to what he and my mother 
would discuss about books, I would drink in what they were saying. 
People would think I read a lot; I didn't, I was more creative; I 
wanted to be drawing or something, playing the piano. 

Another thing, I realize why I never was a good musician not 
counting the great Guckenheimer's Band, see. I couldn't read well 
because I'd anticipate too much. 

Riess: What do you mean? 

Gump: I would see an F# but I would feel it should be an F, so I would 
play an F. And it wasn't an F, it was an F#. You see I would 
anticipate because I was creative, instead of just being a cold 
blooded reader. And that makes a lousy reader. But I did have a 
nice touch on the piano, I can say that. I can sit down at the 
piano and you'll think, ''Geez. this guy must play beautifully." 
I've lost all my technique, though. 

Riess: When did they start you on piano and art and all of that? 

Gump: Oh, when I was five or six, something like that, I remember I had 
this old Dutch man, a Hollander, who taught me one time. And then- 
this is interesting, this occur ed from this early training years 



14 



Gump: 






Riess : 
Gump: 



Riess: 
Gump: 



Riess : 
Gump: 

Riess; 
Gump : 

Riess: 
Gump: 



later Reah Sedowsky introduced me to Antonio deGrassi who for years 
belonged to the Bohemian Club. I said. "Oh, Reah, Mr. deGrassi 
taught me the violin." And he said, "No, I didn't teach you the 
violin. I gave you lessons. Nobody taught you the violin." I 
said, "That's true, that's the wrong word to say you taught me." 
kidded me about that. 



He 



In fact he played my violin and piano sonata at a concert in a 
hall on Washington Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street. 
And there was a big audience for that concert. Seven people! I 
have to tell you about that. There were only seven people because 
it was three days after Pearl Harbor, and everybody was scared to go 
out. My father and my mother's stepmother my mother had died, you 
see, in 1934 or 1935. And Miss Curtis, my mother's stepmother's 
companion. 

But that's a funny one about learning the violin. He worked 
like hell on me. He even had his wife come over and give me lessons. 



Because you really wanted to be good? 



Well, I never should have taken the violin. That's the great 
mistake. If I had taken the cello, by God, I'd be playing great 
cello right now. Because I would get a vibrato on the cello. I 
write very well for cello. In fact I write so well people think I 
play the instrument. 

And the piano? 

That was before I took up the violin. I told you I made a hole in 
my violin so my mother said, "I don't think you want to do that." 
Later on my mother's stepmother paid for me to take jazz piano 
lessons at the Christiansen School of Music. [imitates rhythm] 
That was in 1920, wonderful rhythm in those days. 

And how about the art lessons? 

I went to Saturday classes at the Mark Hopkins Hotel [California 
School of Fine Arts], The school was right there, you see, before 
they built the hotel. 

Was it uncommon for a boy to be doing all of this artistic stuff? 

Well, it was a matter of enjoyment as far as I was concerned. I 
enjoyed this stuff, the same as I enjoyed playing baseball. 

You did both? 

Oh sure. I ended up playing golf fairly well, until I hurt myself, 
slipped in Paris and broke my femur. But I got fairly good at golf. 
At Lake Merced, even though it had the smallest greens in northern 



15 



Gump: California, I was a 12-handicap there for ten years, which isn't 
bad. The funny thing is I would g*i over to other courses and I 
would ask the pro, "How is it?" this is still going back to what I 
was able to do "How is it I get on these strange courses, I'm on 
the green, and here I have a hell of a time down there?" He said, 
"Don't you know these are the smallest greens in northern 
California?" And here I'd been playing the damn course for ten 
years and never knew it! 

But to get back to it. like all kids I would have a baseball 
and slam it against the wall and imagine I'm playing shortstop or 
second. And just like all kids, I had a picture of myself as a 
baseball player, never a pitcher, I never thought I was a pitcher. 
I didn't have enough speed. My hero was Ping Bodie, who was the 
centerfielder for the Seals. He came from Cow Hollow in San 
Francisco. Then he went out and played for Detroit, I think it was, 
the big leagues. Then he became an umpire. He was in the National 
League. I'll look him up. I have a great big book here. 

Riess: You took baseball seriously. 

Gump: I identified with them, thought maybe I could be a ball player 

someday. At the same time a fellow ran a gymnasium that a lot of 
kids went to where I learned to box starting at five years old. He 
was the son of Wieniawski, the famous violin composer. And so he 
introduced me to Mischa Elman. So that was also another ideal. But 
baseball overtook the violin. 

I'll tell you what happened to Wieniawski. (Everybody called 
him Mr. Wienie.) He had a wonderful group of boys learning to box, 
and athletics. I remember I learned something about epees and 
sabers and stuff. (There's another thing that came in handy years 
later, and I've forgotten where. [laughs]) 

But sometime during the First World War, I think it was 1917, 
something like that, he made an anti-Semitic remark. He was Polish, 
you see, an upper-class Pole. And word got around and the Jews pulled 
all the kids out of the gym. I remember I went to a concert and 
here he is there. He recognized me and I recognized him but I wouldn't 
talk to him because of the schism built up. He did this and so the 
Jewish people cut him out. He lost half the kids going there. 

Riess: It got around. 

Gump: I don't really know what he said or anything like that. It was 
anti-Semitic. 

Riess: Did you have to account each day to your father for what you'd done 
that day? Did he care? 



16 

Gump: Oh. yes. He would say, "What did you do today?" And I would say. 
"Oh. we practiced baseball." or "We practiced football," or "We 
played basketball." I was in all three sports. Those are the only 
ones they had at Potter's. 

Riess: Your father cared a lot about sports too, didn't he? 

Gump: Oh, yes. And the funny thing they were talking just the other day 
during one of the games about the early days of baseball, when you 
could tell the pitcher where you wanted the ball pitched. I 
remember my father telling me that when he was young he said you 
could say, "I want a high ball," or "I want it down by my knees." 
Imagine, they used to tell the pitcher that. And if he didn't throw 
it there, you got a ball! Imagine how easy it was for the batters! 

I remember my brother and I went to watch the old Seals play 
out in Recreation Park with my father. He took the two of us to the 
ball game; that was about 1912, I think. He could see it fairly 
well. He could listen to it. He knew everything that was going on, 
listening to it. In fact [my secretary] Mrs. Graham's brother-in- 
law, Roy Nicely, was one of the greatest shortstops that we've ever 
seen around here, one of the shortstops for the Seals. 

Riess: You mentioned the person who introduced you to Antonio deGrassi was 
Reah Sedowsky? 

Gump: Yes. She just had a concert here. She's a concert pianist, a great 
pianist. The two of them were working on my violin and piano 
sonata. 



Potter School Connections 



Riess: Were you close to any of the Potter School teachers? 

Gump: Yes, sure. One of them didn't like me very well. I don't know why. 
He liked my brother but he didn't like me. We called him "Dido," 
like Dido con forme from the Aeneid. We'd kid him and call him 
"Dido with the beautiful shape," see. That's what the kids called 
him. He actually was George Rolfe Humphries and wrote a very long, 
epic poem about baseball that was in an Untermeyer anthology that 
anyone interested in poetry would know. 

Did I tell you how I bumped into Louis Untermeyer, the great 
anthologizer? It was a real triple coincidence, if you can say such 
a thing. I was on my way between Rome and Florence, driving along 
the coast road. And my agent said, "If you're going that way you 
might want to stop off in Tarquinia." Tarquinia is where the best 
collection of Estruscan art is. They've got the best examples in 




1959 



Louis Armstrong and Richard Gump on Armstrong's bus 
traveling from Selb to Munich, Germany, February, 1959. 

"I was working with Rosenthal at their factory in Selb on my 
design for flatware and selecting dinnerware for the store 
when Louis Armstrong had two concerts in one evening at 
the Selb Concert Hall, which usually only has classical stuff. 

"Knowing that 'Satchmo' and his group were going from Selb 
to Munich I asked if they had room for me in their bus, 
which they did. On the trip I suggested to the band's business 
manager that Armstrong should stop off at the famous 
Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth to test his trumpet 
in the pit. I thought it would be a good gag. Unfortunately 
he was too tired after the concerts the evening before. 
No one could possibly realize from his fun-loving appearance 
what a lot of energy he always put into his work. " 



17 



Gump: the museum and they're also down below, in these caverns. They 

found all these places dug under the fields, you know, because it 
was level at one time, I guess. 

Anyway, here was this fellow who had on what looked like a 
Texas tie [bolo], talking to his wife in a very erudite way, in a 
very Ivy League voice. Well, it was blowing terribly outside, after 
we left the place, and he turned to his wife and said, "Once more 
unto the breach, dear friends," this quote from Shakespeare. I 
said, "Oh, Henry VI" When we got out above in the wind he turned 
and said, "Would you 1 ike to j oin us for lunch?" I said, "Yes, I'd 
love to. " 

I sat down at the table and said, "I'm probably fairly well 
known," and I handed him a card. And then he said, "Well, I'm 
fairly well known," and he hands me his card. Then I'm talking 
music talk and I said, "Well, you know, I traveled with Louis 
Armstrong from Bavaria [Selb] where the Rosenthal factory is. He 
gave me a lift down to Munich." He said, "Well, that's a 
coincidence, I just did a jacket for his last record." Then we 
started talking about lecture circuits, and we found we had the same 
agent! Isn't that funny? 

Riess: That is, that's amazing. 

Gump: And then he told me about this neck thing. He said it was a gizzard 
or something out of a prehistoric animal that he had some 
documentation about. It looked like some sort of Arizona souvenir 
of a rock or something but it wasn't at all. He told me it was a 
gizzard. Later on I saw him, he was coming through here to lecture, 
and Peter Stackpole, the photographer, wanted to meet him so we went 
to meet him out at the airport. And I said, "I always have a Life 
photographer drive me around." [laughter] 

Riess: Mortimer Fleishhacker went to Potter School. Was he in your class? 

Gump: Yes. He was very good at mathematics and his mathematics served him 
quite well later, I'm pretty sure, because I know when he died he 
left a lot more than when he first went into business! 

Riess: And who else was in your class? Was it full of later successful San 
Franciscans? 

Gump: Well, there's Willie Dohrmann. He left that company and I haven't 
seen him for years, Willie. I understand he's doing watercolors 
too. He always drew rather well when we were in school together. 

I could name a whole bunch of them Pete Folger of the coffee 
clan. 



18 



Riess: Mr. Fleishhacker said in his interview that it was a school for 

wealthy kids, and they made sure that you got through.* No one ever 
failed. 

Gump: That's true. But in those days you would get a recommendation to 
either Cal or Stanford, that was all. You didn't have to worry 
about college boards. I took the college board exes because I 
wanted to go to MIT. I wanted to study architecture. 

Riess: And what happened about that? 
Gump: I shot myself. 

My mother had a wonderful wristwatch that she had bought and I 
remember she said, "Here, I was going to give you this when you go 
to Exeter." I was going east to Exeter the next year. Then I shot 
myself, so I was back to Potter's, I didn't get to Exeter. I 
remember looking forward to going to Exeter because I noticed they 
had a band or some little orchestra as well as having sports and all 
that stuff. And I checked with a couple of guys who went to Potter 
and also were going to Exeter. I think one of them was Giannini of 
the Bank of America fame. One guy who went to Potter, his family 
owned the Island of Nihau in the Islands you know, that one that's 
owned by the Robinson family? Well, one of the Robinsons was in 
there with me. If I was to mention all the people who are important 
around this neck of the woods that went to Potter School . 

Riess: So was that an important connection for you, would you say, in later 
life, that you had been at Potter School? 

Gump: Sometimes. Sometimes, but very often my wives weren't accepted by 
that society. 

Riess: Your wives weren't accepted by the Potter society? 
Gump: Yes, by my Potter schoolmates' wives, I guess. 
Riess: Did you have some best friends as a boy? 

Gump: Oh, sure. One in 1917 was Malcolm Dewees. He was well-known in 
advertising for years. He just died a few years ago. 

Riess: Was he from Potter School days? 



*Mortimer Fleishhacker, Family, Business, and the San Francisco 
Community. Regional Oral History Office, 1975, p. 9. 



19 



Gump: Yes, I met him at Potter School. His family originally came from 

Sacramento and they moved down here. Anyway, he and I were pals for 
years. I would see him once in a while. Then he lived over in 
Sausalito when I lived over there, and I used to go and see him. 
His wife, she's a psychiatrist and she worked at Cal. When the 
students have a hell of a time with their exes [exams] then she 
would help them out, you know, emotionally. I mean, not for a 
nervous breakdown. It's almost a nervous breakdown if you're 
worrying about an ex, as you know. 



Concordia CLub 



Riess: The Concordia Club did you go there? 

Gump: Oh, yes, I was one of the earliest junior members, my brother and I. 
And Robert Goldman whom I see here now, he's still alive, and I see 
him once in a while. Robert Goldman, Tommy Neubauer, Charley 
Rosenbaum and his brother, Paul Wolf, all those guys we were all 
early members of the Concordia dub. And the Dinkelspiel brothers 
no, they were older. 

Riess: Was that a Jewish club? 

Gump: Oh yes, it was, and that reminds me, when I moved down to Hollywood 
I knew Gouverneur Morris quite well, the writer a. direct descendent 
of Gouverneur Morris who was the ambassador to France he lived down 
in southern California and he did some screen stuff once in a while 
and he wrote for Saturday Evening Post, or Collier's, I don't 
remember which. He was quite wealthy. He had some marvelous 
property right in Monterey, between Del Monte and Monterey itself. 
Anyway, Gouverneur said, "All you have to do to impress those kikes 
down there is" he knew I wouldn't take that as an insult "just 
tell them your grandfather is one of the founders of the earliest 
Jewish club on the west coast. They'll be impressed!" But I always 
forgot to tell them that. 

Riess: Did a lot of business get done at Concordia dub also? Did they 
conduct the affairs of the city? 

Gump: Well, I guess they did because they were wealthy Jewish guys who 
belonged to the club, every prominent Jewish guy. 

Riess: But when you went there 

Gump: Oh no, I went just as a kid in athletics. It was on Saturday 
mornings, I guess when I wasn't going to the art school. 



following p. 19 



Family Portraits 

Above: A.L. Gump, 1940, and Mabel Gump, 1918. 
Below: Richard, Robert, and Marcella Gump, 1910 

Mr. Gump notes: 

"We were at my grandfather's place in San 
Rafael when my mother was expecting Marcella 
[born June 8, 1909]. Robert and I were 
playing outside and I remember seeing a 
buzzard flying overhead and thinking it was 
the stork bringing the baby. I was three and 
Robert was almost six. Someone came down the 
hill to where we were playing and said, "You 
have a baby sister." We said, "Tell her to 
come down to play with us." 






20 



Father and Son 



Gump: I remember oh, this is a story about my father seeing. This is 

funny. They would exhibit all the work of the kids who went to art 
school. Saturday classes they called it. Alice Chittenden was the 
very famous teacher in the Saturday classes. They had this show of 
the stuff and my father said, "Well, that's very nice work of yours, 
but my God, you've got the biggest signature in the whole placel" 
He could see enough to see that, through the cabinet there; he saw 
that my signature was so big. My mother didn't tell him, he just 
noticed it. That's how well he could see at one time. 

That was just about 1917 or '18 I went to the classes. But I 
hated charcoal, and I hated these plaster casts, which every kid 
hates and still hates. I just didn't like the feel of charcoal. 

Riess: Were you being told all along in there that you had a great talent 
and that you ought to pursue art? 

Gump: Yes. Oh, at one time I thought of it. One time I was so annoyed at 
my father, in fact when I left to go to Europe in 1927, I remember 
getting on the train over at the Oakland Mole, you know, and saying 
goodbye to Dad, thinking to myself, "I hope I never see you again as 
1 ong as I 1 ive. " 

Everything was money as far as he was concerned. It got in my 
hair. Money was important, but I never thought of money. Like a 
lot of the great fortunes that have been made by people who never 
thought about making money. They thought of an idea, not money 
itself. I'm not saying that everybody shouldn't think of money, 
there's no reason you shouldn't if you've a mind that can do 
something and create with money. Pity the poor guy who creates an 
idea and can't promote himself! Entrepreneurs, those people are 
valuable to society, whether you're under a communist society or a 
capitalistic society. People who have imagination and are money- 
conscious can help society. As long as they are not beasts and just 
think of money first. 

Riess: But your father? 

Gump: I'll give you an example. Here I am flat on my back after shooting 
myself in the leg, and I can hardly move for a while, see. I had 
all these operations and torture and everything like that. In those 
days you had bandages stuck to your leg and all that. This one day 
it was really awful, I couldn't get comfortable, it was terrible. 
Well, I had the best room in the house at the Dante Sanitarium on 
Broadway and Van Ness, a room where I could see everybody coming and 
going. And of course the food there was absolutely the best food in 
the United States. It was absolutely marvelous. Anyway, he came in 
to see me one time and he looked down at me and he said, "Richard, 



21 

Gump: you're costing me a fortune!" What a terrible thing to say. I 

found out later that year he had made clear a quarter of a million 
dollars, and the income tax was nothing. So do you blame me for 
having this hatred? 

Riess: And there must have been many incidents like that. 

Gump: Well, that one was the worst. I never forgot it. Although he got 

more tolerant and easier so there wasn't this terrible division. We 
got closer, and I lived with him over on the Marina, you know, until 
I got married one of my shots at getting married. 






Family Houses, San Francisco, Saratoga 

Riess: After you had the accident, the family moved? 

Gump: Yes, I couldn't get up the steps to the front door. There were 
sixty-four steps to the front door on Green Street. 

Riess: That Green Street house was designed by Edgar Matthews, brother of 
the artist Arthur Matthews. Was it a very beautiful house? 

Gump: Not particularly, no. My mother's father paid for it. My father 
didn't pay for it. 

Riess: But was it a handsome house? 

Gump: Not necessarily. It was a shingled house. They didn't even go into 
the imitation half-timber, which he did once in a while. That cost 
much more, so it was just plain shingles. You can see the house, 
it's still there. [2559 Green St.] 

Riess: Was it full of beautiful things? 

Gump: Well, yes, there was some terrific stuff. I remember the dining 
room was designed by Judson Allen. He's mentioned in the Gump's 
Treasure Trade. He was a head designer of furniture, a terrific 
guy, and he had a great influence on me because he was a wonderful 
designer and I loved to watch him work. I used to make sketches as 
he did. Maybe I can find one of my old sketch books. 

I remember he designed the dining room set. We put it in. We 
had a set earlier that probably was better, probably a turn-of-the- 
century type thing, but he did a sort of an oak gothic dining room 
set. He just drew the thing out and it was a marvelous set as far 
as we knew, and very luxurious and nice. Today I would call it an 









22 

Gump: abomination but I remember when he was done I thought it was great. 
Probably later on somebody would look at pictures of this room and 
say, "Gee. what a terrible room." I don't know. 

II 

Gump: I remember in 1917 the whole downstairs, the living room was done 
over completely. 

Riess: Was it your mother's taste or your father's? 

Gump: Oh, my mother's. My mother had great appreciation for Oriental 

stuff, as I mentioned. They almost got a divorce in one instance. 

They had an enormous, magnificent lacquer chest that was a 
museum piece. It was this big Japanese lacquer, 18th century the 
best lacquer work. That's when we moved over to Powell Street 
after I shot myself. She got that. My father had a customer, I 
think it was some top guy from Sweden. He said to him, "I want you 
to see this wonderful chest." Mr. Wheeler, I guess it was, said, 
"Well, Mr. Gump, it's sold." "Oh, it's sold. What a shame. 
What's-his-name would be so interested." 

Afterwards he said, "Who was that sold to?" Wheeler said, 
"Mrs. Gump." Oh, geez, as soon as he came home I thought he was 
going to blow the place apart. My mother said, "Well, that's just 
too bad. You should have a few things like that at home." But he 
missed a sale! 

He loved selling. People would walk in there I remember this 
happening one time a person walked inside with no idea of buying 
anything Oriental. By the time he got through with him they were 
starting a collection. He had such a fascinating way of talking. 

He in the long run appreciated what my mother did, no question 
about it. He appreciated her appreciation, let's put it that way. 
And she had a big appreciation. She didn't draw or anything like that. 

Riess: What was the Powell Street place like? 

Gump: It was quite a big apartment. It was a whole half floor at 840 

Powell. I remember there were three bedrooms and two big baths, and 
then there was a sort of back porch. My father used to sit and have 
people read to him. And he had his favorite canary there. He used 
to talk to the canary, and it would come and sit on his nose. [laughs] 

Oh, and he had these goldfish that knew him. That sounds crazy 
but it's true. I can still remember that. He named his goldfish 
after us. Robert, Richard, and Marcella he named them, all three 
names! He would go by and he would hit the glass and they would 
come right over to him, but they wouldn't for anybody else. Well, 



23 

Gump: of course, he always fed them, every morning, so I don't know 
whether it's brilliance or whether it's just survival of the 
fittest, or what. Self-preservation; I guess it was another form of 
that. But it also built his ego, see. Just like dogs do. Dogs do tha 

Riess: In fact, did you have dogs or cats? 

Gump: Oh yes, sure. He liked animals and so did my mother. We've always 
had dogs. Not cats. Not that we disliked cats, but we just 
happened to have dogs. Over in San Rafael we had dogs all the time. 
My grandfather, who had a marvelous sense of humor, he had two dogs 
and he named them Useless and No Use. [chuckles] And I remember I 
didn't like No Use. He was a short-haired dog. But Useless was a 
long-haired dog; I liked him. Now isn't that funny, you can 
remember these little things from being a little kid. 

Riess: San Rafael sounds like it was a fine place for you. What was the 
place in Saratoga, "The Wilderness"? 

Gump: Oh, that was a marvelous place. What happened was when my grandfather 
died, my mother's father, he left quite a lot of money to my mother. 
I remember when we went down to look at that place. A well-known 
guy in the lumber business in Redwood City wanted to sell it. I 
remember my father saying, "Well, I'm afraid, Mr." Mr. Zilch, call 
him "Mr. Zilch, I'm afraid it would be a white elephant as far as 
we're concerned. I don't think we want it." Then my mother said, 
"Well, you're not going to buy it, I'm going to buy it." My 
grandfather had left her some dough, so she paid for the whole 
thing. After she paid for it he said, "You know, I made a great 
mistake by not buying that. I'm glad your mother bought that." It 
was just a marvelous place. Because he loved walking, you see, and 
there were ninety acres there on the Big Basin Road. And he could 
walk all over these places. 

Riess: And so he really took time off then? 
Gump: Yes, every weekend. 
Riess: Every weekend? 

Gump: Yes, he would take the train. The train crossed right at the stop 
on the road between Cupertino and Saratoga, before it continued to 
Los Gatos where it went over the mountains to Santa Cruz. He would 
get on that train around four in the evening, say a Friday evening. 
And whatever it took, say an hour, at 5:00 they would pick him up at 
the station and drive him the two-and-a-half miles up the Big Basin 
Road from Saratoga Crossing. 

Riess: And did your mother go down there, too, as much? 

Gump: Oh yes, very much. She had all kinds of interesting people there. 



24 

Reading and Writing Music 

Gump: I'll never forget one thing that is interesting, about getting me 
interested in music. I had a piano there because I was interested 
in practicing things in those days. And a Dr. Henry Harris who was 
an old friend of the family's. I remember he sat down and played 
Scheherazade. Oh gee, that was so inspiring. That was wonderful. 
So when I took lessons that fall I asked my teacher if I couldn't 
learn one of the movements of that Scheherazade. She said, "I'll 
give you the third movement. The Prince and the Princess." Do you 
know that? [hums a few bars] 

. 
Riess : Yes. 

Gump: Anyway, I learned that on the piano. I realized afterwards, how 
silly, why learn it? She didn't get in an argument with me; she 
didn't say, "Well, why do you want to learn a thing for orchestra?" 
I was so inspired by the sound of Rimsky-Korsakoff that she said. 
"That's a good idea. Learn that." At the same time I think I was 
studying a Schubert march and a Chopin waltz. 

When I was fifteen my teacher was Alma Schmidt-Kennedy. She 
was a marvelous teacher. She was a student of Leschetizky, who was 
one of the greatest pedagogues in piano playing in Europe. She 
taught me how to use a piano properly. The whole trouble was, she 
didn't teach me to read. She taught me how to play, beautifully. I 
learned the same thing with the clarinet. I had the first 
clarinetist of the San Francisco Symphony to give me lessons. I had 
the most marvelous tone, as good as anybody's tone. (Of course, I 
never used that in the Guckenheimer years later.) I had this 
wonderful tone and I never learned to read. It wasn't until I 
started to read the stuff for the band it was simple junk, but I 
really learned to read. I think something should be said here about 
when kids are starting to learn an instrument, they should apply 
themselves to the point where they can read, just the same as the 
kid who is going to go into art he learns to draw properly, and 
then cuts loose to express himself or his troubles or whatever he 
wants to do. 

Riess: Because you found that it was a problem? 

Gump: Not for me. Not in the art field, not in the visual end, because I 
learned to draw. 

Riess: Yes. but in music. 

Gump: Well, I never learned to read, no. 

Riess: It hampered you. 



25 

Gump: It did. It was very stupid, because when I studied theory and 
advanced composition later [1922-27] with [Domenico] Brescia he 
said, "Well, you should learn a little piano. It's important 
because you're composing, just so you can work things out at the 
piano if you want."* So half the time I write without the piano. 

The times I write with the piano I mean, I never know what I'm 
going to do. Like I have two things I'm supposed to write now. The 
physiotherapist's boyfriend has got a marvelous organ. He said, 
"How much would you charge to write something for the organ?" I 
said, "Well, I don't charge anything. I never heard of that." So I 
said, "The only thing is I want to see the organ, because it has all 
kinds of stops." She said, "I know; it has thirty-odd stops." I 
said, "Well, I want to see the stops so I can cue in these stops." 

Riess : That would be fun to work with that. 

Gump: Yes. Well, that's one. And the other thing is, Peggy Salkind said, 
"I wish you'd write something for me." I said, "Do you really want 
me to?" She said, "Oh yes, I'd like you to write something for me." 
And so I'm working on a piece I checked, and there's nothing 
written for cello and harp. Isn't that a natural thing? 

Riess: Oh, that would be lovely. 

Gump: There isn't anything. Ann Adams, who is a harpist, is working with 
me. I'm learning a lot from her. And she says she checked around. 
It seems natural, doesn't it? Can't you mentally hear it? 

I'll tell you where you can hear it, if you want to know. In 
The Swan by Saint-Saens. [hums] In the back there are the 
pizzicato strings. Also the cello is playing the solo, and there 
also are a few harp chords in there. So you can hear the harp and 
cello there, and that's the only thing that I know of. Isn't that 
amazing? There's plenty of harp and violin. 

Riess: You were recalling how your mother used to have people come down to 
"The Wilderness" in Saratoga. 



*My mother knew Artur Bodansky who conducted Wagner at the Metropolitan 
Opera. She knew him in 1926 in Venice and when I was there in 1927 
Mother said, "I would like him to look at your music." I showed him 
some work I had done. He said I was "gifted." He was one of the 
most critical conductors in the world, so that's as high as you can 
go. Also, back in the twenties Barbara Lansburgh (later Chevalier) 
was taking Italian from Domenico Brescia's wife who told her that 
her husband said that I was one of the best pupils he ever had, and 
one of the youngest. 



26 



Gump: Oh. yes, well, I'm thinking of another person, Sally what's-her- 

name, I've forgotten now. They said, "Well, sing the Volga Boatman 
for us, will you?" I thought I was a baritone. What it was, I 
would make some Russian noises. And they said, 'KJee, you've got a 
wonderful voice." But I never studied voice. The only thing, I did 
become a heldentenor with the Guckenheimer. I would sing up to an 
A, and then I couldn't talk the next day. It was like screaming at 
a baseball game, or football, or something. My voice was wrecked 
after one chorus. [laughs] 

Riess: So it was a nice life in Saratoga. 

Gump: Yes, and also on Green Street, too. I mean, interesting people used 
to come there. For instance, the people connected with the theater. 
A lot of the people were very interesting. 

Riess: You and Robert and Marcella would be included and have a chance to 
meet all those people? 

Gump: Well, yes, we would be around there, sure. We would meet the people. 

Another musical person who was the family doctor was Dr. Larry 
Hoffman, a very famous internist. He was also related to the 
family, I think through Gustave Gump, you know, the G of S & G, and 
he also worked his way through medical school playing the flute, so 
he was quite a good amateur. And he thought I should study the 
violin, etc., etc. He was a very nice guy, a very charming person. 
And Dr. Harris, who played the piano awfully well. 

Riess: You were in fact surrounded by a lot of encouragement, even though 
your father was a handful. 

Gump: Well, yes, he didn't object to my thinking I was a basso. He never 
said, "Get out of here, don't bore us." He never did anything like 
that, I must say. He never put the finger on us. 



Remembered Performances 

Riess: Did you go to the Opera and the Symphony with your family? 

Gump: Well yes, we did. I'm glad you asked. "I'm glad you brought that 
up," that's a good question. [laughter] 

Riess: Well, thank you very much! 
Gump: That's a good title for a book! 



27 



Gump: Anyway, yes, my mother did. I remember when I got out of the 

hospital after shooting myself she got these two seats in the back 
of the Curran Theater where the Symphony played every week. The 
heavier symphony was one week, and the second week would be a 
popular sort of thing. They also played in the Civic Auditorium. I 
remember we went there and geez, I ate up the stuff. I remember the 
first time I heard Tchaikovsky's Fourth. I hadn't heard it. You 
see, in those days we didn't have records of those things. I heard 
it on a Friday afternoon, at the Friday afternoon concert series in 
those days, and I was so nuts about Tchaikovsky's Fourth and the 
program notes that Tchaikovsky wrote himself that I went again on 
Sunday to hear it again. That gives you an idea of how enthusiastic 
I was about those things. So I found a lot of emotion that I may 
have lost in my athletic world in ending up trying to create music. 

I'll never forget when I was in the hospital Dr. Heyman, who 
was the surgeon on my leg, he said, "Well, do you know what the 
sonata form is?" I said, "No, I don't know what the sonata form 
is." He said, "Oh, I'd better get somebody to tell you about it." 
I didn't know what a sonata form was. I know what it is now, but 
the way they write today, sometimes I don't think they know that a 
sonata ever existed. I've discussed that with a kid transcribing 
something that I ad-libbed on the piano. He's putting it down in 
music so I can transcribe it for the harp and cello. He has the 
same viewpoint I have, that some of the stuff is so modern you can't 
follow it. It's schizophrenic music. The reason I call it that is 
because they're only speaking their own language. And I doubt if 
anybody else can understand that language. 

Riess: That's right. We don't have time to bother to understand it, or 
wish to. 

And did you go to the opera? 

Gump: Oh yes, sure. When the Chicago Opera used to come out here with 

Chaliapin I told you, Chaliapin was unbelievable, great. He was an 
actor but they talked him into singing. Did you know that? 

Riess : No. 

Gump: Oh, yes, Chaliapin was an actor. He was a monster of a man when he 
was probably fourteen or fifteen and they said, "You've got a great 
voice. Did you ever think of singing?" So he became this 
magnificent basso. That's why he acted so well. 

I used to go to his concerts. He used to sing these songs and 
act out all of the songs. There's one song I remember he used to 
sing. Maybe I can find an old record of it. I's amusing. In the 
song the guy keeps getting drunker all the time and finally this 
girl turns him down and he says, ''Oh, what's the difference? She 
just was a general's daughter." [chuckles] The joke about this, 



28 

Gump: the ironic thing is that there were so many generals in Russia, it 

didn 1 mean much. A general here would be different, see. And they 
had to make a program note on that. But the way he acted, this guy 
getting drunker all the time, was wonderful. And you know that 
famous one. "The Flea"? [imitating Chaliapin]. That's the way he 
gave his concerts, with all this acting. 

I remember seeing him in Boris; I think he did it here, yes. 
Oh. it was wonderful. Then I was in Berlin and he was doing it there, 
in 1930. And they had a Russian chorus come over to sing the choral 
part. I think the principals were all Russians and the orchestra was 
the Berlin Philharmonic. And at the end of each act there was no 
applause, no applause. I thought, well, these are Russians, maybe 
the Germans don't like the Russians. But there was no applause at 
all at the end of any act. Finally at the end of the fourth act, 
when it was over, the house exploded. The Germans are so 
disciplined that they wouldn't spoil the illusion until the end. and 
I never heard such applause in my life for any concert. I'll never 
forget that. Of course, he was so great, and the whole production 
was great. And the stage in Berlin I haven't been to Berlin since 
then. 


Stanford 



Riess : You were recuperating from the accident for two years. It sounds 
like it was much more traumatic than I can imagine. 

Gump: What happened was I went to Stanford for two quarters. I went a 

third quarter but I pulled out of there, but the family never knew 
it, because I got a big blister on my paralyzed foot and didn't know 
it. I was afraid it was getting infected so I just told the dean of 
men, I said, "I think I'd better resign, now." So I never went 
back, and I went to work in the store. 

The reason I went to work this is important is I thought, "I 
can learn much more about arts and all those things through the 
store and through living in Europe in connection with the store than 
I ever would at Stanford." I took the two art courses they had at 
Stanford; they only had two. One of them was Perspective, the one 
quarter. The second quarter it was Shades and Shadows. That's it, 
period. That's all the art they had at Stanford. 

Riess: Why did you choose Stanford? Why didn't you go to a place that had 
more art? 

Gump: I thought I would learn something there at Stanford. At least 

culture. But then I met these guys blowing saxophone. I'm sitting 
down writing counterpoint on the table. I remember Jack Meekin was 



29 



Gump: there, a good musician. He was in my class at Stanford. He said, 

"What are you doing?" I said, "I'm working on counterpoint. Do you 
study?" He said, "No, I don't. It's all up here." I said, "Well, 
that's okay, as long as you've got it." Jack Meekin, you know, 
became quite a musician. He was the one who had the orchestra in 
back of Groucho Marx. Do you remember? 

Riess : No. 

Gump: Groucho Marx would say, "Jack will play the numbers," and he would 
ask for a number. Jack Meekin had his orchestra. 

Riess: When you were recovering from the accident and you were 

concentrating on the art and the music you learned saxophone? 

Gump: No, no, I didn't play the saxophone. I bought every type of 

instrument possible to learn how they worked. I even had a bassoon 
and an E-flat clarinet, a French horn, a melophone. I learned how 
all those things worked so I can write fairly well for the 
instuments. 

Riess: When you were selecting a college to go to, you could have gone 
maybe to an art school. 

Gump: I could have gone to Cal because they had an architectural school 
there. 

Riess: Why didn't you? 

Gump: I don't know, I just thought Stanford was better. Also Stanford was 
close to Saratoga and all that. 

Riess: Yes. 
Gump: 



Riess: 



Gump: 



It was just a youthful thing. Why I went there, I couldn't tell 
you. My brother went there, and then he left and went to Harvard. 

So do you have some hindsights about all of that? Do you kind of 
regret that you hadn't finished at Stanford? 

Oh, no. I never regretted it. I'll tell you why: I've met so many 
people who have got degrees and all that, and most of them should 
have the third degree as far as I'm concerned. [laughs] I'll never 
forget this is a funny story. Ernie Molloy, who became the head of 
Macy's here, came to a meeting of the retailers. A group of us had 
to fight unions, a group of retailers. And he sat next to me, and 
he said, "Who's that there?" I said, "Well, I think that's Cyril 
Magnin." "Oh, I see," he said. "Well, who is that with him?" I said, 
"I don't know, Cro, as far as I know." He didn't get the gag, see. 

Riess: I don't either, I don't think 1 



30 



Gump: Cro-Magnin. 
Riess: Oh. Cro-Magnon! 

Gump: But he didn't even catch it, you see. Now here's a graduate of 
Harvard, of the Harvard Business School! But what good is this 
culture when it doesn't mean anything to them? They get bored to 
death with business. Fortunately, I never was bored anyplace, even 
in j ail. [laughs] 



Family Finances 

Riess: There are various crises described in the Treasure Trade book; 
Gump's family was weathering all sorts of hard times. 

If 

Gump: Well, they saved enough that they had a lot of securities. And so 
when the crash came there still was cash. We still had quite a lot 
of securities. 

Riess: Was it the financial problems that were very hard on your mother? 
Was that one of the reasons your mother left? 

Gump: Well, she said he wasn't the same person she married. Of course, 
who is as far as that goes? But no, she said he became selfish. 
She said, "I'll never forget, when we got married he asked me 
things, 'Are you sure you want this or that? 1 He was so generous." 
Then he suddenly changed. He got acrimonious, I guess is the word. 

Riess : Parsimonious. 

Gump: Yes. A little bit over-thrifty, let's put it that way. 

Panama- Pacific Exposition, and French Lessons 

Riess: What do you recall of the 1915 Exposition? 

Gump: Oh, that was very important. I went as often as possible to the 
Exposition. I was fascinated by it. 



Riess: What kinds of things did you keep going back to? 

Gump: I remember one thing that doesn't interest me so much now, the 

Mechanics Building. It was a very big building and in it there was 



31 



Gump: a lot of stuff like miniature destroyers and battleships and also 
trains, and all that sort of stuff. Being that age, you get 
fascinated with these miniature things. Well, some guys never 
outgrow that. They have model trains in their basements. 

Getting back to the Fair, I remember one time I was walking 
home to a French lesson. I had a teacher waiting for me. I was 
walking up Scott Street, and that Scott Street entrance moves right 
into the Tower of Jewels at the Fair. I remember walking up that 
steep hill there between Union and Filbert. I was looking across 
the street at a Packard that we were supposed to get delivery on it 
was delayed and delayed and delayed, not like now, where they make a 
million at a crack and bang, I walked right into a concrete post. 

You asked me what I was interested in. I knocked myself out 
with that interest in mechanicsl I remember getting to the house 
and going up the sixty-four steps to the front door. My French 
teacher was waiting for me and she said, "You don't look very well. 
What is it?" I said, "Well, my head's funny." She said, "I'll tell 
your mother. You'd better lie down." So my interest in the Packard 
automobile knocked out my interest in French at the moment. 

It wasn't until years later, in 1924, that what I didn't learn 
in French I wish I had. I was only eighteen years old but I was in 
Paris, a young person fooling around in night clubs, and my French 
wasn't very good. I remember my brother picked out some charming 
ladies of the evening probably night also and maybe that's another 
good book title, maybe "Knights of the Night." Anyway, I remember 
this woman turns to my brother and says, "Your brother cannot speak 
French. I wish he would speak English." That's when I wish I had 
paid more attention to my French lessons. You never know when 
something's going to come in handy. 



Milton Lichtenstein 



Riess: Who was your Uncle Milton? In Carol Wilson's book she says you 
designed houses "acceptable to your Uncle Milton." 

Gump: He was my mother's brother. 
Riess: Milton Lichtenstein? 

Gump: Well, he changed his name to Latham during the First World War 

because anybody with a German- sounding name didn't get by very well. 
He was quite a good golfer. I think I said that he didn't attend to 
his drafting and drawing, and he got jobs through my father and my 
uncle, stuff like that. Various people he was always late showing 
up and he would say, "Oh, let's go out and play golf." He was a 



32 



Gump: very good golfer. He beat everybody. He was the champion of 

California. But he never \ on the thing. One of those guys, anybody 
would say. "Oh hell, Miltie Latham, he can beat anybody." But he 
was too good a sport. 

See. what he did it's funny he would go on and probably maybe 
win two or three of his matches. You know, it's the old system of 
where you've got to beat everybody who comes along until you're 
finally in the finals, but he would get as far as maybe the semi 
finals and then he would hear of some friend of his who was doing so 
well that they'd celebrate that night. And he'd have a terrible 
hangover and he would lose the match the next day. That was his 
pattern. 


Riess: He needed a manager. 

Gump: In those days they didn't have managers of amateurs. 
Riess: How was his architecture? 

Gump: Well, he was quite good at planning. He had certain earmarks. I 
could spot one of his jobs because he used octagonal fenestration 
once in a while. I think he liked the 45-degree triangle. 

Riess: But would you say that he was an inspiration for your interest in 
architecture? 

Gump: Well, yes. The Gump's Corporation bought the corner of Jones and 
Geary. They'd already owned the York Hotel, which was the name of 
it then. And the other corner was open so they bought that, and 
they put up an apartment house they called the Hereford Court. And 
I remember he and I were trying to work out the plans of those 
floors. I said. gee. it would be good if we could get one more 
apartment in there. And we muscled around with it and it didn't 
work out. But that sort of thing, that practical experience is 
worth an awful lot. That was around 1925 or '26. 

He wasn't very much in love with money the way my father's side 
of the family was. But on the other hand, he was always glad to 
pull the sob stuff about how hard up he was, to get money from the 
people he didn't like because they had too much money. You know 
that combination? I'm sure you've bumped into it before. 



Penthouse on Powell Street. Playing the Organ 

Riess: What was the pre-fab penthouse your father got for your apartment on 
Powell Street? 



33 



Gump: A pre-fabricated house that we put on the roof. 
Riess: I've never heard of doing such a thing. 

Gump: No, it wasn't done very often. We got permission from the fire 

chief because that could be a fire hazard, and we put that up there 
so I could go up there and play the organ. I had an organ that was 
pumped. You see, in those days they didn't have electric ones. And 
because I couldn't use the footpedal the chauffeur would pump the 
thing underneath with his hands. The advantage of having an organ 
is that it can sustain notes, like these electronic things that can 
hold the notes. I have a little Casio over there that builds in the 
rhythm. On the piano the notes don't hold. 

Riess: Was the penthouse all glassed around? 

Gump: No, just a few windows. There were steps right up to the roof. I 

was on crutches then, but the chauffeur helped me get up there and I 
would sit and play, work out some long-winded harmony or something. 

I'll give you an example. Maybe I can describe this well 
enough that you could write it. Say you wrote something, and the 
melody goes [hums six notes], C-D-E, E-F-G, see. Now, if I was to 
do that on the piano I'd have to play that chord again, that C 
chord. But on the electronic keyboard I can just hold the C chord, 
or whatever I want. If you wanted to make it more interesting you 
could make it an E-minor chord and have the major seventh. I won't 
go into that detail, but you see, holding the C chord right through 
there is what you get in an orchestra. I guess that's why a piano 
isn't too good for that. The new synthesizer I have is remarkable 
for all kinds of sounds, from Martian effects to piccolo solos. You 
name it, it has it, and more. 

Plus I can hear that. I use that electronic keyboard more to 
test when I've written something. I think I told you that somebody 
said, "How can you write if you don't play?" I said, "Well, I'll 
give you a couple of answers. Did you ever hear of a guy who can 
play four horns at once?" "No." "But people write for four horns, 
don't they?" "Oh, that's right." Let's say I have a passage I can 
hear. It goes [hums a quick rhythm]. That's pretty fast. I 
couldn't play that. I can hear it. So what do I do? I break it 
down in half. It goes [hums at half the original speed]. And I 
write down how it goes. Then if it turns out to be sixteenth notes, 
or even thirty-second notes, I don't have to play it. I can hear 
it. So that's how it works. Maybe with the four horns underneath 
it, who knows? But that explains why I don't play very well. 

But the composer who revolutionized the orchestra was 
Beethoven. The amazing thing about him that people don't realize is 
that Beethoven was a fabulous pianist. You always think of Chopin 
as a great pianist. Of course, he did revolutionize piano playing. 



34 



Gump: But Beethoven was a remarkable pianist. It's amazing what he did 

with the orche: tra. using the instruments he had and they couldn't 
play too many notes in those days. 

[Added later] Now an example of a great piano composer who did 
not know orchestra well was Liszt; he had Raff do his orchestration. 
But Beethoven's piano concerts were one- half his published 
compositions and the second one-half devoted to improvisations. 
This was all before he started to lose his hearing, say between 1788 
and 1808, but in the same time he was revolutionizing the orchestra. 
Why did he put three horns in the Eroica (Third) Symphony? Because 
when he had an idea for a fake recapitulation he wanted a quick 
change to the key of F; if it were slow he could change "crooks" and 
then back to E-flat, the key of the symphony. The master decided to 
put in a third horn in F. So in the scherzo and second, third, and 
fourth movements he used all three in E-flat. Today that's nothing, 
but in his day it was considered very advanced. 

This was all done by a great pianist. That's why Brahms always 
felt Ludwig's spirit was looking over his shoulder. I think this 
helped because I don't know of a single work by Brahms that is not a 
gem in anything he wrote, from songs to symphonies and overtures. 
Talking of overtures, he was asked to write one for the opening of 
Breslau University, the "Academic Festival" Overture. He surprised 
the stuffed shirts with the use of common student-songs. He ends 
with "Gaudeamus Igatur." (To branch into my very limited Latin, 
Gaudeamus igatur Iran delenda esl)* 

Excuse another sidetrack, but Brahms also was a great pianist. 
He had some condition, some disease that affected the extension of 
his fingers [Raynaud's disease?]. He orchestrated beautifully and 
often used the instruments in an original way without piano 
influence. This is not my defense because I have lost my piano 
technique, it only has to do with the Beethoven query. [End of 
addition] 

Speaking of the limitations in instruments in Beethoven's day, 
I was talking to Lori Westin, who occupies the Richard Gump Chair in 
the Symphony. There is a passage in the Ninth Symphony and I asked 
her, "How in the world could that be played? He knew better than 
that." She said, "I think that was just at the time when they had 
one valve on the horn and were able to get that one note." If not, 
they've got to play the note by stopping with the hand, and you can 
imagine [demonstrates horn sound and hand position]. Imagine how 
some of those things soundedl If you listen to Brahms' themes on 
the horn, they're all open notes, natural horn. Beethoven, of 
course, is natural horn. 



*"Let us all celebrate, Iran is destroyed. 



35 



Riess: When you were recuperating, did you have a lot of different tutors? 

Gump: It was very disturbing. I was having a tutor to catch up because I 
was in the hospital for quite a while. And the funny thing is that 
the nurse I had was a very devout Catholic, and my tutor was a 
Christian Scientist. So, geez, I would get the Christian Science 
view about something, and then I would get the Catholic view about 
something. I became very broad-minded! They both sounded very 
logical. So I'm not for or against any religion, unless it fits the 
occasion. 






To Europe with Robert, 1924 



Riess: When you were "partially restored to health," it says in the book, 
you went to Europe, in the summer of 1924. "Partially restored" 
meant that you could walk? 

Gump: Oh, yes. No, I'll tell you what happened on that. 

Riess: Well, tell about the whole trip, and how that was planned. 

Gump: My brother and I decided we didn't want to go all over Europe so we 
decided we would concentrate on London and Paris, period. Paris 
particularly because the Olympic Games were there in 1924, and 
England because we took two cathedral trips, one to the northeast 
and then one to the west. 

Riess: Did your parents tell you where you should go? 

Gump: Well, I'll tell you. On the English trip it was very interesting. 
My mother's stepmother had a brother-in-law who married her sister 
who was English. He was Scottish. He was wonderful, he would take 
us around London and say [imitating Scottish brogue], "You see this 
little place here?" "Yes." He said, "You see this iron post here?" 
"Yes, I see it." "Well, that's where such-and-such a famous highway 
man who escaped from the police went through this alley." Very 
adventurous things like that, interesting, weren't in any guidebooks. 
And he said, "Be sure and go to Ely's cathedral." And he said, 
"You've got to go to Lincoln," which incidentally has become my 
favorite of all the churches, of all the shrines. It is my favorite 
in England, still. That and Chartres are the two greatest, to me. 
I don't know Cologne very well, but I know that Cologne was finally 
finished in the nineteenth century, so it's not so pure. 

Well, I was nuts about that stuff. I read quite a few books as 
I was interested in those days, and I really enjoyed it. I don't 
know how I climbed up those steps when I had just gotten out of 
shooting myself two years earlier. 



36 



Riess: Your orientation was to great buildings when you went there. That 
was what you were drawn t"? 



Gump: Yes, I drew Gothic windows and stuff like that. 
Riess: What was Robert interested in? 






Gump: Oh, for instance, we went to where the great Bard was buried, you 
know: "damned be he who moves his bones," a guy named Willie 
Shakespeare. He [Robert] went there with great reverence. At that 
time he was studying playwriting in the great [George Pierce] 
Baker's 47 workshop in Harvard. [Eugene] O'Neill had worked there, 
studied there, and he was fairly successful 1 

fi 

Gump: We went outside after the services were over, and there were kids 
playing leapfrog over the gravestones right in front of the church 
where Shakespeare is buried, in Stratford. His father was a sort of 
town glover; he made gloves. It just made me think. 



History. Richard Gump's Way 



Gump: You asked me about interests, and I'll tell you something 

interesting about my interests. I went to see the famous place that 
Madame Butterfly's story was written about, Nagasaki. I go up 
there, and I learn that the true story about that is not that at 
all; it's just the reverse. This Japanese woman had this French 
officer under her thumb. She demanded, "Give me more money," each 
time his boat would put in there, or she would write home to his 
family in Paris. So she kept shaking down the officer, just the 
reverse of Puccini's opera. I've forgotten who wrote the story. I 
think Boito might have written the libretto. We'd better look that 
up. [Text by Giacosa and Illica, after David Belasco's drama of 
1900 on the story by John Luther Long] 

But getting back to this what made me think of it there was a 
man by the name of Glover (Shakespeare's father made me think of 
that), and he was a remarkable guy. He was something like twenty- 
eight years old, and he went over and convinced the Meij i, the 
Imperial Family, not the samurais, to put in some railroads. This 
young man of twenty-eight I And he lived out there in that place 
where Madame Chrysanthemum, which is what her name actually was, 
lived. I was so fascinated by this story, and nobody's ever touched 
it, about this young guy, a Scotsman, who was very interested in 
putting in railways at the time. And it was through his influence 



37 

Gimp: that the Meiji came back to reign. They got rid of the Tokugawa 

Shogunate, the family that was the last ruling samurai. At twenty- 
eight he practically put the crowned head back on the throne. 

Riess: You have quite a way of absorbing history! 

Gump: Well, that's what I'm trying to say. You ask me my interests, 

that's how I have these interests. I go into a place like that and 
I picture the period and what was happening, and I find it 
fascinating. Anybody has an interest in things that fascinate them. 
And that's why I have such a broad view; not a broad knowledge, my 
knowledge is half-baked, but a broad view. I think that's the 
reason, I just picture the period. 

For instance, just recently I decided I wanted to be able to 
date costumes so I have a few costume books around. Well, people 
say, "Who is that guy? Is he going to dress in drag or something? 
I didn't know he was 'that way'." But no, the reason I get the 
costume books is to be able to identify paintings, and particularly 
portraits. I can do it within ten or twenty years, easily. 

And another way of dating see that big music book over there? 
I know that that can't be earlier than around 1500, 1480 because 
it's got five lines, and they had four lines. But there are two 
different books, it's got a separation of 150 years, so I don't knew 
which is right and which is wrong. 

I was looking at costumes the other day and I found that men's 
shoes I don't know about women, they didn't show their tootsies very 
much in those days men's shoes, just about that period that music 
developed five lines, they eliminated the pointed shoes for men. 
And they became sort of stubbed. Think of a portrait of Henry 
VIII well, that was the early 16th century. But I think probably 
the greatest development in the history of man, proportionate to 
what came before him, is around 1500 all the discoveries in science 
and all kinds of things, around 1500. In music, as I say, the way 
they delineated music, how they decided this is the way to do it 
the only people who could have decided is the Church. 

And for instance, talking about the Church, I'll give you a 
story. I have nothing against the Church. "Some of my best friends 
are Catholics!" says he, a semi-devout Jew. [chuckles] Did I tell 
you about the Battle of Poitiers that Charles Martel won? 



Riess : No. 

Gump: He became the great hero and set up the crown of France. That 

battle was 734. (I may be off two years, but that doesn't matter.) 
The reason he won is because the Arabs, who were well established in 
Spain, there was a sort of revolt in North Africa that weakened the 
Arab army. You know who caused this revolt? 



38 



Riess: No. 

Gump: These Shiites. who are causing a lot of the trouble in the Near East 
right now. The Shiites had a sort of uprising in North Africa, and 
it weakened this army. And you see what would have happened? If 
they had won that we would have had the culture that the Jews and 
the Arabs had that only was known by the Church. But just think of 
how it set it back 700 years, because the Shiites weakened the army 
so that Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers and afterwards at 
the Battle of Tours drove the Arabs out of that part of Europe. 
They stayed back in Spain until 1492. And that's another date 
that's amazing, because when Columbus discovered America was the 
same date that the last Arabs, with their advanced science, were 
kicked out of Spain. 

Riess: You really do have such a personal grip on history, and a way of 
putting things together for yourself. 

Gump: Well, whatever I say, I hope it's interesting to the reader. 

Riess: It's interesting because anyone who looks at life like that gets an 
enormous amount of pleasure out of everything; all information is 
grist for the mill. 

Gump: Oh, that's true. Well, a few things might bore me, like bridge! 
Riess: When you were over there in 1924 did you sketch and keep journals? 
Gump: I don't remember. I may have done a few sketches. 

Riess: Would you say that a lot of your taste and discriminating view of 
things was formed on that trip? 

Gump: Oh no, not just the one trip. I was fascinated by architecture 

before that. It was like somebody who had never heard a symphony, 
and had the opportunity to hear a symphony for the first time in his 
life. You know what a thrill it would be. It's the same thing as 
going to a great cathedral. You look at it in pictures but it 
doesn't have the overpowering effect that the building itself would 
have, no matter how good the photographs or sketches were. 



Parents' Divorce 

Riess: When you came back after that summer was when you entered Stanford? 

Gump: Yes. 

r 

Riess: Was your parents' separation a kind of relief for you? 



39 



Gump: Yes. I think it was. But there was a big contrast, because as you 
know I lived with my father for a while. 

Riess: She announced by mail that she was leaving him? 

Gump: Yes. I think my brother read the letter that she wrote to my father 
and he told me that it was pretty oh. he [my father] was up at 
Crater Lake and he wanted to jump in the lake. And my brother said, 
"At least sleep on it." I remember my brother told me that. It was 
terrible; he was so upset, naturally. 

My father didn't realize what he was doing. I mean, in a way 
his attitude toward people and things I hate to use the term but mayl 
I should he was sort of high-handed. I remember some very prominent 
local people would come in the store and he'd have gotten something 
new from the Orient. Let's say it was Mrs. Pope. So he would say, 
"Oh, Mrs. Pope, come in." Well, soon it got so that Mrs. Pope would 
see him and hide in back of a booth or something so that he didn't 
bother her. Probably it was something she would like and probably 
would buy eventually, but doing that he very often annoyed people. 

Although on the other hand 1 guess his batting average was 
pretty high because he would get somebody like I remember Mr. 
[Eugene] Grace who was head of Bethlehem Steel happened to walk in 
there. My father just had a hunch that if he talked to this man who 
was with somebody else he said. "Are you Mr. Grace?" He said. 
"Yes." He said, "Oh. how do you do? I'm Gump." And then he 
started talking to him, and I think he got Grace interested in 
Oriental art. So it has its value and it has its losses. 

Riess: Yes. But the high-handedness? 

Gump: I think it was impatience. It's a silly thing to say, but it's very 
much like Beethoven who was high-handed and impatient and everything 
with everybody. And it was the same thing with my father because of 
his affliction. 

My mother, who was a marvelous reader I was brought up 
listening to her read and I remember listening to the whole Forsyte 
Saga she read to my father every evening. I remember that. I 
would pretend I was working on schoolwork but I was listening to her 
read. And she was great, she could do all the dialects, without 
being affected, you know. 

So when this [divorce] happened he felt terribly put out. But 
he hadn't realized how valuable her company was. He kept moaning 
about her always going to the Little Theater and acting and all that 
stuff. Well, I can see where I might moan, too. But she would tell 
me, ''Oh, he was so wonderful when we first got married," and all 
that. And she decided to go her way. and he decided to go his. And 
suddenly she decided she couldn't take it any longer, and sent him a 



40 



Gump: letter. Naturally it shocked him. She had never said, "If you're 

going to keep behaving that way, we'll have to separate." She never 
said that to him, that I know of. So naturally it was a shocker. 

Riess: So while you were working at the store after Stanford you were 
living with your father at the Palace Hotel? 

Gump: That's right, yes. 

Riess: You had too much of your father then. 

Gump: Yes, he was pretty tough to me. But it made me pretty tough, too. 
I think it broke my brother, but it didn't break me. I was a 
different kind of horse. 















41 






II "FOUNDED IN 1861" 



Coming Into the Business 

Riess: Was your father disappointed about your leaving Stanford? 

Gump: He never said anything. I think I said. "If I stay around the 

store, chances are you'll send me to Europe or someplace to learn 
buying and buying abroad. In the meantime, I'm learning about the 
merchandise here." So that's exactly what happened. I got terrific 
knowledge there. I knew stuff better than a lot of so-called 
experts from museums because I knew who made the fakes. Most of 
those guys don't know who makes them. 

Riess: Was he trying to give you an education so that you would have been 
"above" the store? 

Gump: Mother did more that way. You see. I didn't know when I look back 
on it and think of studying to be an architect I wasn't going to be 
an architect and the head of Gump's. That's a peculiar combination, 
But it worked out that I was just enough of each enough of a 
businessman and enough of a designer that I could use both. 

Riess: That idea of "being the head of Gump's" when was that stated in so 
many words? 

Gump: Oh, I'll tell you this is interesting I think it was one of the 
Schlesingers who was head of the Emporium who came to dinner at my 
father's, he and his wife, as I remember. I've forgotten the 
fellow's name Joe or Charlie, whatever it was. And my father said 
to this fellow, "I want you to meet the future president and vice- 
president of Gump's." And my brother and I were saying, "Well, who 
does he mean? Who's got the big job?" It didn't build up a rivalry 
between my brother and me, but we wondered who would be president 
and who would be vice-president. Of course, we figured by age my 
brother would be president. 



42 



Gump: My father's older brother never was president. When my grandfather, 
his father, had a heart attack, my father used some little scheme 
he should have been in politics, he was a schemer I think Alfred, 
his brother, was away in Europe buying. And Dad had a stockholder's 
meeting and had himself voted president. Although he and Alfred got 
along very well. The reason he bought my uncle out was because my 
uncle wanted to put in a fellow who had married his daughter. He 
wanted to put him in the store and give him a big position. But it 
turned out the guy wasn't the most honest guy in the world. 

My Uncle Alfred said, "Buy or sell," and my father said, "I'll 
buy." And that's how we bought him out. And the worst of it was he 
bought him out at the top, just before the Crash. So he had this 
terrible debt all his life. On top of that, my brother and my 
sister and a young girl he befriended spent money like crazy. 
And he never stopped them. They would kick and scream and then he 
would have to kick through more dough. Finally when he was gone and 
I was in charge they could kick and scream all they wanted, they 
would get nothing, because I knew it wasn't doing them any good, it 
was just spoiling them. 

Riess: But the idea that you and your brother were the future president and 
vice-president was this a sort of game-playing? 

Gump: No, no, I just remember that particular incident. We never thought 
of who was going to be president. In fact, when I went into the 
store my brother had quit Harvard and the two of us were sitting 
down trying to figure out a way of working on invoices together, 
something like that. Our theory didn't work. With an IBM machine 
which we had later it probably would work very well. I remember our 
working together on a problem trying to figure out a formula for 
something, trying to figure out a short-cut to save some dough or 
time. 

Riess: Was this oppressive, the idea that your future was there, cut out 
for you? 

Gump: No, it wasn't. Maybe for my brother he would be out, wouldn't come 
home or something, or would have a hangover, something I don't 
know. I'm not trying to degrade him. He did enough of that for 
himself. He tried to be my father, you see, the big salesman. But 
he didn't have it. 

I'll never forget, we had a marvelous Thai head, the best one 
we had in that big collection. And we had it in the gallery there in 
a certain niche. A fellow came in, somebody who said, "I'm very 
interested in that head." And I said, "Wonderful." I decided to 
talk to him and it turned out it was Sidney Coe Howard, the 
playwright. He bought this head I got to know him later, when I 



43 



Gump : 



lived in Hollywood, not well and I remember telling my father, 
"Well. I sold that head for $6,000." "Wonderful! I guess you have 
a. future." That was big to him, you see, the salesman stuff. 

But I didn't do any selling. For Sidney Coe Howard this was 
the type of thing where he decided that he couldn't live unless he 
could get a certain object, work of art. And he said, "That's the 



Riess: 



way I feel about this head. I have to have it." 
selling at all. It was just writing up the tag. 



So there was no 
He was a very nice 



fellow. You know, he wrote that wonderful play, "They Knew What 
They Wanted." It was all about the Napa Valley. Charles Laughton 
did it; it was wonderful. 

When you began your apprenticeship at the store, was that a 
structured training? 



Gump's Window Display 



Gump: I remember my Uncle Alfred who was vice-president at the time, in 

1925, he asked me to lay out something in the back of the windows on 
Post Street, to make a drawing. I remember I sweated away doing an 
accurate architectural drawing. But it turned out that it wasn't 
too accurate, so Mr. [Gustave] Liljestrom who had done a lot in 
fact, he designed the Jade Room, I think you will probably see that 
in the book he got me out of the problem by straightening out a few 
dimensions that were wrong. 

First my uncle had said, "Well, go down in the basement and ask 
Joe Kennedy for a job." I went down there to see Joe Kennedy, the 
head of the basement. I said, "Have you got some work here?" And 
he said, "No, we haven't got any work today, young man." So I just 
left. When I saw my uncle he said, "Well, did you get it?" I said, 
"No, he has no place for me." Later on when he found out I'm the 
son of the boss Joe said he almost died because I became his boss 
eventually, years later but he told me, he said he almost died when 
he found out I was the son of the boss, because I didn't say so. He 
was just saying, "Well no, there's no work here." It wasn't whether 
he liked me or not, you know. It was funny. 

So I went back upstairs, and after that's when I did the 
window. My uncle said, "Well, you like to draw and design. You'd 
better do the back of these windows. " 

Riess: Were Gump's windows already important? 

Gump: They were for those days they used to do great big windows with 
interiors of rooms and all that stuff. Some of them were pretty 



4A 



Gump: busy. Looked at today they'd seem crazy, but in those days they 
were wonderful. I changed that whole thing. I'm responsible for 
the Gump's windows.* 

Riess: But even before you came, did they have a certain special ? 

Gump: Yes, there was a flair that other people didn't have. All kinds of 
people made it a point to see our windows. [Added later] I did 
make a valuable contribution to the commercial display world, that 
is, the change of display window design. That came about because 
Bill Brewer who worked with me said he had had a conversation with a 
guy with "most imaginative ideas." 1 met this friend, Don Smith, 
and his views stimulated me, and so I gave Don a chance on the next 
window to be done. 

There were two problems which I as boss had to settle. First, 
most department heads decided on the ultimate for his window, and 
second, Don's ideas were so revolutionary the department heads just 
could not take it. I persisted, and though everyone thought me 
nuts, they just had to stop moaning. In my lectures I called the 
old display system the "super-market apple pyramid school." Don's 
theory was all show windows were designed from the ground up and his 
idea was the windows are three-dimensional spaces and the 
merchandise to be sold should become part of the design. Let's say 
we wish to show a dinnerware pattern. We would show the five-piece 
set up on the floor, but the various serving pieces, soup tureens, 
platters and anything else might be dangling all over that space, 
hidden by invisible wires, to attract attention. Many was the 
department head crying his eyes out on looking at his precious 
wares. But the expression soon changed when they found this 
"whacky" display did better than the old two-dimensional, ground up 
methods of the past. I also made a strict rule that once the 3-D 
design was done, no toucheel [End of addition] 






*Gump's Display Directors prior to 1944 were "Mac" McDougall, 
Oriental windows, and Jerry Sax, European windows. Under Richard 
Gump it became one job. The first display director was Don Smith, 
1944 to 1946. Herb Raynaud was Display and Publicity Manager, May 
1946 to August 1953; Leo Kenny, August 1953 to Spring 1958; Al Proom 
Spring 1958 to June 1961. James Stearns was Display Director June 
1961 to May 1963 and he returned as Assistant Display Director in 
May 1980. Robert J. Mahoney, Display Director, June 1963 to the 
present, 1988. 



From By Motor to the Golden Gate, by Emily Post, 
D. Appleton & Co. , 1916 



la San Francisco we rushed early each morning 
to the Exposition and spent no time anywhere else. 
Every now and then someone said to Pauline, with 
whom we were stopping, the mysterious sentence: 
"Have you taken them to Gump 'at" And her 
answer: "Why no, I haven't!" was always ut 
tered in that abashed apologetic tone that acknowl 
edges a culpable forgetfulness. Finally one day 
instead of driving out towards the Exposition 
grounds wo turned towards the heart of the city. 
"Where are we going."' I asked. 
"To Gump's!" triumphantly. 
"To Gump'sf Of all the queer sounding things, 
what is to Gump'sf" 

"Our most celebrated shop. You really must 
not leave Sail Francisco without seeing their Japa 
nese and Chinese things." 

Shades of dullness, thought I, as if there were 
not shops enough in New York! As for Oriental 
treasures, I was sure there were more on Fifth 
Avenue at home than there are left in Asia. But 
Pauline being determined, there was nothing for 
us to do but, as E.M. said, "to Gump it!" 

Feeling very much bored at being kept away 
from the Exposition, I entorod a store reminiscent 
of a dozen in New York, walked down an aisle 
lined on cither side with commonplace chinaware. 
My first sensation of boredom was changing to ir 
ritability. Then we entered an elevator and in tho 
next instant I took back everything I had been 
thinking. It was as though we had been trans 
ported, not only across the Pacific, but across cen 
turies of time. Through the apartments of an 
ancient Chinese palace, we walked into a Japanese 
temple, and again into a room in a modern Japa 
nese house. You do not need more than a first 
glance to appreciate why they lead visitors to a 
shop with the unpromising name of Gump. I am 
not sure that the name docs not heighten the effect. 
If it were called the Chinese Palace, or the Temple 
of Japan, or something like that, it would be like 
telling the answer before asking the conundrum. 
As in calling at a palace, too, strangers, distin 
guished ones only, are asked to write their names 
in the visitor's book. 

In this museum-shop each room has been assem 
bled as a setting for the things that are shown in 
it. Old Chinese porcelains, blue and white, sang 
de boeuf, white, apple-green, cucumber-green and 
peacock-blue, are shown in a room of the Ming 
Period in ebony and gold lacquer. 

The windows of all the rooms, whether in the 
walls or ceiling, are of translucent porcelain in 
the Chinese, or paper in the Japanese; which pro 
duces an indescribable illusion of having left the 
streets of San Francisco thousands of miles, in 
stead of merely a few feet, behind you. 



The room devoted to jades and primitives has 
night-blue walls overlaid with gold lacquer lat 
tices and brass carvings and in it the most won 
derful treasures of all They are kept hidden 
away in silk-lined boxes, and are brought out and 
shown to you, Chinese fashion, one at a time, so 
that none shall detract from the other. We wanted 
to steal a small white marble statuette of a boy 
on a horse. A thing of beauty and spirit very 
Greek, yet pure Chinese that dated back to the 
oldest Tang Dynasty! There was also a silver, 
that was originally green, luster bronze of the 
Ham Period, two thousand years old, and a sacri 
ficial bronze pot belonging to the Chow Dynasty, 
B.C. 1125. The patina, or green rust of age, on 
these two pieces was especially beautiful. I also 
much admired a carved rhinoceros horn, but found 
it was merely Chicn Lung, one hundred and fifty 
years old, which in that room was much too inod'- 
ern to be important. 

In one of the Japanese rooms there wore doc- 
orated paper walls held up by light b.-unboo 
frames, amber paper shoji instead of windows, 
and the floors covered with tatami, the Japanese 
fioor mats, two inches thick. You sit on the floor 
as in Japan and drink tea, while silks of every 
variety are brought to you. 

We saw three rugs of the Ming Dynasty that 
are probably the oldest rugs extant. The most 
lovely one was of yellow ground, with Ho birds 
in blue. And there was an ice-cooler of cloisonne, 
Ming Period. They brought the ice from the 
mountains and cooled the imperial palace years 
ago. Yet to hear Europeans talk, you'd almost be 
led to believe that ice is an American invention. 
We were shown old Chinese velvet wedding- 
skirts and a tapestry of blues, with silver storks 
and clouds of an embroidery so fine that its 
stitches could be seen only through a magnifying 
glass, and poison plates belonging to the Emperor 
Ming that were supposed to change color if any 
food injurious to His Majesty were served on 
them. 

One of tho most beautiful thinjrs was a Cara- 
mandel screen of the Kang Hai Period, in a cor 
ridor that it shared only with an enormous lacquer 
image of the Buddha. 

We were told that a rather famous collector 
went out to see the Fair. On his first day In San 
Francisco he was stopping at the St. Francis 
Hotel which is only a stone's throw across the 
square he went idly into this most alluring of 
shops and became so interested he stayed all day. 
The next day he did the same, and the third morn 
ing found him there again. Finally he said with 
a sigh: "Having come to see the Exposition, I 
must go out there this afternoon and look at it, 
as I have to go back to >> r ew York tomorrow." 

I don't know that this is an average point of 
view, but it is a fact that was vouched for, and 
also that his check to the detaining shop ran into 
very high figures. 



45 

Oriental and European Division 



Gump: You see, the store was terribly divided. (It ended up divided, 
which was bad. Now it's better.) But there was this sort of a 
division between the Orient and the Occident. (I said, "Well, as 
far as I'm concerned, I like the Orient. But I don't know if it's 
occidental or on purpose." [chuckles] A wonderful play on words.) 
But my uncle was Europe, and my father was the Orient. They had 
these divisions. My brother was interested in the Oriental section. 

When I finally got in there I said, 'KJifts are gifts. Why do 
we have to have Oriental Gifts and European Gifts, whatever you want 
to call them, American Gifts, Occidental Gifts?" But then also from 
the point of view of our reputation because of the Jade Room and all 
that glamour we had . Did you ever see that book, J3y_ Motor _to the 
Golden West, by Emily Post?* 

Riess : No. 

Gump: I'll show it to you. It was very important as far as our history 
goes. 

But getting back to this division sometimes it made sense. 
You see, people would go into the Jade Room and say, "Oh, this is 
Oriental. I don't know much about Oriental." And then by the time 
my father would get hold of them they'd started an Oriental 
collection. 



Reproductions** 



Gump: But a lot of times it didn't make sense. Because, for instance, I 
could get things made in Japan that might be European in design. 

I'll give you an idea I had in fact I told Judy Wilbur who is 
president of the Asian Art Museum about it. I can get Sung pottery 
done very cheaply down in southern Italy because the base they use 
is exactly the same as the Sung, and they're overpainting with 
permanganate to get that deep brown-black that they have in the Sung 
pottery. And they can do it very easily. 



*See Appendices. 

**See further discussion p. 105. 



46 



Gump: I had often thought of doing that. I said, "I can get them done 

cheap." She said, "Well, that would be wonderful. We can put a few 
of those in the shop there [in the Asian Art Museum] and say it's 
from our collection, copies." The idea of having them done in Italy 
sounds impossible. And it's just the reverse. 

The Nymphenburg porcelain, are you acquainted with it? They 
had figures that were very delicate. When Martin Rosenblatt and I 
went to Hong Kong, the first time we went to the Orient, in 1953, I 
was looking at some figures and he said, "Oh, those are made in 
China. We can't get those." And then a fellow in the office of 
Deacon and Company he became head of the office he said [imitating 
English accent], "This is a sort of porcelain that is being made in 
the New Territories, not in the town itself. But if you'd like to 
see it, I can send one of my men with you." So I went out to look 
at this stuff. It was the stuff that said, "Made in China." It was 
made in China, it was made right in the New Territories and it was 
perfectly legal to bring it in. The thing I'm getting at is that 
you could take that "Made in Hong Kong" and make a perfect copy. 

fi 

Gump: Getting back to the creative stuff I remember when I was there in 
1930 this French prudential, as somebody called it they wanted 
something in French prudential. [laughter] 

Riess: Somebody actually said that? 

Gump: Oh yes, sure. And also they asked for Chickendale. Oh, there are a 
lot of those things. 

But in those days I could buy cerisier or fruitwood cerisier 
being the cherry tree I could buy simple tables and things of that 
kind and I found a guy in Paris who could carve them. So they were 
pretty authentic; they were old, but the carving was new. I would 
sketch with chalk exactly what design I would want. The original 
chairs were so simple they wouldn't sell. They'd probably sell 
today, but that was 1930, so I just made them a little better more 
marketable. 

But there was a creative thing I did. I got antiques and made 
them more valuable. And it wan't cheating anybody. They would ask, 
"Is that old?" "Yes, it's old." but if they would say. "Is that 
carving old?" "No, it's not old." But nobody would ever think to 
ask is the carving old. 

I'll show you the Spanish chairs. I have six of them you 
know, those arm chairs? 

Riess: Yes. 



47 

Gump: In Italy they get those and they carve the stretcher across the bottom. 
I wouldn't do that. I would leave that exactly as it was. I could 
have it done very easily by very good carvers in Florence and bring 
the value up three times, just carving the stretcher in the bottom. 
But I would rather have them pure and pristine the way they were. 



Creativity and Change 



Riess: Did you go through all the various store departments in an 
apprenticeship? 

Gump: Yes. if somebody there knew the styles. Mr. [Henry Judson] Allen, 
who did all the European design of the Interior Design Department, 
was marvelous. He would sit down and do his sketches and I used to 
watch. He did a drawing, I remember one time, of an ideal house as 
he thought. And I remember I made a scale drawing of a house, too. 
(I may be able to find one of the drawings I did, around 1926.) And 
he looked at mine and said, "Oh, this is wonderful." Of course, he 
was sort of a mentor. He was a designer and a very charming guy, a 
wonderful person. He had wonderful morale in his department. He 
was very creative. 

A lot of creative people are fussy and introverted. But that's 
not necessary. In fact they say, "He's that way, he's artistic." 
That's a lot of bunk. The most artistic people I know are happy, 
good-natured and not necessarily introverted. I've seen businessmen 
terrible that way. They can't even express themselves. They sit in 
a big office with a big desk to defend themselves. 

Riess: Yes. That's a good point. 

Gump: I'll never forget the story about when I went into Macmillan the 

first time, in the big office of Ray Hagel, who was chairman of the 
board of Macmillan. I went in there because Eleanor Friede, the 
widow of Donald Friede he got me to do the book on Good Taste Costs 
_No More she said, "I wish you would go and see Ray Hagel. I 
understand you might be selling the store." I said, "I didn't say I 
was going to sell the store. I didn't want to say that." "Well, 
you should meet Ray." 

So anyway, I walk in this office she was there waiting for 
me and I said, "Oh, I don't know if you know the magazine, New 
York not New Yorker, but New York." And the three of them had a 
big laugh. I said, "What's so funny?" They said, 'Veil, he's the 
publisher. He built the magazine." It was Armand G. Erpf. He made 
it, and here I'm talking about what a good magazine it is. [Armand 
Erpf was chairman of New York Magazine and a member of the executive 



Gump: committee of Crowell, Collier and Macmillan, Inc. which bought 

Gump's April 30, 1969. They changed their name January 1, 1973 to 
Macmillan, Inc.] 

Well, anyway, we're sitting in these four chairs, the way we 
are here, as equals. These things are part of protocol. It's 
almost like the middle ages, where you were on the dias or "below the 
salt." When the board came, then I became one of his hirelings, you 
see. He goes in back of his desk at the other end of the room and 
I'm at this end. He's got his wall up. I can tell Ray that because 
he's a very intelligent guy. He would get an awful laugh out of it 
if I were to tell him. In fact, I think I told his vice-president, 
Mcllhenny, that. 

Talking of Mcllhenny, let me tell you this story. I asked, 
"Why don't you use our logo anymore?" They changed the logo, you 
see, of Gump's, took off the date, "founded in 1861." He said, 
"Well, that's not done anymore." So I looked at the tabasco 
bottle because his family, the Mcllhennys, invented tabasco sauce 
and I remember in a phone conversation I said, "What the hell are 
you talking about? You've got it right on your family heirloom 
tabasco sauce, 'founded in 1868.' How can you say "They're not 
doing that anymore? 1 It's the same in your family, so don't tell me 
they're not saying when the thing was founded. It's very valuable." 
Fortunately Bob Leitstein, the president now, he used it right away, 
he jumped at it. And also he went back to our old logo. 

Riess: What is the old logo? 

Gump: Well, I can show it to you. I've got one around here. The guy who 
took over wanted to make a change and so he used serifs. Actually 
you couldn't recognize our ads in the paper because he took out the 
old logo. 

Riess: Oh, so you're talking about the typeface that was used. 

Gump: Yes, on Gump's. I'll show you an early one. When you see the logo 
you'll recognize it. 

Riess: How far back does that particular typeface date? 
Gump: Oh, I don't know. It evolved. 



Salesmen and Buyers 



Riess: Most of your apprenticeship then was in the design end, rather than 
in the selling 3nd? 



49 



Gump: No, I wasn't selling. I was buying merchandise and seeing how it 
sold. Promotion is mass selling. 

Riess: You told how Sidney Coe Howard made his purchase, but were you ever 
sent out to the floor to sell? 

Gump: Oh yes, my father said, "Get down on the floor and sell." I said, 

"Okay, I'll lie down on the floor. But I can't sell from here." He 
said, "Get up, don't be silly." Of course, he would probably go 
away and laugh, because he had a good sense of humor. 

Riess: Who were the most famous, fabulous salesmen, other than your father? 
Was there someone that you were supposed to learn from? 

Gump: No, not particularly. But my father did tell me something. He 

said, "Always give them a story." And I found out when I studied 
public speaking what he meant by "Always give them a story." You 
don't say, "It's 263,000 miles to the moon." That doesn't mean 
anything. The average person can't imagine 263,000 miles. So you 
say, "If you got on a 747 going at 500 miles an hour, it would take 
you so long to get there." Then it's more of a vivid picture. And 
they told us always to give pictures like that, never big numbers. 

Riess: Yes. That's a good point. Were the salesmen at that time actually 
trained by anyone? 

Gump: No. It was a matter of luck. 

Riess: How did your father pick his salesmen then? 

Gump: He didn't. He just listened to them. 

There was one woman there I won't say who she was she made up 
stories about the Oriental stuff. The most impossible, crazy 
stories I ever heard. I said, "What? She said that?" "Yes." Gee. 
you could never tell what she was going to say about something. She 
should have written a new Arabian Nights. 

Riess: Who was Stanley Corcoran? 

Gump: Oh, he started as a kid in the basement. I remember I was drinking 
quite a bit as a person would in his early twenties living in 
Europe, at twenty-one or twenty-two, around there. He said that as 
a young man he used to drink his lunch, he could hardly keep himself 
up in the stock aisles. And one time he decided, he said, "I can't 
keep this up, I'll die." And he quit. He quit for years and years. 
When he told me about it he was never a guy to say, "Geez, you 
ought to be ashamed of yourself." He just said, *^uit." I thought 
he was a great guy. Later on he thought I had cut him. I hadn't 
cut him at all. I thought he was wonderful. He had a marvelous 



50 



Gump: personality. In all the countries we went to in Europe, everybody 
loved the guy. He had a wonderful Irish personality. He wasn't 
from an ignorant Irish family. His father was a veterinarian for 
the U.S. Army, for the Cavalry horses. 

Riess; You went on a buying trip with him then? 

Gump: No, I was there. He picked me up and he said, "I'm going to 

Belgium. Do you want to go with me?" I said, "Sure, I'd love to." 

Riess: You were a European buyer for the store from 1927 to 1930? 
Gump: I wasn't the only buyer. 

Riess: There was some reference to buying for the nouveau riche. Was this 
your view of who Gump' s was serving, the nouveau riche? 

Gump: Well, it wasn't necessarily the nouveau riche, but I was talking to 
somebody, for instance, who said they would like to open up their 
business in Texas. I said, "Why?" and he said, "There's a lot of 
new money there. " 

Riess: And that's the way San Francisco was in the late twenties. There 
was a lot of new money and people flocking to Gump's? 

Gump: Quite a lot, yes. Not as much as see, the circulation of people is 
so much greater now with the airplane. The "big ticket" items sold 
in January and February then. Today you don't have that. The 
reason is that very often the wealthiest guys in the country would 
take a private car and go to San Francisco and then to L.A. or 
whatever, you see. And that's when the very wealthy people would go 
west. They don't now, they go at all times. 

In those days we had our big sales in January and February. 
It's not that way now. In fact, our January sales would be equal 
then, almost, to December. That sounds impossible. December is the 
gift period, naturally, with Christmas. I wouldn't say it was 
exactly the same. But now January would be one-fifth of December, 
or maybe even less. In those days it might be close to the same, 
depending on any big sales. And that pattern changed completely 
because of planes. 



51 



III FINDING AN IDENTITY 



Art Deco Pioneer 



Gump: I really pioneered what they call "Art Deco" today. I did the first 
design in San Francisco. My brother was in partnership with some 
guys we knew in school and they went into the restaurant business, a 
place called The Clock. It was right near the Call-Bulletin 
building, a block down from the Palace Hotel. Then they decided to 
move up to this other place, and to make a long story as short as 
possible, the thing flopped. But the design of that place I looked 
at a book of illustration called "Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, " 
or something like that. It came out in 1925 and '26 when they had 
this big show in Paris. That's when they started what we call now 
"Art Deco." They didn't have that term then. 

And so I thought I would design some of that. I don't think I 
could find any of it, but I actually did design that stuff. And I 
did invent something that was never done before, and it's all over 
now. That was, at the counters they always had stools, you know, 
the round stools. I said, "Well, why can't we remove those stools. 
We'll take those bases and then get those chairs that are cheap, and 
put the chair backs on top." So instead of stools, we had backs on 
them. And I invented that. 

The same as I invented the chrome letters on our truck. That 
was done in 1932, I remember. The chrome letters I did with Ben 
Davis, who was working with us. He's still alive; I see him every 
once in a while. He was a designer for the Interior Design 
Department. He was a graduate of architecture from the University 
of Washington. 

Riess: So you would say that you were putting your imprint on the store in 
terms of design. You don't think that the art works that you were 
bringing back from Europe were ? 



52 



Gump: Well, yes, I brought back I remember Stanley said, "Let's try this. 
It used to go very well at the turn of the century." You know what 
it was? I wish I had a load of that now: Gallfe glass. The price 
it would bring now! They don't make it anymore. 



Nights in the Art Gallery 

Riess: Did you buy early Picassos and Matisses in Paris? 

Gump: I did better than that I had one of the best shows in San Francisco 
when I was running Gump's Gallery. 1 had Renoir, Cezanne, two or 
three Segonzacs. I wasn't necessarily going into that period, but I 
was studying that same sort of painting and drawing in art school in 
the evening. I didn't tell you the greatest story of all. 

Riess: No, we haven't mentioned you in art school I 

Gump: Well, I'm getting on that now. It's right in that field. As I was 
studying there I also arranged to get out of New York a show for our 
gallery, which was quite large and octagonal, of Fouj ita drawings, 
nude drawings. I got that whole show and I had it in San Francisco. 
We sold a couple of them and brought a lot of traffic in. So what 
happened was I said to the kids I was in the art school with I did 
life drawing in the evening three times a week I said, "I'll tell 
you, let's next week get Sadie" the model that we used "and we'll 
get her to pose in the gallery and then we'll do drawings of her in 
the style of Fouj ita." 

So I cooked that up, see. It was wonderful. Here's this girl 
lying naked in the middle of the gallery and the night watchman 
comes out and almost falls over. "What's going on here?!" I had to 
explain to him. You can imagine what a shock that was. Here's this 
reserved, very quiet place. It's about 9:00 in the evening, and he 
walks in and there's a girl lying naked in the middle of the great 
big room. But we didn't do it to shock him, we did it more to get 
the style of Fouj ita, which I learned. 

As a matter of fact this is something interesting. I remember 
telling them at the art school, "Why don't we, every Friday when we 
do the quick sketches, go through the history of art?" Like when I 
went through the history of music I wrote music the way they did in 
the various periods. For instance, one night we'd have Du'rer 
drawings around, something like that. Another night we would have 
Boucher. Just the reproductions. It could be at the art school. 
And then we would draw the model like that. Just to go through the 
history of art. 



53 

Gump: And then you would finally end up with the distortions and stuff 

that we arrived a', today, and you would know what they came out of. 
The same as Picasso who did these wonderful drawings. In fact for 
my lectures, one lecture I showed two drawings at once. And I said. 
"Now look isn't that nice?" "Oh, yes. it's beautiful." And then I 
said, "Well, the other one is a crazy-looking thing. It's by the 
same artist." "What?" "Yes, they're both by Picasso." One of them 
was a very literal and early thing, and the second one is not a 
distorted face, which he started to do around 19 40- some thing, in the 
late forties, I think, when he did these double-face things. No it 
was an earlier period. 

Riess: Well, he actually did some copies of early works. 
Gump: Oh, he did the same thing. Sure, he went to the Prado. 
Riess: He did the Velasquez. 

Gump: Any student did that. He is a marvelous draftsman. The only 

difference between him and Dali is that Dali kept on the same craft. 
He was a marvelous craftsman. Of course, some of his subject matter 
is sort of screwy, but it's interesting. I wouldn't mind having a 
Dali. Not because it's Dali, but I find it fascinating, his 
approach. I don't like a thing just because it's original. 



Investor Buying of Art 



Gump: But I've discussed that before. If a thing's original that doesn't 
mean that it's worthwhile having, unless you paid $10,000 for it and 
you find that it's now selling in the market for $150,000. I know 
guys who buy stuff like that. I know a man who's in the music 
business I've met him down in the South Seas who told me about how 
he would buy a certain guy's works. He said, "I don't know if it's 
any good. I know it's going up in value." Now that to me is crazy, 
but an awful lot of buying is done that way. And I'm telling you 
there's going to be an awful crash when people get tired of it; 
that's going to kill a lot of that abstract stuff. I've studied 
cubism; I know what it's about. It's not as if I don't like it 
because I don't understand it, you know. But there's going to be a 
trend back to realism. 

Riess: Was a lot of the buying at Gump's investor buying in that way? 

Gump: Well, it was from the viewpoint of my father who knew William Keith 
quite well and bought quite a few Keiths. I've grown up with a 
bunch of Keiths. My brother and I ended up giving them all to St. 
Mary's College. We didn't like Keith. Now he's very strong and 



54 



Gump: coming back. I remember my father mentioning quite a few people who 
are very strong now. It's just like talking about a stock, it's 
funny. 

Talk about things coming back I remember we had an altar set, 
a K'ang Hsi. I think it was, in the Oriental Department. Or was it 
Chia Ching? No. it's Chia Ch'ing, not Chia Ching. Chia Ching is 
Ming. [Wade-Giles spellings] 

Riess: I don't know how to spell any of this stuff. 

Gump: They don't know how to spell it either, so don't worry. No, they 
change the spelling. Just recently they changed Sung to Song. 
[Pinyin] I was brought up with Sung but we won't go into that. 
[laughter] I guess with the new spelling you can buy things for a 
Song gives one pride of possession. [laughter] 

So we had this jade altar set, beautiful. There was an incense 
burner in the middle, and a pair of candlesticks and a pair of 
vases. It was a marvelous set. And I remember telling Mr. Wheeler, 
Joe Wheeler, I said, "Well, maybe we ought to get rid of it. They 
don't sell anymore. The stuff that's selling now is the tomb stuff, 
the Tang, and things of that kind." He was always very respectful; 
he called me Mr. Richard. He said, 'Veil, Mr. Richard, I think that 
it will come back someday." Of course, that same set today would be 
worth a fortune. I think we paid them $40 for it in the early days 
of the Oriental Department. It was lying in there ever since we 
first bought Oriental stuff. And it's a very fine set. And it's 
gone up at least a hundred times in value from what we paid for it. 
So there's a kind of cycle in all this. 

Riess: Did people like Mr. Wheeler have a kind of tender concern for you? 

Gump: Oh yes, he was always very nice. And I was always very courteous to 
him, and we had a courteous rapport.* 



*Ed Wheeler, who died about 1916. 1917. Joe Wheeler's brother, he 
was a man with a magnificent imagination. He brought in a pair of 
vases and he said, "Well, what'll we call them? They're supposed to 
be Kang shi, but let's call them the General Grants." I didn't know 
why, but he said, "It's a name; it makes them important." That sort 
of thing, he built in things. 



55 



California School of Fine Arts 



Riess : And all during this period you were in art school, at the Art 
Institute? 

Gump: California School of Fine Arts, under Spencer Macky. And Macky 
told my father I was one of the best draftsmen they had at the 
California School of Fine Arts. 

They also had Arnold Blanch out here teaching at the same 
time. He taught the opposite way of looking at a nude than from 
Spencer Macky. It was very interesting. For instance, if you went 
into Blanch's class you weren't supposed to be taking it; that was 
supposed to be an advanced painting class we would go in there and 
get his ideas of how the nude should be done. 

Well, verbally I can describe it. Macky's is the idea from 
Cezanne, where you have what you call "les tons qui passent, " which 
is also known as "passing tones. " Very often you'll see a painting 
and you'll see where the background runs into the object in front. 
And that gives it a roundness. I can show you. If I can find a 
painting I did, one of the best ones I did, I'll show you. I 
definitely tried to do that. But that was Macky's system that he 
learned in Paris as a young man. That was his idea, that the 
background blended into the foreground. And you'll see that in 
Cezanne; that's what's so fascinating about his work. 

Arnold Blanch is just the opposite. He outlines all around 
not heavy outline, but he separates completely. The background 
never went into the foreground, or the nude, or whatever it was. 

II 

Riess: Was Lee Randolph at the California School of Fine Arts? 

. 

Gump: Yes, he was there. I didn't study with him. 
Riess: Otis Oldfield?* 

Gump: Yes. Oh, I learned a lot from him. He was in Paris as a young man 
when cubism came in. And he showed me what cubism was. And I got 
these people talking about cubism, and I'd say, "You don't know what 
you're talking about." 



*Helen Oldfield, Otis Oldfield and the San Francisco Art Community. 
1920s to 1960s. Regional Oral History Office. 1982. 



56 



Gimp: When I worked in the drafting room at MGM. there was a kid there. 
working there as a draftsman, an affable young guy, a very good 
designer. He said. "This is the architectural section of MGM." I 
said, "If you want, I can show you the theory of cubism just quickly 
so when you're doing this abstract stuff you'll know something about 
it." He said, "Fine." So I showed him quickly what it was, the 
basic idea of cubism, which Otis Oldfield taught me. And he got it 
from the guys who were experimenting with it. 

Riess : That's great. 

Gump: So I really got the background. I didn't get something out of a 

book. Very often you see somebody give a lecture on some artist, or 
on cubism, or surrealism, or whatever it is. And they're talking 
about it but they don't really know what the approach is. Now, for 
instance, I said I decided we'd do Art Deco the term wasn't used 
when I did this restaurant design, but I had studied it in that 
book. 

Riess: While we are talking about your art work, you took classes with the 
watered orist Richard Yip? 

Gump: Oh yes, much later, in 1955 and 1956. He was a terrific teacher, 
and I'll tell you why he's so good, since we're on that subject. 
When I did watercolors before they looked very pale, like 
watercolors. In fact, I have one over here in my bedroom. I'll 
show you in a second. The guys in England thought it was wonderful. 
They could put it up and show it at Spink's and they knew it would 
sell right away. [Spink & Son. Ltd., London art dealers from whom 
Mr. Gump buys and to whom he sometimes consigns.] But I don't do 
that type of painting anymore. That was a paler palette. 

Now, having studied with Yip, I have a very powerful palette. 
Some of my subjects are as strong as in oil; the colors are that 
heavy. Not heavy, but they're just thick, and I'm not afraid to use 
them. Yet they look like watercolors because you have the wet paper 
when you're doing them to get that blending and stuff that you can't 
get in oil. And if you do the dry stuff not dry brush, that's 
another technique like the English watercolors, very pale, little 
strokes, like painting china or something, they don't have the power 
that Yip taught me. 

How I got to him, I saw the work of a friend of ours over in 
Sausalito and I asked about it. I said, "Gee whiz, that's terrific 1 
How did you get that?". Because it looked so professional and 
finished. And she said she studied with Yip she's a housewife. So 
the next time the classes came around I studied with him. I found 
it increased my power in the palette, and various techniques that I 
had been reading about. He has taught me quite a lot. 



following p. 56 



Ankor, Cambodia, 1965, by Richard Gump 
Church near Venus Point, Tahiti, 1962, by Richard Gump 









, V:- ; 







Ank.or Cambodia. 196;, by Richard Gt, 




Chin i It nr.it' \'ctiti : 

T.I/1U: 






57 



San Francisco Artists 

. 



Riess: Other people at the School of Fine Arts were Piazzoni did you take 
anything from Gottardo Piazzoni? 

Gump: His name is very Italian. [in Italian dialect] 

Riess: The name is very Italian, yes. Well, how about Beniamino Bufano? 

Gump: Oh, I know Benny. He's wonderful. I can tell you some funny stories 
about him. I got along very well with Benny, but you know, he could 
be very insulting. 

I had a lot of fabric woven down in Mexico during the war. It 
wasn't selling. He walked in and I asked if he liked it, and he 
said, "Yes." I said, "Take some." And he had a jacket made out of 
it. He looked wonderful, too. It was rather heavy stuff; it was 
all wool, done in Mexico. "Genuine imported Mexican wool." 
[laughs ] 

I'm not trying to say how charming or generous I was to Benny, 
but I always got along quite well with him. I bumped into him one 
night at Trader Vic's. I was with my niece. She was saying how 
amusing he was, because he was very amusing. One of my wives bumped 
into him on a plane and she said, "What are you doing?" (She was 
coming up from Mexico, I think.) And he said, "I've just been down 
in South America, cementing relations." [laughter] Isn't that a 
wonderful line? 

Riess: Yes. 

Gump: There's more. Boy, you could write a book of Benny Bufano stories. 

Riess: How about George Post? 

Gump: Oh, I knew him, and I like his work. 

Riess: Would he have been in school with you? 

Gump: I don't think so. He could have been, but you see, I only went to 
the evening classes. A funny thing. I went there in 1931 and I 
went there ten years later in 1941. And I don't know which is 
which. I have some drawings from both periods and I can't tell 
which is which. 

Riess: Were Dorothea Lange, Maynard Dixon, all those people in town in the 
thirties? 

Gump: Oh, Maynard Dixon was here, yes. 






58 

Riess: Are you part of the Bohemian crowd? 

Gump: No, I was younger than that whole group. I couldn't have been part 
of that; they're older than I am. 

Riess: Jacques Schnier told me a story about being in his studio in the 

Montgomery Block, and you and your band came and played or something 
like that.* Did you have a musical group in the thirties? 

Gump: It might have been some Tahitians; I don't know. Auge [August] 
Goupil. I met him through my sister. 

Riess: That's it! How about people like Albert Bender? 

Gump: Well, I know my mother knew him. But I didn't know him. 



Groups and Snobs 



Riess: I'm trying to put you into some niche. 

Gump: No, I'm a maverick in any group. I didn't go to Juilliard, so I'm 
not in that group. I didn't go around with any Bohemian group. I 
didn't go around with any particular group. I might fall in with 
some group just for a while, because we had something in common. 
But I didn't always stick with any group. I wasn't that way. 

Lots of people join groups or are a part of groups because they 
feel more secure around people who think the same as they do. I'll 
give you a perfect example. Some people talk about the snobbish 
business of wealthy people. You start to think about it I'm not 
defending myself, because I'm not that rich most people like to be 
members of the Bohemian Club, the P.U. [Pacific Union] Club, or 
whatever it is, because they're with a group of people who think the 
same and they're comfortable. They get with people who don't think 
the same and they're uncomfortable. That's why they have this herd 
instinct. So it's not a question of snobbishness at all. 

I've been with people, for instance, down at the Burlingame 
dub. I was going out with a girl who was a member there for a 
while. And I got along perfectly all right because I'd adjust to 



*Jacques Schnier, A Sculptor's Odyssey. Regional Oral History 
Office, 1987. p. 65. 



59 



Gump: that group. And I found a lot of old friends of mine there. I 

remember I hadn't seen Pete Folger for about four years. He .md I 
were in the same class at Potter. So I adjusted. People would say, 
'\Dh gee, Pete Folger!" He was just Pete Folger to me. 

My sister was a terrible snob. W. Clemens Horst was an 
enormous dealer in hops. He supplied hops to the German breweries. 
I went to school with him and I remember saying to my sister, "I'm 
going to see Bud Horst this evening. Do you want to see him?" She 
said, "Don't call him 'Bud.'" I said, "What the hell? I I call him 
'Bud,' and if he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to talk to me." 
So naturally I called him Bud right in front of my sister. "Oh, 
that's terrible." But then she realized that Bud could take it from 
an old friend. Maybe not from some guy he just meets in his office. 
He doesn't want the "Bud" business, any more than I like first names 
too much, 

I'm very snobbish that way. The reason I'm snobbish that way, 
or defensive or whatever you want to call it it's not a question of 
not wanting to be friendly, it's a question of there being certain 
divisions in society, and it makes you more comfortable if you know 
what division you're in. If suddenly somebody calls me by my first 
name, I don't know what this is all about. Ordinarily you would 
call me Mr. Gump. 

For instance, the other day at the hospital a nurse I had just 
met said, "Do you want to be called 'Richard' or 'Mr. Gump? 1 " I 
said, "It's more comfortable for me if you call me 'Mr. Gump."' I 
just feel more comfortable with people I don't know. 

Riess: The informality is supposed to make you feel more comfortable? 

Gump: I think so. Because they think I'm a hail fellow, well met, "Oh 
sure, call me Dickl" 

Riess: Well listen, I think that's a good place to stop. 



Living in Europe. 1927-192W 

Riess: You were in Europe for eighteen months, 1927-1928? 

Gump: Yes, that's right. I had a studio in Neuilly sur Seine. All I 
studied was French life, mostly French night life. [laughs] 

I also would follow up tips we had about going to see producers 
of stuff that might be good for the store. I went to many of these 
places in Paris. And in 1927 Stanley Corcoran, whom I mentioned 
before, came through and we went up to Brussels and then we also 






60 



Gump: went up to Amsterdam. Then I flew from Amsterdam back to Paris and 
from then on I didn't do much with the store because he had left 
Europe. 

Then after that, in 1927 this was a major thing you know the 
famous Orient Express? Well, I took that very run. except not from 
London, but the very run from Paris down to Venice where my mother 
was waiting for me. We had part of a palazzo there, which was 
terrific. I couldn't speak any Italian then, but she left me alone 
just with servants who could only speak Italian. They didn't even 
speak French. My French wasn't too good then either. But I did 
learn to speak. The best thing I remember, after I had been there a 
month I made a date with a barmaid. So it shows that love will 
force all kinds of languages out of people, good and bad. 

Riess: You weren' t going to teach her English, I take it. 

Gump: No, I wanted to learn Italian. I didn't want her to learn English. 
She might hear what I was saying to these friends of mine! 

Riess: So did you really study art seriously? 

Gump: When I was in Europe? 

Riess: Yes. 

Gump: Not particularly, no. When I talk about night life, that's true. 

A funny thing happened I went to our agent's office every once 
in a while, an agent for Gump's. And there I got to know one of the 
junior owners of this series of offices. He was an English guy, and 
I got to know him quite well. In fact, I've seen him up until he 
died a couple of years ago. But because he was English, I got to 
run around Paris with a whole bunch of English fellows. It was 
quite amazing. 

So when our buyer came the next year, I said to him [in English 
accent], "Hello Stanley, how are you?" He said, "Where did you get 
that accent?" I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, 
"Where did you put on that English accent?" I didn't know that I 
had adopted that. I don't know if it 1 s "adapted" or "adopted." I 
haven't adopted it yet; it was adapted at the time, because I was 
going around with these English guys. On the other hand, this 
English friend of mine thinks he's putting on an American accent, 
and it sounds like hell. I hope my English accent was better than 
his American. 

But anyway, it's so difficult. I know how difficult it is. 
It's intonation in all foreign languages. I found that out years 
ago. My Russian is supposed to be excellent. I studied mostly the 
sound, intonation. And you might say the cadences are very 



61 



Gump: important. I'll give you an idea in French very quickly. [gives 

example in French] My brother used to put an gu:tural "r" in there 
and he sounded like a German trying to speak French. 



Agents for Gump's in Europe 

Riess: When you talk about agents for Gump's, what was the store's 
relationship to these agents? 

Gump: Oh, they had to see about the shipping and all that. Shipping and 
the whole thing. And look to sources for new things to sell the 
public. 

Riess: How did your father make these connections with the agents? 

Gump: He didn't. I think it was Mr. Newell who made them. Just say the 

management of the store made the connections. You don't have to get 
into detail. The management of the store made these connections. 

On one trip, as a matter of fact, they didn't have anybody to 
go up to Belgium at the time. There were two buyers who were using 
that same office, one of them from Omaha and the other one from 
Detroit. And they always traveled together, these two guys. They 
were like a vaudeville team. And so the agent said, "Can you go up 
to pick them up? Because you speak French, would you take them up 
to Belgium?" So I did that. They were given the addresses of 
people to see, and then I would make notes for them. 

Riess: They were traveling for specialty stores? They had stores in Omaha 
that were like Gump's? 

Gump: Not like Gump's, but they had the same sort of stuff in that field, 
European stuff, European gifts. And then the other one in Detroit 
I've forgotten. But we could look it up. 

But I have to tell you a funny story about them. We were in 
Utrecht in Holland we had gotten through Belgium and we were 
sitting around at dinner, and I told them, "Earlier this year I went 
down to Spain. I wanted to buy some stuff for the store." (I had a 
request for a lot of antique Spanish furniture for a place down in 
Monterey, the Jacks of Jack's Peak and all that.) One of them, 
Ollie Eldridge the guy from Omaha said, "You know, I think maybe we 
ought to go down to Spain." And this guy from Detroit says, "For 
Christ's sake, Ollie, as far as the people in Omaha are concerned, 
Spain is a breakfast food. It won't do any good." [laughter] 



62 



Furnishing a Monterey Adobe: The Jacks 



Gump: I had a reason to go there. I had to buy a bunch of antiques for 
one of the Jack sisters. I had forgotten all about it. I had the 
plans of the room that was to be fixed, and I had quite a bit of 
antique Spanish stuff picked out for that room. That was fine; it 
was exactly what they wanted. 

Riess: How did you start working for the Jacks? 

Gump: It was an amazing thing. This little lady came into the store. We 
learned long ago you can't tell anything about people by how they 
look or how they dress. As I used to tell people in my lectures, if 
they have a lot of chinchilla or diamonds on, don't give them much 
time because they've spent it all already. [chuckles] 

But anyway, this little lady said, "I have a place down in 
Monterey and I'm fixing up an office. I like this table." And I 
said, "Well, what is it for? What is the place that you have?" She 
said, "It's an old adobe in Monterey." (It happened to be the 
oldest adobe right in Monterey I It's a famous building. And they 
had their office upstairs.) I said, "Well, you don't want that." 
It was a nice sale of a Chinese lacquer table, but I wouldn't let 
her buy it. I said, "What you want is something like this." 

She went on to describe what her place was, and I realized what 
building it was in Monterey because there are not a lot of adobes 
all over Monterey. And that's how I got the commission to buy her 
furniture for that office. It was all antiques, appropriate for 
early Calif or nians. 



Americans in Paris 



Riess: Who did you run into in Paris? Hemingway? Picasso? Tell me about 
the cafe scene when you were there. 

Gump: We knew some American expatriates around Paris. My mother knew 
quite a few because she was a great friend of Sally Stein, the 
sister-in-law of Gertrude Stein. And I may have bumped into 
Hemingway at the time because I saw quite a few of those people 
every once in a while. But I'm not going to say I met him, the way 
some people would. We probably met, and he probably wasn't 
impressed by me and I probably wasn't impressed by him, so that's 
not news. I don't think there's much to talk about. 

Riesr: Well, I won't pursue this, but you would know. 






63 



Gump: No, I wouldn't know, because at that time these people weren't so 
well-known. 

Riess: And the artists? How about the artists? 

Gump: I remember going to La Coupole, at the corner of the Boulevard de 
Raspail and the Montparnasse. And every afternoon, from 4:00- 
6:00, you would see the Japanese artist Foujita there. He was so 
obviously different. You don't see a lot of Japanese with bangs 
sitting around cafes in Paris. That gathering place was changed 
later to Deux Magots. 



More Adventures in the Art Gallery 



Riess: Then was there a period later that you were buying Matisses and 
Picassos and so on? 

Gump: I didn't necessarily buy them. Just say there were shows I had of 

them.* At that time I was able to get all kinds of stuff out of New 
York on consignment for shows. 

Riess: From New York art galleries? 

Gump: Yes, sure. And I had some very important stuff. I had a whole show 
of Rembrandt etchings, and I had another show of Durer prints, both 
wood blocks and etchings. 

Riess: And they didn't move in San Francisco? 
Gump: Oh, those moved pretty well, sure. 
Riess: More affordable? 

Gump: Yes, they were way down in price. My God, some of the prices I 

can't believe. But if you start thinking of that, you think about 
some piece of real estate you could have bought for $2,500 and it's 



*In reading about the death May 9, 1988, of Alexander Fried, 
renowned San Francisco art and music critic for 51 years, Mr. Gump 
dictated this note to Mrs. Riess: "When I was running the Gallery 
back in 1931, the Chronicle sent Alexander Fried up to see my show 
of modern paintings. He said to me, 'You tell me about this stuff. 
I am a music critic. I have never handled anything like this as an 
art critic."' 



64 



Gump: worth a quarter of a million. I mean, I never think of that. 

You're crying over spilt milk, and there's an awful lot of spilt 
milk in the art business that you could cry about. 

There's something in the Wilson book about running the gallery. 
I was criticized for buying these old masters, and my brother said I 
was ahead of my time. I wasn't ahead of my time. Nobody backed me 
up on the stuff. And that's when I quit. 

I can give you an idea of the prices then. I had the "Flight 
Into Egypt" of Pieter Brueghel the younger. (I had a proper 
authentication from De Groot, who is a top guy on Brueghels.) And 
all Brueghel did was paint this scene of where he lived, and then 
put figures in there, Mary on a donkey and next to her St. Joseph, 
of course. And little Jesus you can hardly make out. But anyway, 
they're in this scene in Flanders. I could recognize the village. 
He did that very often. I had that for sale for $4,500. Well, just 
a couple of years ago the same painting was for sale for $65,000 at 
the Biennale in Florence, held in the Strozzi Palace. And that 
would have been cheap then. $65,000 for that now I But imagine, I 
had it for sale for $4,500. So if you start talking about what you 
could have bought something for and what it's worth twenty years 
later, you'd be going crazy about all the stuff you bought or 
missed. 

Riess: When you were running the gallery did you really try to sell people 
on things? 

Gump: I gave the shows as much publicity as we could afford. You have to 
remember, that was right after the crash in '29. I was running it 
in 1931 and part of '32. 

Riess: I read that later Robert Arneson and Nathan Oliveira and Wayne 

Thiebaud had their first shows at Gump's.* Is it appropriate to say 
that you discovered Arneson, Oliveira, and Thiebaud? 

Gump: I don't know them very well. I can't be associated with that. To 
say "we" discovered such artists the implication is I did it. And 
I'm not claiming that. So you can't say "we" discovered. 

Riess: Would the person who was running the gallery go out and find artists? 

Gump: No, the people would bring their works in. Or else we would hear 
through a friend about such-and-such an artist who was doing some 
very interesting stuff, and we should go out and see his work. I 
found a guy down in Mexico who was marvelous. He was totally deaf, 



*"California Living Magazine," San Francisco Sunday Examiner & 
Chronicle. April 21, 1985, pp. 11-13. 



65 



Gump: stone deaf. He was a great artist. And he happened to be very red. 
very communist. Well, not he his father was. But they were 
inspired people. I don't know what happened to him. He probably 
went to Cuba like another friend of mine who was very communist. 
And I understand he was taken out and shot because he didn't go by 
what they wanted. 



On Turning a Profit 

Riess: Does the Art Gallery make money for the store, or is it just a very 
nice thing? 

Gump: Some years it would, some years it wouldn't. It depends how things 
sell. Obviously it didn't make any money when I was in charge. 
That's why they say if I wasn't the boss's son I would've been 
canned years ago. You know, you have that quote in there. [see p. 68] 

Riess: But what was your sales style? Your father presumably would have 
made the sale on a personal basis? 

Gump: Not necessarily, because there wasn't a big profit on it. [laughs] 
It was being consigned, you see. There wasn't a big markup like on 
what we used to call the big ticket items. See, the stuff he bought 
in the Orient was before people even appreciated it I remember 
there was a vase for sale. 

Riess: No, wait you're saying that on the big ticket items the markup is 
all yours? 

Gump: Oh, certainly. But lots of times we didn't even know how to mark 

the stuff. Because, let's say we had a K'ang Shi vase that maybe we 
bought in the early days, before the Fair in 1915. We may have 
bought that thing for $25, an authentic K'ang Shi vase. Now $2,500 
would be cheap for it. 

You see, they kept thinking that way all the time. As a matter 
of fact, the trouble with the store right now is that the people 
from New York want this quick turnover. They don't think of holding 
something for maybe five years and it goes up ten times in value. 
They can think of growth in stocks, but they never think of growth 
in inventory. They think you should turn it over. 

My father was the opposite. He had the idea of sitting on it 
and waiting for it to get in fashion. You had to think two ways in 
running that business. For instance, a pattern in china, let's say 
a Lenox pattern in china that sold well, until we got these experts 
coming in the store who told us how to handle it, we would reorder 



66 



Gump: down the whole line of china. Not that particular pattern, and not 
only that particular manufacturer. It might have included Spode and 
Wedgwood and everything else. We would reorder according to our sales. 

Well, that's not a good way to do it. You do it to promote most 
what sells best. And so we found out that we were promoting stuff 
that's hardly turning over, but then we would neglect stuff that was 
turning over very fast. And then we would neglect keeping the stock. 

Riess: When you had art on consignment from galleries in New York, what was 
the profit there? 

Gump: Oh, sometimes it would be double, which is all right. We didn't 

have our money laid out in it. We didn't buy it; it was all there 
as investment. And they would figure it's fine, because that was 
during the time when things were awful. Particularly in New York 
where things were way down and people were getting reserved seats to 
jump out windows. 

(I anticipate nothing as bad as that crash, but I anticipate a 
terrific not depression. What's the other word they use now? 

Riess: Recession? 

Gump: Yes, recession. I don't know the difference. But anyway, I 
anticipate an awful crash.) 



Marriage to Frances, 1928 



Riess: Tell me about your first marriage. Where did you meet your wife? 

Gump: I met her in the store, and she since that time has become a famous 
interior decorator down in southern California. She has marvelous 
taste. She was in the Oriental Department. 

Riess: You mean she was working in the Oriental Department? 

Gump: Yes. 

Riess: And what is her name? 

Gump: Frances Broberg Moore. She's got excellent imagination and taste. 

I left after we had met, and went to Europe. I forgot all 
about her. Then somebody said, "You should go and see her again." 
I came back here in 1928 and I found her still in love, so we got 
married. She was in love with me, I guess; I don't know. We were 
separated in '32. 



67 



Riess: 
Gump: 



Riess: Where did you live during that first marriage? 

Gump: We lived in an apartment on Pacific Avenue, quite nice. In fact. 
when they built it she was able to tell the guy how she wanted it. 
It would be very smart today, the way we fixed it. I remember that 
living room we did the first year. We did it all in sort of 
Venetian painted stuff. Not the corny Venetian, but the 
stuff that we found out could be done in Italy in a beautiful style. 
It's still done today. In fact, the best guy in the world is right 
opposite my studio there in Florence. Then I think we got tired of 
it and I made it sort of Georgian the next year. Because each year 
I was going to Europe to buy, until I quit. 

Do you have pictures of the interiors of your houses? 

It might have been in one of the west coast magazines. I'll tell 
you one thing they asked me what was the color of the rug in the 
bedroom. I remember that. I remember having a Catalan bed, you 
know, a painted bed. It was quite attractive. And I said, "Well, I 
don't know. Call it mouse grey." So they used that expression, 
mouse grey. Now do you know mice at all, or rats? You'll find all 
kinds of greys, from black to white. So mouse grey doesn't mean 
anything. 

Like sand color I remember one time the head of the Honolulu 
store said, "Get me a couple of samples of sand color." I said, 
"Okay." So I go into her office, and I bring a white velvet and a 
black velvet. She said, "No, I asked for sand color." I said, 
"This is sand color. The white one is the Carmel sand, and the 
black one is the sand of Kalapana. So when you say sand, I don't 
know what you mean? Do you mean beige? What do you mean?" But 
they use these expressions, you know. They say sweaters in such- 
and-such colors. I don't know what the hell color it is. If they 
say hunter's green, you've got a pretty good idea, but I notice 
there are at least ten different colors that are blue. Marine blue, 

navy blue they'll use these terms. Jade green of course, jade 

green is all kinds of colors. 

Riess: Isn't your ring what is commonly thought of as jade green? 

Gump: Well yes, "Imperial" jade green. I used to tell people in my lectures 
that if they would think of the 17th of March then they'd know what 
the right color for jade is. And they would say, "What are you 
talking about?" And I said, "St. Patrick's Day green. It's the 
perfect color for the best jade if it's translucent and not opaque." 
Not translucent like plastic, but with some depth to it. 

But I can't remember why we separated, the reason for it. It 
wasn't any nasty situation or anything like that. I guess we just 
didn't get along, or something. 



68 



Riess : Was she very interested in her career? 

Gump: No, not at that time. She left the store and then she went to work 
for Lee Eleanor Graham, who was a famous west coast decorator. She 
learned quite a lot from her. 

Riess: And that was 1932? 

Gump: That's when we separated. 



Misunderstood 



Riess: Yes. but that's also the time that you left the store. Why did you leav 

Gump: Well, the reason was very simple. My brother. I remember, I was 
over at his home and he said, "You know, Rosenblatt and I were 
saying that if you weren't the son of the boss you would have been 
canned long ago." And I said, "Isn't that nice?" I remember not 
saying anything until the next morning. Then I walked into my 
father's office and I told him I was quitting. 

What I was trying to do was build up an appreciation of old 
paintings. Also of modern art. Nobody in the store really 
understood good paintings, period paintings, nor did they understand 
some of the new approaches toward modern art which I was studying at 
the same time at the School of Fine Arts. 

Riess: Did you get a lot of support for what you were trying to do from 
museum directors in the city? 

Gump: Well, they appreciated what I was showing, sure. Another thing that 
happened I got to know quite a few of the students over at the art 
school. I'd say, "Come in and see it." And my father kept saying, 
"You're spending too much time on these students. They'll never buy 
anything." Well, for all I know, maybe in the future they may have 
made a lot of money and become great artists, I don't know. But we 
just had a lot in common, and I wanted to show them I told you the 
story about Foujita and the model. 

Riess: Yes. 

Gump: Well, that's typical of what my approach toward them was. 
If 

Riess: I had read that you were trying to get the Palace of Fine Arts as an 
exhibition space for young artists. 



69 



Gump: I don't remember about that. Lloyd Rollins, who took over the 

deYoung Museum, built up the attendance there. And I worked with 
him quite a bit. I saw that he was imaginative and was turning that 
museum into something that the public would appreciate. 

Riess: So you worked with him by lending things for exhibition? 

Gump: Well, we had certain things like that we did. I can't remember 
exactly, but I tried to cooperate with him as much as I could in 
those days. And then, you see, after that I got to know Walter Heil 
very well. He was excellent and did a marvelous job at the deYoung. 
And Tom [Thomas Carr] Howe I knew rather well, at the Legion of Honor. 

Riess: And so they would have seen Gump's as a legitimate force for art. 

Gump: Well, downtown at least. Maybe I took some of the attendance off of 
the museums, because they would come into Gump's instead of going 
way out to the Park or the Legion. 

I used to go to the museums a great deal. I remember one time 
there was a show at the Legion of Maurice Sterne's drawings I guess 
it was nudes, I can't remember, life drawings we called them. And I 
remember looking at his stuff, and I learned something about the way 
he did some of his stuff. I adapted that style once in a while. 

Riess: I read in Carol Greene Wilson's book of your speaking to the art 

section of the Commonwealth Club to plead for "public encouragement 
of creative artists" and the Commonwealth dub formed a group to 
buy paintings and hold them and then sell them? 

Gump: I did get a group together, and then I don't know what happened to 
it. I think I left the store right after that, so that I didn't 
follow it through. I couldn't very well, waiting for a job in 
Hollywood. 

Riess: Okay. So you decided that the thing to do was quit because it was 
too unpleasant. 

Gump: Well, it was too unpleasant. I not only had my older brother trying 
to harpoon me, but at that time one of the store department heads 
trying to harpoon me because they didn't know anything about what I 
was doing. If ignorance is bliss, it's folly to be wise. It's 
horrible to be ignorant is how I should put it. If ignorance is 
bliss, it's not so blissful as it is destructive. 

Riess: But how about your father? Did he stand back and just let all of 
the fur fly, or did he intervene on your behalf? 

Gump: Well, he did as much as he could. But then he didn't know what was 
going on very well, although he was alert enough. His great 
love was the Oriental section and his mind was on that. 



70 



IV HOLLYWOOD AND HONOLULU. 1932-1941 



Hollywood, MGM Drafting Room 

Riess: How did you decide what your next port of call was going to be in 
1932? 

Gump: It's a funny thing. I was leaving the deYoung one time and ahead of 
me was Sammy Smith, who had worked for us since 1869. And he said, 
"I was just thinking of you. I hear you're going down to Hollywood. 
I think that would be a good place for you." 

Sammy Smith, the oldest employed man in the United States! 
[laughs] He weighed my father when he was born. He was sixteen 
years old in 1869. And he was on our payroll for eighty years. I 
think it's a world's record. It should be in the Guinness Book of 
Records. We put his last paycheck up in the personnel department, 
saying, "People work a long time at Gump's." He had to retire, but 
we paid him something a month. So that was eighty years that he was 
on our payroll. 

He's also the one we used to have this long stairway going up 
to the shop and somebody said, "Gee, you go running up that long 
stairway." And he said, "Well. I learned a long time ago, the 
quicker I run up there, the quicker I get it over with." 

Riess: What were your connections to Hollywood? Did you know anyone there? 

Gump: Well, yes, through Gouverneur Morris. He wrote script stuff for 
movies. And he introduced me to Cedric Gibbons with the idea of 
getting a job at MGM which I did get, finally, after about six weeks 
of waiting out in the drafting room with a bunch of architects who 
were out of work. I already had competition there because at that 
time there was no work for these architects. So I had to keep up 
w i th the se guy s. 

Riess: And what did the drafting room at MGM do? 



71 



Gump: They designed sets. You see, the movies were going like crazy then. 
People could get away from their troubles by going to a movie. I 
remember when I lived in Hollywood at the time I would see two 
movies, Class B and Class A, for twenty-five cents. And all the 
movies were running hot. And they made money off that. They could 
figure on enormous releases all over the country because people 
would have their dream world. We manufactured dream worlds that 
didn't exist because of the crash. 

What I learned there was working very accurately. One j ob I 
had, I was given a picture of one of the desks in the Senate 
Chambers in Washington, and I had to figure this out with a 
magnifying glass, literally. I made the drawing in about three 
hours and I remember it was sent to the shop and produced overnight. 
This is the way they worked there. There were thirty-two of those 
made, of redwood. They didn't need to do ninety-six because of how 
they had set the cameras. 

That was for the picture, 'Gabriel Over the White House." I 
think the story originally ran in the Post, something like that. 
And they made a famous movie of it. But I had to work very 
carefully. It wasn't a question of doodles. You had to do actual 
detailing. And I did this drawing exactly as the photograph showed. 
It turned out that my drawing was okay. 



Agent and Extra 



Gump: Then when I was in Hollywood I tried to get into writing popular 
songs, and also I became an agent for Polynesian actors. 

Riess: You had gone to the South Seas? 

Gump: I had been there, yes. And later on I became an agent for a bunch 
of Polynesians for various movies that were coming up. I was 
supposed to get ten percent from them, but if I went to collect the 
ten percent from all of these eighty or ninety guys I had signed up, 
I wouldn't have made a nickel. So we just forgot about that. 

But one time the movie "Hurricane" came up. Because I had 
something I had to do I've forgotten what it was I couldn't help 
to handle that, supplying the natives for the original "Hurricane." 
(They did it again recently, I think.) So I turned it over to a 
Samoan guy, a rather well-educated guy who had written a book. His 
name was Tuf ele. 

I turned that over to him, and he made quite a lot of money off 
of that. He got a commission from all of these guys. He wasn't a 
tough guy or anything like that, he was a very nice person. He said 



72 



Gump: afterwards, "You know, you've been so kind to me. Any time you 

want, you can go to Samoa and live the rest of your life in absolute 
harmony. " 

I found out afterwards when I bumped into Admiral Fiske, who 
was in charge of the Samoan Islands when it was under the navy I 
bumped into him out in Hawaii before the war he said, ''Oh 
yes, Tufele, the family, they're the tops out there. They're 
wonderful." He said, "You had that invitation? You really had a 
life there set up for you." Because nobody could live there unless 
asked. You had to be Samoan. They were very strict. 

As a matter of fact, I knew that Hugh Kelley, who co-owned the 
Bali Hai Hotel on Moorea with Jay Carlisle and Donald "Muck" 
McCallum they also had hotels at Raiatea and Huahine he had some 
plans to put up a Bali Hai place there you know, like the ones down 
in Moorea in the South Seas. And I said, "Well, I doubt if you can 
put it there." It turned out it didn't work out. Why, I don't 
know, but I'm pretty sure it's because it's so exclusive, and it's 
been kept so separate. Now that it's under the Department of the 
Interior I don't know how it's treated. But when it was under the 
navy they preserved that just for Samoans. 

So this was quite a reward I was given for I only thought, 
"Well, here's a nice guy. I'll turn the j ob over to him." He had 
already written a book called Dawn in Savai. Savai was the original 
name of the center of the Samoan Islands, an ancient name. 

Riess: The Polynesians that you were able to round up for these crowd 
scenes were already living in Hollywood? 

Gump: Yes, living there. 

I got to know quite a lot of American Indians, too. I remember 
one time I was an extra in a picture, I think it was called 
"Sutter's Gold." I was sitting on a log next to an Indian guy with 
a very cultured voice. I said, "I wonder if we're getting back in 
another scene, or should we just sit around and freeze to death." 
Because we were in summer clothes but it was winter down in the San 
Fernando Valley. Always it was reversed. I wasn't doing anything 
then, and any chance I got to make a few extra bucks, I'd go in 
there. They didn't pay much in those days, but it was a good 
experience. 

So I'm talking to this guy for quite a while and I think, 
'Ceez, he's got a very cultured voice, but boy he looks like he's 
been batteredl" Well, you know who it was? It was Jim Thorpe! 

Riess: Oh really? 



73 



Gump: A very nice guy. He's supposed to have imbibed a little bit too 
much, but. he was very nice. We had quite a nice chat. He and I 
were extras on this movie. 

Riess: He's baseball, isn't he? 

Gump: Everything. He was in the Olympics. In the first Olympic games he 
won everything he went in for. Then he turned professional, so they 
wouldn't put him in the honorary roll. And just recently, after he 
died, they decided it was okay to put his name down. I think it was 
after Avery Brundage died, too. 

Riess: The reason that you were the agent for the Polynesians did you 
speak some language? 

Gump: No, no. These jobs came up, and I would supply all the natives, 
instead of central casting doing it. 

One time word got around amongst these natives let's call them 
natives, because there were Indians as well, and Mexicans. All of 
them looked native, you see. What do they call them, Hispanics? 
The word got around that they were casting for some movie at Paramount. 
Geez, about a hundred natives showed up, and they blamed me. Some 
guy who was in charge of central casting whom I knew said, "How did 
you happen to do this?" I said, "I didn't tell them anything." He 
said, "I don't know how this news got around." They were going 
crazy over at Paramount with a hundred natives wanting to know when 
they go to work. And it was just some gossip that went around. I 
didn't start that thing. I know who started it. It was a guy who 
was my assistant. He was a big mouth. He shouldn't have said that. 

"My Tane" and AS CAP 



Riess: Were you successful in music down there? 

Gump: Just before I went there I happened to write this tune, "My Tane." 
The story of "My Tane" is funny. The Goupils were playing it in 
their apartment one time. They're a well-known Tahitian family. 
They were a very famous French family and Gump's in the early days, 
in the 1880s and '90s, we had prints from them. They used to 
represent certain prints. Goupil was a famous gallery in Paris. But 
part of the family went to the South Seas at Gauguin's recommendation. 
That's how they happened to go there. 

Anyway, these Goupil kids were playing this one tune. I said, 
'KJee, that's a beautiful thing. Let's do something with it." It's 
just eight bars. They didn't even know how many bars it was, they 
couldn't read music, but there was a nice sound to this tune. So I 
put a bridge in it and wrote the lyrics. 



74 



Gump: But it didn't get promoted until I bumped into Johnny Noble down in 
southern California. He was famous for "Little Grass Shack" and a 
lot of others, too. He said, "That's a good tune. We'll put that 
on." And he put his name on it, too, of course. And he got a cut. 
It became quite a big hit. It's still a standard; I still make a 
few bucks on it. That was written in 1933. [Published 1934, 
Bourne, Inc.] 

You see, when he got ahold of that then it became quite a hit. 
But he was ASCAP. I didn't belong to ASCAP in those days. It 
wasn't until maybe twenty years later that I joined ASCAP. If I had 
been a member of ASCAP you know what that is, American Society of 
Composers and Publishers when I was in Hollywood, I would have 
probably been able to sell an awful lot of tunes. They would have 
listened. As I always told people, I am the greatest unpublished 
songwriter. I have all kinds of tunes. Every possible thing I 
wrote, because I understood about music. I didn't just do it by 
ear; I knew what made a thing sound German, I knew what made a thing 
sound Italian, or South Seas. Whatever it was, I knew the reason 
for it sounding that way. 

Riess: But you just didn't take yourself seriously. 

Gump: Yes, I did. But I had no way of getting the stuff in pictures 
because I didn't belong to ASCAP. They wouldn't touch anything 
unless you belonged to ASCAP; they didn't want lawsuits, you see, in 
the studios. 

Riess: Well, why didn't you join ASCAP? 

Gump: It's very simple: because I wasn't asked. You have to be asked to 
join, or you have to have somebody with influence to put you in. I 
got into ASCAP later because of a musician, a very good musician who 
was in the store one time and asked me if I belonged to ASCAP. I 
said, "No, "and he said, "You ought to be." That's how I got in. 

It doesn't mean that ASCAP is good or bad or indifferent. But 
they can't be taking every guy and his brother and putting them in 
ASCAP. As it is now, they watch everything that's played of mine, 
in any form, and I get a cut on it. But you can write absolute 
crap put that in there, I don't care and still you can be an ASCAP 
member. 



Rudolph Schaeffer 



Riess: When you were in San Francisco studying art did you consider 
studying at the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design? 



75 

Gump: No. but I just read where he turned a hundred and one. [Schaeffer 
died March 5, 1988.] He used to come in the store once in a while. 
In fact, we gave him a Thai-Khmer Buddha for his school. 

Riess: He sounded as if he was an interesting theorist. 

Gump: Oh. very. Excellent, as far as I know. I never studied with him, 
but he was excellent on color. I should have gone to see him, 
because he remained fairly articulate. I remember he had a sort of 
flexible mind, the few times I spoke with him. He was one of those 
people whose minds remained open on subjects they already knew. It 
is a great quality. Even Frank Lloyd Wright was flexible after he 
stopped his bullying. 



Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright 

Riess: Were you interested in the new architecture in Los Angeles when you 
were in Hollywood, Neutra, Schindler, and so on? 

Gump: I got to know them later. 

Riess: Did you get to know Neutra? 

Gimp: Yes, Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, too. 

Riess: There were a lot of immigrant architects who had just come to 
Hollywood from Germany. 

Gump: Gropius and people like that. And Mendelsohn was another one. But 
he lived here. As a matter of fact, his daughter [Esther] worked 
for us for a while. 

Riess: Had you any personal contact with any of them? 

Gump: Not down there, no, but I did get to know Neutra because when I 
lectured in Aspen in 1952, afterwards there was a big question 
period and he asked me a lot of questions. He was very interested, 
and a very nice guy. 

Neutra was hired by Breuner's [furniture store] over in Oakland 
to find out why people didn't go into a certain room. They couldn't 
figure out if it was the color or the design or something. He sat 
there for a week trying to figure it out, and finally he realized 
what it was. You know what it was? It had nothing to do with 
aesthetics. It was the smell of the carpet. He figured that out. 
See, everybody thinks everything's always artistic. It isn't. It's 
a lot of other things. 



76 



f* 

Gump: You know, Frank Lloyd Wright this was a funny thing. I was the 

secretary to the California Art Association one year. We were asked 
for a dinner at the Family CLub, Henry Swift was president at that 
time. Frank Lloyd Wright and I got there earlier, by mistake we 
were an hour early, so I was sitting there with Frank Lloyd Wright. 
And he said, "Well, Richard, why are you here with this group of 
artists?" Because I knew him from the store. 

I said, "I have more reason to be here than you have, Mr. 
Wright." "Well, how is that?" "Well," I said, "first of all, you 
never write any music, do you?" "No." "Well, I do. I'm a composer. 
I'm sure you're an architect. I don't know about your painting. I 
don't know if I ever saw any painting of yours, but I'm known for my 
painting. So I have more reason to be here than you." [laughs] 

And I was told afterwards by Kern Weber, who is a wonderful 
contemporary designer, 'That's the way to talk to that guy. He's a 
terrible bully. If you do that to him, he admires you." Then later 
on he made some remark, he said, "You know, all music stopped with 
Beethoven." I said, "That shows you know nothing about music." I 
said that to Frank Lloyd Wright. 

I found out later, it was very interesting Neutra explained to 
me the difference between their approach towards architecture. 
Frank Lloyd Wright believed that architecture whenever possible, 
particularly in the countryside, should blend into the scenery. 
You look at that Arizona thing [Taleisen West], you can hardly see 
it in the hills. And other jobs he's done, he doesn't want to have 
it stand out. 

On the other hand, Neutra's idea is that it's a place for human 
living. It should look separate. Now, they're both right and 
they're both wrong. 

Riess: What was Frank Lloyd Wright's connection w ith the store? 

Gump: Oh, he just came in. He always came in there. The last time, or a 
couple of times before when he was there he said to Miss [Eleanor] 
Forbes she told me that he said this "You tell Richard he's doing 
a wonderful job here." And I told people, "That's the first time 
I've ever heard him say any complimentary thing about anybody." He 
loved to criticize. 

And then another time this is funny he was in the store, and 
Miss Forbes and I were just going over a book of his plans. I saw 
him out there. I said, "Speak of the devil, here he is, Miss 
Forbes." And I said to him, "Look, we're just looking at your book 
of architecture." So yes, I knew him. 



77 



V. C. Morris and Artek 



Riess: Was Wright in town because they were doing the V. C. Morris store, 
by any chance? 

Gump: Oh no, he did that before. It's a beautiful job but it's terrible 
for merchandising. You know what he told me? This shows you I've 
used this in my lectures he said. "You know, Gump. I was tired of 
people hawking their wares out on the street." He actually told me 
that. That's fine, except you couldn't hawk many wares inside if 
you didn't tempt them out on the street. So he didn't have any show 
windows. It was a beautiful building, beautiful design, but it was 
impractical as possible. You couldn't use it for anything. I know 
people who worked there and afterwards they told me how impractical 
it was. They said. "I didn't like it." "You couldn't sell because 
cf this." "You couldn't sell because of that." It was all 
practical complaints. 

Riess: You mentioned Artek earlier. 

Gump: They really did more modern stuff than anybody at that time. It was 
right after the war when there was nothing. It was modern, and so- 
called modern stuff. I have one of their chairs in my book, Gpod 
Taste Costs No More. 

Riess: It was Alvar Aalto designs? 

Gump: Yes. 

Riess: What is Artek? Who is Artek? 

Gump: A designer. And his furniture was made in Finland. 

Riess: But it was someone here who was designing things? 

Gump: Yes, he designed it, and it was produced in Finland. 

Riess: Who's "he"? 

Gump: Arthur Pasco I think was his name. 

I asked Mrs. Graham to give you this "Time for Taste" article 
that went into the Retailing Daily right after the war. [See p. 102] 
I blasted everybody because they did such horrible copies of 
antiques. I said, "Why can't we bring out some modern design?" 

Of course, Eames brought out his chair, not the comfortable 
chair, but the little one. But they found they couldn't make it 
unless they could make at least a thousand, to make the form for the 



78 



Gump: rear end. The funny thing is, for the original model they told me 

that they had some girl who did some cheesecake picture. They asked 
her. "How is it? Is it comfortable?" And she said, "Oh, it's 
wonderful, just like sitting on somebody's hand." [laughter] 



Mother's Death. 1934 



Riess: Your mother died in 1934. Was she living in San Francisco then? 

Gump: Yes. Well, she was very sick. She had cancer. I saw her fade 

away; it was awful. She was loaded on heroin, so she didn't suffer 
too much, but it was pretty bad. 

Riess: What would you say was her strongest influence on you? 

Gump: She appreciated me. Anytime I told her about some dream I had, or 
idea, I could see she was captivated by it. She would try to back 
me up, not on getting it done, but giving me the background for 
carrying out some of these ideas. 



79 
Second Marriage, and Hollywood Scene 



Riess: After Hollywood, and after your mother's death, then what is the 

sequence of events? Next you go off to join the staff in Honolulu? 

Gump: Well no, what happened was that my father wrote Mrs. [Alice] Bowen 
and asked if she could take me on. And she said, well yes, she 
would be glad to take me on. 

Riess: How did you decide you wanted to get back in the fold? 

Gump: I can't remember, but I got fed up with Hollywood. I think one of 
the main things my brother had enough sense, he told my father, 
"You ought to give him more money. He has got hardly any money, and 
people think he's a bum, a remittance man. And that doesn't do Dick 
any good if you expect him to get anyplace down in Hollywood." 
Because he knew I was working pretty hard at all the various things 
I was attempting. 

With my second wife I wrote a whole script to a movie, also the 
music, and I even laid out the sets. I was looking at it the other 
day and I thought, "That's not bad." It's probably stupid, but a 
lot of stuff that's stupid came out of that place. I did get the 
thing shown to one of the guys. He wasn't a prominent director 
then, but he became quite prominent. He said, "It's very amusing, 
but I can't handle it now because I don't handle that " for Hal 
Roach, or something. We had the idea of Laurel and Hardy doing it, 
you see. That's one thing I can remember. Now, I don't say there's 
anything good or not. But there was a lot of effort. Give me "A" 
for effort. 

Riess: But in any case, you were not being subsidized by your father. 

Gump: No. If he gave me more, I would get to meet people. Sidney Coe 
Howard had told me, 'ive me a ring sometime." I told you about 
selling him a very important Thai head. He's a very nice guy and a 
great playwright. And he said, "Well, give me a ring." So my wife 
and I had tea with him, or a drink, at the very famous place on 
Sunset Strip, the "Macambo." And I remember I met a few people 
there that he knew. And we just had a chat. But, you see, if I was 
seen in more places like that, which I couldn't afford, they 
wouldn't think I was some bum. 

Riess: Yes. You had a new wife in Hollywood? [Hela Lindelof Lenza] 

Gump: Yes, I met her down there. She came over to this country to Chicago 
under contract to the Chicago Light Opera Company. Then she went to 
Hollywood with the idea of getting into pictures, which she didn't, 
but she knew something about singing and acting and shows. She had 



80 



Gump: done German light opera, Franz Lehar and things of that kind. We 
worked on quite a few things together, ideas but like a lot of 
those ideas, they go out the window. 

By 1938 I was thinking, "Well, I'm not getting anyplace." Then 
Father said, "I want you to get back, so I'll ask Mrs. Bowen." She 
had to give permission to have me go out there, not that she could 
know what she wanted to do with me. She didn't know what I knew. 
How would she know? My father didn't even know what I could do. 



Alice Bowen. Honolulu Gump's 

Gump: Anyway, I went to Honolulu in 1939 and it turned out that they 
already had a girl who was doing sketches of stuff that people 
wanted, but everybody came to me to do the drawing. I said, "For 
god's sake, you've got Miss Williams there. She's doing it. Go to 
her." And they said, "Well, you'll get the thing done quicker and 
you know what you're doing. You'll get the drawings done for the 
shop." I said, "I don't want to take her job." 

I complained about the people coming to me. I knew why they 
did. Not that I was so bright. It was just that I had more 
experience and I knew a trick about presenting your stuff. Later 
they got another girl who took her place and I showed her how to do 
my style of sketching, showing things to be done, to show the 
clients. And after a while I couldn't tell the difference between 
my drawings and hers because I showed her these certain tricks about 
doing this stuff. I was using what I learned from Cezanne in 
drawing furniture. Now that sounds impossible. Cezanne never 
designed furniture. But it's his method of using the hot and cold, 
or light and dark. The light and dark more than hot and cold, 
because we didn't do it in colors although I did a few in color. 

And that went on. Finally, Mrs. Bowen didn't want my name Gump 
there, that was her bailiwick, her castle. One time Mrs. [Edna 
Woolman] Chase was there, the editor of Vogue, and Mrs. Bowen said, 
"Oh, I want you to meet Richard Gump. His father sent him out here 
to learn decorating from me." I thought, "Oh, geez!" 

I got her out of a lot of jams. She would suggest something 
and I would have to mechanically pull it out of the fire so the 
thing could be made. I can remember a couple of times when I would 
go to the head of the shop and say, "How the hell are we going to 
do this?" He'd say, "I don't know. We'll have to figure out some way." 

But she had marvelous ideas, terrific ideas. She actually 
invented what you see all over the Islards it's become corny 
taking the monkeypod wood they call it rain tree in Fiji, it's the 



81 



Gump: same wood, and it's got another name in India and making these 
bowls in the shape of leaves. She invented that, literally; one 
time she showed me the original drawing; she had the idea. So she 
had marvelous ideas and excellent taste. And great appreciation of 
Oriental as well as European stuff. 

Riess: Who were the clients in the Islands? 

Gump: Local people, and also people who came through the Islands. When I 
was out there big sales were made like here, in January and 
February. Then it changed and people suddenly found that you can go 
there during the summer. So a lot of people came out in the summer 
also. And I'm talking about people who came out and decided to 
build there, like Bob Topping. 

Riess: Did that store have the same kind of division between Oriental and 
European? 

Gump: No, no. She developed some European stuff, like Dorothy Thorpe 

glassware that she developed with Island motifs and all that sort of 
stuff. She did that development herself. And she had these bowls 
in monkeypod, and that's not Oriental. 

Mrs. Bowen was the head of the Outdoor Circle, an outfit that 
wouldn't allow signs in the Islands. She was responsible for doing 
that. She just died. I had wanted to see her. This is amazing I 
was in Maui, seeing a relative of mine, and he said, "I've just read 
in the paper where somebody to do with Gump's has just died at ninety- 
two." I said, "Oh my God, I wanted to see her." I had last seen her 
with Joan, my present ex-girlfriend. (That sounds funny but we were 
going together for twenty-five-odd years. She's in Florence now.) 
We went to see her and Joan thought her place was fabulous, too. 
She knows all the troubles I had with Mrs. Bowen. I had an awful time. 

She [Mrs. Bowen] finally canned me. 
Riess: Why? 

Gump: Well, this is the story. They were having trouble with her, asking 
for stuff to be done in the shop and it would have been better if 
she turned over the shop to me. Then they could go through me to 
the shop, because we did turn out a lot of stuff there, wonderful 
new ideas. 

Fritz Abplanalp, the head of the cabinet shop, and I wrote to 
my father. And Mrs. Bowen said, "Your father suggested that I turn 
the shop over to you. I think I'll do that when you and I can see 
eye-to-eye." I said, "Did you ever see eye-to-eye with anybody?" 
And that's when you-know-what hit the fan. For two days she tried 
to get everybody in the store to say did she see eye-to-eye with 
them. Of course, what are they going to say? No? 






82 



Gump: So she said, "Well, I'm afraid we can't work together, so you should 
leave." She canned me. I became her boss later and I never even 
mentioned a thing, ever. I wouldn't do that. Why should I get 
revenge? Life's too short to be revengeful, although Shakespeare 
wrote quite a good deal of it. 

Riess: You were in your late twenties. 
Gump: Well, early thirties, 

Riess: Were you starting to mellow a little? What direction has your 
personality taken? 

Gump: Well, I'd stopped drinking, I know that. I didn't drink for twenty- 
two years. So that helped. When I was out there in the Islands I 
never was drinking at all, you see, I just didn't. In fact, I went 
on the wagon just before I went out there. I remember I got to know 
the head of the dance orchestra at the Royal Hawaiian. One time he 
had a whiskey and soda up on top of the piano, and mine was plain 
ginger ale. I had gone on the wagon about four months earlier, and 
I grabbed his whiskey and soda and took a big gulp of it. 
Ordinarily they would say, geez, that would fix you. You'd puke 
quick, you know. But I didn't. I said, "Jesus Christ, that's not 
mine. I'm drinking ginger ale." I never felt like drinking. I 
just didn't want' to. 

But fortunately my whole attitude towards alcohol changed. 
I've been on the wagon often. I was like Mark Twain stopping his 
smoking. He said, "It's easy. I've done it at least a hundred 
times." [laughter] Now I'm only drinking wine. I just won't drink 
anything else. Although they said I was alcoholic, I don't think so. 



Pearl Harbor 



Riess: Were you in Hawaii for Pearl Harbor? 

Gump: No, I had just come back here. Pearl Harbor was in December, as you 
know, and I told you before, I had the first performance of my violin- 
piano sonata, with an audience of seven, and the reason was on 
account of Pearl Harbor. 

A funny thing I had a lot of life-drawing sketches I'd done 
over at the art school. (I went back there ten years later isn't 
that funny? I was there in 1931 and then I went back there in 
1941.) I was sketching and sending them to friends of mine out in 
the Islands. It was a Sunday and I was in the basement having them 



83 



Gump: wrapped up to be sent there and the head of the basement said to me. 
"I called Matson. They don't know when tl.e boats are coming out. 
Something about a boat being jammed going into Pearl Harbor." I 
said, "I don't understand that. Let's turn on the radio and see 
what's happened." And that's when we found out about Pearl Harbor. 



following p. 83 



Three photographs at Piazza San 
Marco, Venice. 

Upper left, left to right: Stanley 
Corcoran, Richard Gump [in derby], 
Rag. R. "Renzo" Borelli, and two 
other buyers for Venetian glass, 

Upper right: Borelli, Richard Gump, 
Paul Faria, and Joan Sianta, 1964. 
Borelli was Gump's agent for Italy. 

Below: Richard Gump, Joan Sianta, 
and Teddy the dog, 1973. 



rv. 




84 



V GUMP'S. SAN FRANCISCO, 1941 



Mexico, A New Market 



Riess: When your father knew that he had you back in the store, did the two 
of you hammer out a better working arrangement? 

Gump: They didn't know what to do with me. Same old appreciation! 
Riess: I wondered what kind of an arrangement you had. 

Gump: I didn't have any arrangement. I didn't know what I was doing. He 
gave me an allowance of $500 a month. I managed to get along all 
right. I was staying with some old friends of mine down in southern 
California. And I think I had a car, yes I did, I would get around, 
go to various parties, etc. 

Riess: This is in '41? 

Gump: Yes. It was during the summer, because I returned in 1941. You 

see, my uncle wasn't so hot about my coming into the store. He's my 
father's younger brother, William. And the reason was that my 
brother disappointed him terribly, so he didn't know about me. He 
never liked me particularly, and I never liked hinu I always 
thought he was an idiot, that's all, but he was a very decent guy, 
William. 

Riess: So was the store retrenching during the war because you couldn't get 
as many things? Was it beginning to have a different feeling when 
you came back? 

Gump: Well, no. I'll tell you what happened. The only market open was 
Mexico. I went down there with Rudi Blesch. We developed a whole 
lot of stuff, to the point where there was an exhibit at the Museum 
of Modern Art here of things that Dorothy Liebes had found in 
Mexico. And half the stuff I designed as being native. In fact 
later on when I thought I was going to build a place down in Oaxaca 



85 



Gump: I went to this architect's home and I said, "My god. I designed 
these chairsl" And they're all over Mexico! I can show them to 
you, and I can prove I designed them. 

This is interesting, now you're on that subject. This little 
town of Tenancingo, which is due west of Toluca there was a 
terrible road at the time, now you can go very fast, it's all fixed, 
but in those days it took about a half an hour to go about five or 
ten kilometers into this town. Tenancingo is where all the chairs 
were made with the woven seats and backs. They used to do these 
painted things. All I did was not to have any painting and just 
have them natural, have the weaving go down the side and the back, 
and just use spindles. 

I'll tell you how I designed them. First of all I made a 
drawing, an elevation, inch and a half scale, and the natives 
couldn't read it, so then I made a perspective drawing of it. Well, 
"We don't know how to make it." So what I did, I took a lot of 
sticks and put them together to show them how to do it. And I said, 
"Okay, turn this this way, do it this way." So they did a turn, and 
they could do that. Then they would do it with lathes and turn 
them. And that was one guy. And then I said, "All right now, we'll 
weave it this way." See, different people do it. Finally we 
developed it in about two days. 

Riess: A prototype chair. 

Gump: Yes. Well, it's all over Mexico now. As I say, that was in 1942, 
and it was 1970 when I thought I was going to build the house down 
in Oaxaca and I went into this architect's place and around his 
table he'd got all these chairs. I said, "Remember I told you I 
designed some chairs? Those are designed originally in Tenancingo." 
There's some other stuff a lot of tin furniture I designed. They 
had tin there that we couldn't get here, and they made furniture 
with tin. 

Riess: Because we were saving tin during the war. 

Gump: Yes. Of course, it was phony. They used to take the stuff and turn 
it in so they could use the tin. You really can't use it over again 
but it made people feel that they were doing something for the war 
effort. 

Riess: Once you designed something and the native village started producing 
it, then did you have any exclusive right to that? 

Gump: No. As a matter of fact I did a lot of stuff that was a terrible 

flop in San Francisco. It was awful. We took a terrible beating on 
it. 



86 

Riess: Let's continue discussing your imports from Mexico during the War. 

Gump: I went to Toluca, where they do a certain type of weaving. And I 

thought, that's all very well, but they were regional designs. They 
said. "Well, they sell to Americans." I said, "That's tourists who 
have been here. I want them just plain." Okay, that's all right. 
So I took some basic colors, like natural straw, sort of reed stuff. 
And a nice carmine red, and green and yellow. 

I bumped into a guy who was just developing something for 
wholesale and we discovered we were doing the same thing, 
eliminating the regional design. The Mexicans couldn't figure it 
out, because the American tourists buy it. Well, they're 
associating it with their trip to Mexico. But when you're putting 
something on your table you don't know Mexico from a hole in the 
ground. You want something that is according to your idea of decor, 
see. He had the same reaction that I did. You've got to eliminate 
the local stuff, unless you felt it was a good design. Well, that's 
something that's just a matter of choice, a good or bad design. 

Eventually I got to know this fellow quite well. And the next 
year he became our agent. I bought like crazy then. He said, "You 
know, you're buying an awful lot. I don't know if your father likes 
this. You'd better speak to him." This was down in Mexico City, 
and it was very hard to talk to people between Mexico City and San 
Francisco. I said, "We'll take a chance." Well, to make a long 
story as long as possible, I developed quite a lot of things. But 
it wasn't promoted properly. It was artistically a great triumph, 
but practically, a disaster. 

Riess: The materials that you were developing, the designs that you were 
working on did they mix in with a more traditional look? 

Gump: They would fit in here. 
Riess: They would? 

Gump: Well, of course, there's a mixture. But it wouldn't clash. A good 
example in Puebla they had pottery. It was pretty solid. It's a 
sort of an earthenware. And of course they had all the regional 
stuff. Well, we told them to eliminate that, just put a stripe 
around it. It was cheap, it was a pretty good deal to get that in. 
And we were able to sell it rather cheap and get a good profit on 
it. Then I went overboard buying too darned much of this stuff and 
inventing too many designs to be done and finally it ended up, to 
produce what we wanted they were turning out lousy work, not as good 
as the first year. 

Oh, it wasn't a terrible amount. Let's say it was $50,000 
worth; $50,000 is nothing. If you'd lose money during the war it 
didn't matter because you were in an enormous tax bracket anyway. 



87 



Gump: Your taxes in those days let's say you made $100,000. You only 
kept about $15,000. There was an 85% tax on your profits, not to 
say anything about the duty on the stuff. 

But it added quite a flair to the store. I remember I fixed 
sort of a tent effect, with stripes I had to go to Stewart & Co. 
where they had all the tents. 

Riess: Was there already a Mexican population in the city? 

Gump: That didn't mean anything. 

Riess: The whole Mexican look was unknown to people? 

Gump: It wasn't a Mexican look. Call it a Latin American look. It's the 
local crafts being readapted to our way of living and our way of 
looking. That's a good quote. I should have thought of that when 
I was writing Good Taste Costs No More. 

[Added later] Speaking of not using local designs, such as a 
Mexican peon asleep or hauling a burro, this sort of stuff was used 
on the tin trays, and the tourists bought them, the local color 
reminded them of their little trip to Mexico, but like the 
placemats, you wanted what would look nice on a festive board on the 
other side of the Rio Grande. So I eliminated the sleeping peon 
design on the tin trays and just used a cross-hatching every half 
inch. These could be used anywhere. I even use these trays in my 
place in Florence! I'm sure you've seen them. 

The big job of the buyer, no matter where he is, is to ask 
himself the question, "How would this look at home?" Nine- tenths of 
local designs are nice to remind one of faraway Patagonia but look 
awful with our decor. [End of addition] 



Inventors and Repeaters 



Gump: You know, I found one of the biggest mistakes in merchandising is 
that buyers don't live the life of what they sell. They don't 
understand its final use. The guy's a china expert yet he uses a 
butter plate for dessert because he likes it that way. Yes, but 
does he think about how you might set a table? You get somebody who 
did that, he probably would be a lousy merchant, he's so artistic. 
You've got that clash of the imaginative mind and the plain-thinking 
mind. Usually the plain thinker is an exception if he's got an 
imagination, and if he has imagination and watches his stock and all 
that, there's a good merchandiser. But it's very seldom you get 
that combination. 



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88 



Riess : But you 1 re that combination. 

Gump: Ed Schwarz of Amos Parrish the company who put us back on our feet 
after the war. after my father died in 1947 this one guy, Ed 
Schwarz, a very bright guy, he said, "You'll find there are two 
kinds of people in merchandising." He was also an advisor to Hall 
of Hallmark Cards, and all kinds of big outfits.* He did some 
redesigning for Lord and Taylor and a lot of places like that. I 
think he did some designing or redesigning for Altman's. I don't 
know. They were doing a lot of this work. 

When my father died we were left in a terrible state. All I 
could think of was the inheritance taxes and how we could handle it. 
That was when I had the Amos Parrish people come in who were 
supposed to be experts on how to run a place, you know. And I said, 
"Now, the first thing I want to know is who should run this place? 
If you don't think I'm capable to run it, please tell me, because 
that's my job. I inherited this problem. And if you think somebody 
else should be running the place, please tell me. There's no sense 
in putting everything on the shoulders of me if I'm not the right 
person for running the store, because that means that the whole 
place will go down the drain." 

The Amos Parrish people said, "No, you're the right person to 
run this place." (Of course, that didn't help Mr. Rosenblatt. He 
thought he was going to run the place. He and his brother Albert 
came to the store right after the First World War and they were both 
there for a while. Then Albert left and went into another business. 
The funny thing is he would have been marvelous in that store. And 
the one who stayed there just didn't have the imagination.) 

Anyway, Ed Schwarz said, "There are two types. There are the 
inventors and the repeaters. You'll never get an inventor who 
repeats. He wants to go into something new." 



* [Added later] Edward Schwarz was an executive vice president of 
Amos Parrish fie Co., Inc. of New York who were hired to analyze 
Gump's operations 1950-1951. Their extensive report was submitted 
July 13, 1950 to all Gump's executives at the Clift Hotel. They 
later handled liquidation of the Honolulu store, March 22, 1951. 
This, of course, was after A. L. Gump's death. President Richard 
Gump had heard about the work of Amos Parrish & Co., Inc. from 
Executive Vice- President Clayre Von Gunten and through Vice- 
President Martin Rosenblatt's contact, Mr. Hirschf elder, at 
Capwell's who had used Amos Parrish & Co., Inc. services for a shoe 
situation. 



89 



Gump: That's the way the book business is handled. "What's the latest 
book?" "Have you still got [H. G.] Wells' history of the world?" 
"Oh no, we sold that long ago." "Did you ever think that maybe 
somebody would want to read Wells' history of the world, or [H. W.] 
Van Loon's history of the world?" "Well, that came out forty or 
fifty years ago. We don't want that. We've got a new one, it's a 
wonderful viewpoint about the history of the world." "Well, does 
everybody know about it?" "No." "Then why don't you promote those 
that sell?" 

I told you once before this motto that they had: "Promote 
most what sells best." But in the record business and in the book 
business they promote most which is the latest, period. That's all. 
I don't know if I mentioned that before. 

I've observed it, there are people like that, even people 
working for me. They're either repeaters or they're inventors. 
This advice was very valuable. After Ed Schwarz told me that, I 
never expected a guy who was a good repeater, a good merchandiser, 
to come up with a lot of brilliant ideas on merchandise. No more 
than I figured some guys had figured out some new type of table or 
chair. 



Eleanor Forbes 



Gump: Like Eleanor Forbes. She designed a loveseat that she only put in 
her own place. She was doing some designing, and working for 
McGuire at that time. And before she did some designing for McGuire 
she was doing some work for Ben Davis. She had this sort of like a 
couch. A daybed is what it was, and it was flat. But she had a way 
of doing it so there was a slight slant when you were sitting on it. 
See, there's no slant on that couch there. She fixed it so there 
was a slight slant. It was very easy to change. So it's not that 
flat thing which people have all over now. 

I said, "Why don't you sell them on the idea?" "Oh, I don't 
think they'd bother with it." She was absolutely zero when it came 
to merchandising, but she had very good ideas. A very conscientious 
designer. 

Riess: I thought she did all of her work for you? 

Gump: No, I gave her permission to work on the side for Ben Davis, who 

used to be in our decorating department. He's a very fine designer. 
I still see him every once in a while when he happens to be here. 
He's up in Seattle. He came from Seattle originally. 



90 

Riess : What was Eleanor Forbes 's relationship to Gump's? 

Gump: In the beginning she did all kinds of painting of lampshades, under 
Judson Allen, who was the head designer of the European section. 
Because Liljestrom was the Oriental designer. Of course, each one 
of them said the other guy was wrong in what he was doing. They had 
two viewpoints. 

Riess: She originally was with the European section? 

Gump: Yes, in that department. But she was always nuts about, fascinated 
over Oriental stuff. 

Riess: So what did she do after she worked for Judson Allen doing the 
lampshades? 

Gump: She was working in the store, doing that in our studio. We had 

three people painting these lampshades. Now I think they're awful. 
Just like the old lampshades, you know, that had beads hanging 
around them, bef ore-the-turn-of-the-century lampshades. 

Riess: What was it about Gump's that gave her the opportunity to develop 
herself? 

Gump: I gave her the opportunity. She did some designing for clients who 
came in and wanted her to design them something. And then Ben Davis 
who had worked with her and who left us to become head of T.A.P.P. & 
Company, he said I remember, I was on my way back from New York, it 
was just during the end of the war he said, "You know, I'd love to 
have Eleanor develop some designs for me." I said, "That sounds all 
right with me. She's not terribly busy now; people are not ordering 
a lot of special work because it's hard to get this work done 
anyway. It's okay with me." 

So people know her, internationally. She got to know all these 
designers. Not all of them in the world, but she got to know quite 
a few. 



Exclusive Relationship with Crafts Artists 



Riess: Did you have a stable of designers who were turning out things 
exclusively for Gump's? 

Gump: We backed a few craftsmen during the war and towards the end of the 
war. Some of them became quite famous. It wasn't our backing, it 
was just giving them a chance to produce, and we would sell it for 
them. 



91 



Riess : So they gave you things on consignment? 

Gump: No. we would say, "How about doing a thing like this?" Like Merlin 
Hardy who did wonderful plates, imaginative plates with Chinese or 
Japanese actors on them, not corny. He was a very good designer. 
We'd put it in the catalog, "Merlin Hardy, Only at Gump's," so that 
people would know you can only get his things there. He did very 
well, I think. 

And then, for instance, I found Marguerite Wildenhain through 
being a judge in Rochester, New York. They specialized in ceramics 
at a particular museum there. So they asked me to be a judge and I 
met a lot of these people. I would buy certain stuff or ask if they 
wanted to show it in my place. 

Riess: Was this during the war? 

Gump: It was towards the end. We can look that up exactly. That's not 
going to be difficult to find; I'll ask Mrs. Graham. 

Are we going into crafts now? 

Riess: I was asking about Eleanor Forbes and how she worked with Gump's, 
and I was trying to generalize from her. 

Gump: No, there's a big difference with her. She was just a young girl 

getting out of the California School of Fine Arts and looking for a 
job, and she painted lampshades. She developed into the head of the 
decorating department. (Interior design is a better word, because 
decorating sounds like you use staples and put some fleur-de-lys on 
the walls.) She became nationally and even internationally famous. 

Riess: I'd like to know the whole sort of set-up of Gump's when you were 
there, how many departments there were, and who was doing what, 
when. 

Gump: I have around here a thing that I have done and gave away to people 
called "This is Gump's."* It tells all about the departments, who 
was in the departments, etc., etc. That's what you want to know. 
You can use that as a guide. 

When we get into Eleanor, you're talking about two different 
things. You're talking about somebody who designed for us who also 
designed for outside people. Twice, I think it was, she went to 
design for T.A.P. P. She also did some designing for McGuire. when 
McGuire was just starting. She got along with Eleanor McGuire, 



*See Appendices 



92 



Gump: who's done a majority of McGuire's designing. She's a marvelous 
designer, and very modest. She's one of these people, she's good 
enough to know she doesn't have to boast.* 



Isamu Noguchi 



Gump: Usually when people boast they're not sure of themselves. There was 
one guy I remember I'll tell you his name afterwards. It was 1954 
and I was traveling with our head of the fashion department, what 
used to be called the Kimono Room. (When the war came along you 
couldn't call it "Kimono," because that's Japanese.) We were 
traveling and I bumped into this guy I'd known from the Islands. He 
said, "That's all right, but look at what I've gotten." He had 
bought this thing, blah, blah, boasting. "Look at me, look at me." 
The last guy in the world you'd think would be boasting, it was 
Isamu Noguchi. I guess he's the exception that proves the rule. 
You'd think he'd be secure within himself; he doesn't have to say 
how good he is, you see. Everybody knew that. 

I got to know him fairly well in the Islands. Then one time 
when I was in New York I went to see him. He was living in 
Greenwich Village, MacDougal Alley. He was sort of lying in bed in 
his place there, indifferent over seeing me, he didn't give a damn 
about me. By that time he had just done the lobby of the Time-Life 
building the small one in the corner of Rockefeller Center, not the 
big one they had later across the avenue there. 

Anyway, he became quite famous. That was a marvelous design. 
It made sense, it was original without being crazy. That's why to 
me this guy is a great designer. Everything I see that is Noguchi 
is an honest design. I've never seen him do gimmicks. There's a 
gimmick designer and there's a functional designer. 

Riess: You think of Noguchi as a designer. I think of Noguchi as a 
sculptor. 



*[Added later] I don't like the idea of Miss Forbes getting quite so 
much credit. The reason I say that is she was unfaithful to Gump's, 
not in a dishonest way, but in a subconscious way. Her work was her 
baby. What happened to Gump's was secondary. When we had the awful 
fire in 1968 she just didn't cooperate; where everybody else did 
their best in collaboration and it worked out very well, she did 
nothing except think about her own job. She was so adamant about 
keeping her spot, and I resented that, particularly because I helped 
build her up in the first place. 



93 



Gump: Well, sure, he's both. Paul Manship is definitely a sculptor; I 
d;n't think he ever did anything for interiors. 

Riess: I didn't know about Noguchi's doing things for interiors other than 
lamps. 

Gump: Well, he's done all kinds of things. But he used that sort of 
undulating form on the ceiling of the Time-Life building. I 
remember seeing it and it was terrific. Then I found out that he 
had done it. Well, I'm talking about one thing that I know that 
expresses more what I admire. An individual with imagination. 

Riess: You carried Noguchi's lamps in the store, didn't you? 

Gump: I guess so. I don't remember. 

Riess: Did you carry any other Noguchi things? 

Gump: We may have. I couldn't answer that. I don't think we ever had a 
show of his at the store, as far as that goes. He had things shown 
at the Museum of Modern Art, naturally. 

Riess: I wondered if you started having his lamps in the store when he was 
relatively undiscovered. 



Gump: Could be. It could have been in the thirties, between 1932 and 



1938, when I wasn't in the store. 



Riess: So Noguchi in the store wasn't your discovery? 

Gump: No, I knew him in the Islands, through a mutual friend. This guy 
was a very good designer, too, this fellow who introduced me to 
Noguchi. 



Gimmicks 



Gump: What drives me crazy there was one guy, a designer who married into 
the Montgomery Ward family. He was doing some designing for them 
and he had to make a water pitcher. It was on an angle I'd give 
you a sketch, but that won't be any good for the book it just was 
on an angle. And that was gimmicky, it was different, see. Why 
turn the pitcher so it sloped? It made the water come out quicker? 
I don't know, it's been able to come out for quite a few millennia, 
I think, without changing the angle. No, it's like he tipped the 
glass and got it hot and pushed it so it bent over. But there's no 
point in that. That's what I call gimmicky. 



94 



Gump: Frank Lloyd Wright did some gimmicks, too. He's a lousy furniture 
designer, and I told him so. 

Riess: Did you carry any of his furniture? 

Gump: No, nobody did. He usually designed the stuff for the houses he had 
built. Did I tell you the famous Frank Lloyd Wright story? This 
guy asked Frank Lloyd Wright to do him a house. So Wright did the 
whole thing the way he wanted. The brother of the owner of the 
house came in and he said, "Well geez, this looks very nice. I 
didn't recognize Frank Lloyd Wright in all of the design and 
everything. It's wonderful. How does it work?" The owner said, 
"Well, it works fine, except there's one place where all the alleys 
up in the roof come together and the water leaks through right in 
the center of the living room. We can't figure out how to fix it." 
The brother of the owner said, "Well, I'll tell you what's wrong, 
that's what you get for putting a work of art out in the rain." 
[chuckles] 

Well, it's always good when somebody tells some crazy story! 
For instance, getting back on the Jewish subject, this fellow who's 
quite a merchant and everything else, an entrepreneur, a very 
brilliant guy, he even passed an ex for getting into Annapolis just 
because he wanted to prove he didn't need the college board, he 
would pass it. He studied like hell and his father said, "What are 
you going to do?" He said, "I'm going to Annapolis." And his father 
said, "Well, you have to go two more years. You've only been in 
high school two years." He said, "No, I've already passed the 
exesl" His father didn't even know he was working on that. 

But the reason I'm mentioning him is that my brother and he 
were quite friendly, and he said, "For god's sake, how is it you're 
always talking about this Jewish business when I'm talking to you. 
Dick never talks about being Jewish." And my brother says, "He 
doesn't know he's Jewish." [chuckles] He said it as a wisecrack; 
rather than say, "He doesn't think he is," he would say, "He doesn't 
know he's Jewish. So why would he talk about it." 

The reason I bring that up is because there can be some funny 
stories about people, and that's a good one. Of course, when I'm 
lecturing the public I don't bring up the problem of my inheritage. 
Should it be inheritage or heritage? 



95 

The Discovery Shop 

Riess: I want to pick up another loose end that you mentioned earlier. You 
said that your father had a lot of doubts about the Mexican venture. 

Gump: Well, no. people threw doubts in his ear, or mine, whatever you want 
to call it, because they were so afraid that I was going to be head 
of the company someday if my stuff got any recognition. And it was 
damned good. I hired a woman who knew all about planning and 
arranging tables and all that stuff. She did very well. We had a 
show of these tables in the Discovery Shop, which is what we called 
that section. It's a good name, I think. 

Riess: It is. That was your baby? When you came back to the store in 
1941? 

Gump: No, I got most of my stuff for the Discovery Shop on my first trip 
down to Mexico. 

It was 1942 and I remember the date because I was in a town 
that was right between Mexico City and Puebla. There was a big 
parade and I said to the fellow driving the car, "What's this big 
parade about?" He said, "We just declared war on Germany." That 
was the middle of May of '42. It took them almost six months after 
Pearl Harbor to decide the Germans were their enemy. Although the 
Germans had a pretty strong guy in the Mexican government. 

We did a lot of glass then too. I must tell you a funny story 
about the glass. When I bumped into this fellow I was telling you 
about [p. 86] who used the same stuff from Toluca, the matting, he 
said, "I've got glassware to go with the yellow, but that darned 
yellow, I can't get the material, it's forbidden." I said, "Okay, 
then forget the yellow glass." "It's beautiful-looking," he said, 
"It's terrific, going with the yellow mats. But I can't get it." 
We found out after the war that the basic color in the glass was 
uranium. Uranium 235 or something like that. And, of course, it 
was tied up, they didn't want anybody to send uranium down to 
Mexico. Nobody knew what it was about. He didn't know what it was 
about; I didn't know what it was about. I said, "Oh, it's some 
stupid rule that you can't. They won't send that to Mexico for 
their color." 

Riess: That's interesting. 

Gump: Yes, it's a very interesting story. But we finally did and if you 

see the brilliant yellow in Mexican glass, you'll know that it might 
have been a bomb. A good title for a chapter. [laughter] 

Riess: Yes, "Might Have Been a Bomb." 



96 



Gump: But some of the other stuff that I designed really bombed! 

Riess: When you had the concept of the Discovery Shop did you have to clear 
away a whole other department? 

Gump: One section we cleared out. One of the assistant buyers thought he 
was going to get it, but I said, "He doesn't know what he wants to 
do with it, but I know what I'd like to do with it. I'd like to put 
this Mexican stuff in there." So we made it look like a big tent. 

Riess: Did people see it first off when they came into the store? 

Gump: Oh, no, it couldn't be. It was up on what we call our second floor, 
but in those days we called it the mezzanine. I decided to change 
that name. 



On the Mezzanine 



Gump: My father was worried to death when the china and glass were moved 
up there. And there was a lot of traffic that used to go in there. 
I figured out I didn't know these words, but I found out it wasn't 
impulse buying for china and glass. You come in for that. And the 
same thing with silver, particularly. I would say that 50 percent 
of our sales were bridal gifts and stuff like that. So it's not an 
impulse thing. I would show them a certain pattern, that may be an 
impulse, but they go in there. "Where is the china? It used to be 
on the first floor." My father was worried to death about moving it 
up. He kept asking his secretary, because he couldn't see very 
well, where it was. 

I* 

Gump: The Silver Department wouldn't move upstairs. The guy who was in 
charge of that said, "The silver has to be on the main floor." I 
said, "You're thinking of silver in places like Peacock's of Chicago 
and Altman's, where it is associated with jewelry. But it isn't 
with us." He had this enormous section on the main floor and we 
moved it upstairs where there was more room and more coordination 
with china and glass, which naturally goes on the table. 

He had worked for us for years but I had to let him go in the 
middle fifties. He had written a letter to a manufacturer saying, 
"Mr. Gump believes in that but I'm sorry, I don't agree with him." 
I had a copy of the letter. I said, "Did you write this?" He and I 
had been very friendly for years. I traveled with him. In fact, he 
took a special trip down to Mexico in '43 to develop some stuff down 
there. Hn said, "Yes." I said, "You mean, in other words, you 
don't agree with me on this?" He said, "No, I don't agree with 



97 



Gump: you." I said, "Well, then, you don't work for me. You can't work 

'or a guy that you don' i: believe in." I won't go into details, but 
he was telling a manufacturer he didn't agree with me. Well, that's 
an awful thing. 

Riess: It undermines the whole institution. 

Gump: Well, it's bad that way, and also in the trade. He writes a letter, 
if I still keep him on they figure maybe he knows where the body's 
buried or something. 

So after that we moved the silver up, all the cases and 
everything, and it all worked out beautifully. 

Riess: And the Discovery Shop was where? 

Gump: Well, there was no Discovery Shop because the Mexican thing was 

over. After the war there was no reason to have a Discovery Shop. 

We worked on new things coming out of Europe, if possible. 
That's why I have this thing, this Commendatore thing [button in 
lapel] . 

Riess: So that was only about three years or so that there was something 
called the Discovery Shop. 

Gump: Oh, less; two years. 

I don't know why somebody doesn't steal that idea. I'm going 
to ask some top patent attorney, see how I can tie it up. 



1944: Vice-President and General Manager 



Riess: You went ahead with this, even though your father wasn't crazy about 
it. Was he drifting out of control of the store? 

Gump: No. He liked anything he heard about that was very imaginative and 
brought people in the store. He was that type, that any new idea 
he'd go for. 

Riess: In 1944 you were made vice-president and general manager. Did that 
mean that your father had finally turned things over in a major way? 

Gump: Well, what happened, it's very interesting. I went to some people 
as I said before, we had to make sure that I was the proper person 
for running the place because it was this great responsibility. So 
we had a meeting of seven or eight executives. 



98 



Riess: Executives of the store? 

Gump: Yes. Nothing to do with Honolulu, because that was a separate 

entity. And what happened was that somebody brought up something, 
and my father said, "Well, I'll tell you, I'll decide on that when 
I've made up my mind." I said, "You're not deciding anything. I'm 
deciding. I've got the ideas, and I'll tell you what I think. 
Otherwise, what's going to happen when you're not around? 
Somebody's got to be running this place." I said, "You know darned 
well these experts say that I should be running the place. I'm 
general manager now, vice-president, whatever you want to say." 

He said, "Well, I don't know." I was told later he was very 
pleased because I revolted, see, against the father; the old Oedipus 
business. 

Riess: Were the rest of the executives kind of relieved that you were 
really taking hold, do you think? 

Gump: No. They hated it, because they didn't think I knew what I was 
doing. They thought I was too artistic. 

Riess: Was your father's policy to call weekly meetings of the heads of 
departments? 

Gump: No, no. It was his policy to call the wrong person head of the 
wrong department 1 [laughter] 

[Added later] When it was understood I was general manager 
with my father still president, I had a layout, plan, organization 
chart, or what-you-will to show divisions of authority. This was a 
tough task because the older generations had no concept who ran 
what. The result was Dad would call the wrong people to carry out 
an order. To get various executives to work according to my plan 
was very difficult. They never worked according to any plan, and 
the worst person to get things mixed up was my father. But this old 
dog eventually learned new tricks because I would stop him or the 
wrong person he called whenever this came to my attention. 
Eventually folks knew who they were and what command they rode. 
[End of addition] 



Psychiatrist's Advice 



Gump: I went to see a psychiatrist at the time I was taking over as 

general manager. I told him I was getting these headaches this is 
a case of a psychiatrist helping and he put on an accent and he 
said, "Why can't you tell your father what no do?" and banged the 
desk. "You have to tell him what to do." What happened was he 



99 



Gump: forced me to grow up, that's all. I took over. I know my father 
felt relieved. I said to him. "Yea have to work through me," and 
after that he relaxed and he wasn't such a martinet. I was told 
afterwards by his secretary, he was very pleased that I revolted. 
That psychiatrist actually changed Gump's. 

Riess: Did you go to the psychiatrist because of the headaches? 

Gump: Yes, because of the headaches, and I wasn't getting any place with 
this, that, and the other. I just felt lost. I can't remember 
exactly why. I was happily married at the time, I thought. It had 
nothing to do with my marriage. (It could have been my mother-in- 
law, but it wasn't that. Because the only cure for that would have 
been to shoot her, but I didn't want to go to San Quentin.) 

Riess: Did you go through a complete analysis? 

Gump: No, no, I only had six or eight visits, that's all. But he knew 
right away what was wrong, that I just had to revolt. My brother 
tried it all the time, but well, he came back to the store from 
being in the army and geez, I came in the office one time and he was 
screaming at my father. I couldn't understand it. Here's this old 
man it wasn't a question of it being your father, it was a question 
of this old man, and he was screaming at him. I couldn't take it; I 
left the office. He had no control over himself. 



A. L. Gump in Retrospect 

Riess: I asked you when we talked about your mother's death what you felt 

her influence was. What do you say about your father's influence on 
you, in retrospect? 

Gump: Well, his influence on me was that I treated people just the 

opposite of the way he treated them. In other words, I didn't 
follow in his footsteps, from the point of view of mood or command 
or whatever you want to call it. My idea of commanding was to give 
an order clearly. Then if they didn't want to do it I'd raise hell. 
If they would give me a reason why it didn't work that was enough. 
But he just used to raise hell with people. At times I probably 
should have been tougher. But it was a holdover from him, knowing 
how people suffered when he would blow his top. 

I remember one time a very prominent woman was in the 
decorating department. This one salesman came into the design place 
with tears in his eyes. He said, "Goddammit, if your father wasn't 
so poor-sighted I would have knocked the hell out of him," or words 
to that effect. I'll never forget that. The woman had a lot of 
money, but she was just looking for something that we didn't have. 



100 



Gump: And my father said, "You're a lousy salesman! Couldn't you sell her 
anything?" You know, that attitude instead of service, it's just a 
question of having a person in your spiderweb. And you're not 
taking advantage of the fact that you've got them in your web, to 
get a few bucks out of them. That's putting it very crudely, but 
that's the way it was. 

But on the other hand, he had such imagination, and he had a 
marvelous voice, which I've said before. I never tried to copy him. 
My brother went to pieces because he unfortunately tried to be 
another A. L. Gump, which was pretty impossible considering his 
individual character. Almost anybody who met him thought he had a 
marvelous personality. [Robert Gump resigned from the store August 
31. 1948.] 

Riess: It sounds like you and your father had very different attitudes 
about money. 

Gump: Yes. 

Riess: Was it the game of making every last buck? 

Gump: Yes, I think that combined with something with imagination working. 
The bottom line business I'm so used to that expression, the bottom 
line, but he really lived for the bottom line. I lived to see the 
thing presented a beautiful mixed metaphor. 

Riess: Well, you were interested in the means and he was interested in the 
end. 

Gump: Yes, I could see something being developed a certain way. A lot of 

my things were awful flops. I think you read some of that in the book. 

Riess: You said your father didn't have regular meetings with the 
executives at Gump's. Did you establish that? 

Gump: Oh, yes, you have to. An amazing story getting back to this 

particular meeting where we discussed moving the china and glass up 
to what we called the mezzanine, which is now the second floor. I 
remember he said, "Well, let's have a vote on that." We went around 
and everybody voted, and finally the head of the Silver Department 
said, "I'm for it, Mr. Gump." He said, "Okay, that makes one more. 
The majority wins, so we'll move it up." I said, "Well, don't 
worry. I've designed it so we can move it back if it doesn't work." 
But the last guy who said to move it was the guy I couldn't get to move 
until he finally left the placet I don't like to belittle the guy; 
he and I were very good friends. But I never heard from him. 

I boast that I've always been friends with people after I've 
fired them except for this one juy, after I fired him. This might 
be valuable in there some place. When you fire somebody, you should 



101 



Gump: give a reason: they haven't carried out a policy of yours, they 

haven't done something you've asked them to CD, something like that. 
I remember telling executives, I said, "Don't give an order without 
giving a reason." If you give an order without a reason to people, 
they just figure, "Well, he thinks I'm an idiot. I didn't know why 
he wanted such-and-such." Certain executives just can't give a 
reason, because they've never thought that much. 

Have you read, Good Taste Costs No More? You have the book, 
don't you? 

Riess: Yes. 

Gump: In that I talk about tricks of the trade. I talk about a lot of 
that stuff. 



Period Furniture. Sources and Profits 



Gump: One thing that happened my wife [Agnes] and I were driving through 
England the summer of 1954. We went to see a cousin of hers who 
lived in Kent. After we left her cousin's place we went to 
stop in an inn right near there. It was a wonderful place, and 
outside there was an antique shop. I looked at the prices and I 
said, "Geez, this isn't bad. I thought these things were much more 
expensive." It got me interested. 

Then when the stuff came in and was on the floor Miss Forbes 
didn't like it. She had forgotten all about periods, although 
earlier she did work on period stuff, but by then she was completely 
modern and dedicated to Japanese or Chinese. I remember one time 
she said, "Look at this." It was a chair, and the arm or something 
had fallen off. She said, "That's a fine thing for us to sell! 
It's lucky I saw that." I said, "Oh, we'll fix that." Actually, I 
thought "Get the hell out of here if you don't like it," because we 
made a pile of dough on that stuff. 

Some Windsor chairs, for example, that I bought originally for 
five or six pounds, now you can't buy the same chair for five or six 
hundred pounds. It's gone up so much in value. I think I mentioned 
getting this oak stuff, and the dealer said, "You don't want oak." 
Because he always associated oak with big halls. 

I was told by this guy who left the store for reasons I 
mentioned earlier that you can't buy antique silver in England. But 
the pot I showed you, the one with the back handle, I'll tell you 
exactly what I paid for it. It was $2,800 a thousand pounds with 



102 



Gump: the pound at $2.80. I've checked around, and today it's worth at 
least $20,000-$25,000. It's silver. If we held those things long 
enough, they'd go up that much in value. 

But you can't have profit unless you turn merchandise over. 
But that's another story, because there are two types of minds, you 
see. There's a mind that says you've got to have a quick turnover 
and we get the profit; we get the 5 percent profit, and it keeps 
turning over. They don't think about all the energy that goes into 
doing that. It's so much easier to sell one thing that you mark up 
five times. Maybe you've held it for two years but you've still 
only got one transaction to sweat over. 

Riess: At Gump's you were able to manage to do both? 

Gump: It was a balancing act; it was very difficult. 

Riess: Would Miss Forbes have had the whole store go modern? 

Gump: Not necessarily that. 

I'll show you an article of mine called "Time for Taste." Did 
you see that one? 

Riess: Yes. That was the one that was in the Retailing Home Furnishings?* 
Gump: Well, you see, I was all hot for modern, too. 

I'll tell you what was so bad what was being done then by the 
factories they didn't do any modern. If they did, it was crazy. 
You can see examples in my book. Mostly they made horrible copies 
of period stuff, so-called. I show some grandfather clocks that 
are a perfect example of some of the awful-looking things. With a 
little copying of antique grandfather clocks, doing them properly or 
simplifying a bit, they're okay. But no, they have to have these 
the chimes are okay, there's nothing wrong with them, they work 
beautifully and all that but awful looking! 

One reason I was screaming for modern was I had no idea that 
antiques were so inexpensive. I thought they were terrible prices. 
I was thinking of 1930, just after the crash. They were high. I'll 
give you an example. I remember the oak court cupboards. They were 
early 17th century Jacobean, and properly done. When I was there in 
1930 when the pound was $5, they were 300 to 500 pounds. 



*See Appendices 



103 



Gump: When I went back people were associating oak with manor houses, with 
beams and all that stuff. They lidn't realize it lookeil very good 
in a Kennedy Cape Cod- type place. That's the advantage I had with a 
lot of buyers and antique dealers; I knew how to coordinate things. 
I don't say that boastfully; it's because I always was interested in 
design and having things that look well together. So I bought tons 
of oak. The dealers wondered why. They just hadn't thought of it. 
You see, colonial was going up and it was expensive as hell. It's 
still high. 



I know where all this stuff comes from. A good example of 
where they come from is Dublin, the 18th century houses. When I say 
18th century I mean from the start of the classic period, of, say, 
1750 to about the end of the Regency, 1820. That whole period. 
Figure about four or five square miles of houses all done in the 
same period. You can go there and see them all, they haven't 
changed. Some of them are dives now, with these wonderful Adam 
entrances, all filthy and dirty and ugly. Because they were all 
done at the same time. Let's put the estimate low, let's say there 
are at least twenty of those houses to a block, whatever a block 
usually is. You have to imagine size. Say a block of 100 x 100 
yards, something like that. I don't know. That's the way Dublin 
is; I didn't get out with a ruler and measure it. 

On top of that you figure every room was done in the same 
period, late 18th century, early 19th maybe a little later 19th, 
early Victorian and you multiply that. And you figure in 
pestilence and war so let's say you only have 10 percent left. 
You've got thousands and thousands of authentic pieces of furniturel 
And what they didn't have, they'd "marry" them, what they call 
"marrying" them. They'd find a base that was good and a top that 
fitted, and they'd put them together. 

I have one piece that Paul Faria who was a friend of mine in 
the decorating department, a very good designer he pointed out to 
me that was a married piece. It's one of those little taborets in 
the room next door. So that's where a lot of these things came 
from. 

I remember the first time I was in York there was a dealer 
there, he had a bunch of Staffordshire dogs. When I say a bunch, 
I'm talking about pairs. He must have had a hundred pairs of 
Staffordshire dogs, and they were about a pound to a pound and a 
half a pair. The whole floor was covered with these dogs. So I 
bought about four or five pairs of them. Of course they sold 
immediately! They were authentic; they came in as antique. I wish 
I'd bought them all I 



104 



Riess : Hew did you decide how much to sell them for? 

Gump: Well, packing and all that is not cheap. It doubles by the time 

they arrive back in San Francisco. So if they were a pound a pair, 
with a pound being about $2.80, call it $6.00 by the time they get 
here. So we marked them at $20 or $25 a pair. We made four times 
our investment. If I had a hundred, just think of all the dough I 
would have made. I should have bought the whole lot, boom. But I 
didn't. 

Riess: How do you figure out what the traffic will bear? 

Gump: That's the thing. You figure out what the traffic will bear. If 
it's too high, then you lower it. 



Return to Carcassone 



[Dictated by Mr. Gump from Florence, Italy, March 1988] 

Gump: I'm preparing to tell a few stories about buying antiques, and I 

probably should have some music in the background to give the proper 
atmosphere. Oh, that is an idea. I think that people, if they buy 
a Louis XV chair, maybe they should have some music by Lully coming 
out of the chair. Nobody's ever thought of that. Well, I won't do 
that right now; that's for the future. People learn all about music 
and they learn about period furniture at the same time. That would 
really be a new idea. Might work out well. 

To prove it can be done, I'll play a simple little 18th century 
type of number that would go with an 18th century interior. 
Something like a "Minuet by Gump." It will be very short. [plays 
minuet on the piano] 

There's your "Minuet by Gump" to go with maybe, I guess it's 
probably Louis XVI furniture, [mimicking French accent] Transition 
between the Louis XV and Louis XVI. 

I mentioned something about "transition." I have to go farther 
back than the transition period between Louis XVI and Louis XV, to 
go back to the Regence. Many people confuse Regence with regency. 
Regence is at the end of the time of Louis XIV, when his great- 
grandson, who became Louis XV, was only five years old, as I 
remember it. Of course he had a regency running the government at 
the time, and it was called "le regence" in French. And it's very 
often confused with the regency when George III of England became 
ga-ga, goofy, whatever you want to call it, around 1800. The whole 
time he was more or less locked up, between 1800 and 1820, was the 
Regency in England, But I'm going back now to the Regence in France. 



105 



I was on a trip buying antique furniture and I was in the great 
city of Carcassonne, a medieval city rebuilt in the 19th century bj 
Viollet-le-Duc, the great historian and expert on medieval modes, 
manners, architecture, et cetera. There were two bergeres, rather 
large, and a canape. Not a canape you would have with a cocktail, 
but a canape meaning a sort of a sofa. This was a set of three, a 
Regence set. "Oh," I thought, "that's very nice." And I bought 
that. That was in the year 1930. 

I didn't go to Carcassonne for twenty-nine years. But in 1959 
I went back to the same antique place, right in the middle of the 
great walled city of Carcassonne in southern France, and there was 
an older lady there. And I said to her, "You know, I was here back 
in 1930. There was a young girl, she must have been around eight or 
nine years old. Where is she now?" This lady says to me, "I'm the 
young girl you're talking about." And more amazing is the fact that 
she looked at my card and said, "Oh yes, I remember you now. That 
was right, that was 1930. You bought two little armchairs, heavy 
stuffed armchairs, and a couch; Regence." Imagine that! A memory 
like that! Twenty-nine years later, after having been all through 
the Second World War and the whole business. 



Fakes 



Talking about Louis XIV and Louis XV, some people listen to 
those names and they think I'm talking about some bellboy in a hotel 
in New York or something. But Regence is early 18th century. And 
in the 18th century, we'll jump across their channel and tell a very 
interesting story about some English chairs. 

It happened to be that two very good friends of mine who were 
English, and I, we spent quite a lot of time in Paris. One of these 
fellows had a beautiful Chippendale-type chair, absolutely 
authentic, 18th century. This other Englishman and I knew that 
there was a fake-maker in France who could copy anything. Well, 
this friend of ours was ill, was at home, so I said to Arthur Tite, 
this friend of mine who was there, "What do you say we make a set 
of chairs like the one he has?" 

Well, to make this story as short as possible, this fake-maker 
made the four chairs. And it wasn't easy because it was saddle 
seats, an English type of leather, English finishing, it wasn't 
French. He was a famous French fake-maker; in fact, world famous. 
When they arrived in our office, the five chairs, I said to this 
friend of mine, Arthur, "My god, how are we going to know which is 
his?!" He and I, as well as the Douzieme Bureau or Scotland Yard or 



106 



whatever you wished to call it, examined those chairs to see if 
there was any way we could find out which was fake or which was the 
real thing. We were in an awful sweat. 

When Roddy Waugh, our friend, the owner of the one chair, came 
back from his illness he said, "Oh, what did you do here?" We said, 
"Well, we thought it was such a beautiful model we thought we'd make 
a set of four chairs to go around a bridge table," or something like 
that. He said, "Well, that's just great. Now what?" So we didn't 
know what to do. He said, "Well, let me see if I can find what the 
original was." I said, "I doubt if you'll be able to find it, 
because we inspected very closely." He said, "I remember one mark 
my uncle put underneath a certain spot on the original chair. I'll 
look to see if I can find it." Then we went through the five chairs 
and he did find the one original. 

That shows you how you can be fooled. This was fooling myself, 
and I was pretty good at that time on antiques. And pretty good at 
that time also was my friend who was brought up with antiques. He 
was a relative of one of the Rothschilds. So you see, even the best 
of them can be fooled on mid-1 8th century England. 

Many private collectors and dealers in antiques, they're 
looking all over the place for something that they can make a dollar 
or a mark or two on. But they really seldom know where these things 
come from. Of course, a lot of them are authentic; there's no 
question about that. They can't all be fakes. 

There's one great story about my mother and father on their 
first trip to Europe together in 1912, I think it was. My father 
had heard about a French porcelain maker who made wonderful copies 
of Oriental porcelain, particularly of the 18th century and what 
they called the "Five-color pieces." Famille vert. And my father 
said, "Oh, I hear that these are wonderful. Let me see." The 
porcelain maker said [mimicking French accent], "I have fooled 
everybody there is. Everybody has been fooled by these copies." 
And my father said, "Well, that's fine. Let me see if I can tell 
the difference. I'll tell you what would be fair. I notice you 
have a big table here in this room. Why not take some of your real 
stuff and some of your copies and put them all out on the table 
there and see if I can tell the difference." 

That would be fair," he said, "I will bet you cent Louis 
d'or." A hundred Louis d'or. 

My father said, "No, I won't bet you. But let's just see," 

All right. So they didn't bet. I understand my mother told 
me this story. There must have been at least twenty pieces put out, 
of that period. That means late 17th century, like K'ang Hsi ard 



107 



18th century, Ch'ien Lung, et cetera, were put out there. (And 
that's before there was this big fashion about tomb figures!) So 
this manufacturer said, "Let's see what you can do. Monsieur Gump." 
My father went right through saying, "This is a fake, this is an 
imitation, this is a fake." The man almost fainted on the floor, 
literally. He said, "I don't understand. You are the first person 
to tell the difference. What is it?" My father said, "Well, maybe 
I shouldn't tell you how I can tell the difference." "Well, I would 
appreciate you telling me." 

What he did, my father had such a great sense of touch, and his 
sight being so poor, he was able to tell by the weight. And ever 
after that, I think the man who made those fooled everybody, 
including my father. 

This next story I'm going to tell is interesting because it 
contains advice that I gave before to buyers about seek things out, 
look for them. Look for them until you find out or don't find out. 
But at least don't always go the easy roads. That way you get more 
exclusive things, and more interesting. (See p. 124) 

One year in the late twenties when I came here to Florence on a 
buying trip I noticed an awful lot of furniture suddenly showing up 
at this antique dealer's place. It was sort of burled walnut, 
whatever you call it, and it seemed to be all over, at quite a few 
of the dealers. I bought a few pieces because they were very nice- 
looking, but I told my agent, who was like a detective, a 
soothsayer, I said, "We'd better find out what this is all about. 
All this type of furniture can't suddenly show up that never existed 
before in the antique shops." 

Well, to make this story short, he said, "I think I've found 
out where it was made." I said, "You found out where it's made?" 
"Yes." "You mean, they're fake?" "I think these are fake." What 
happened was, we found the source, and it was in the middle of an 
orchard south of Verona. You would never in a hundred years ever 
know that those fakes were made in that area. You could not. We 
drove by this place three times and we finally pinpointed it, took a 
dirty little road, and arrived at this place where they made all 
this burl furniture. And of course it was good-looking. There's 
still a lot of it around. Stands up rather well. Pretty good copy 
of northern Italian, 18th century particularly. Baroque, you might 
call it, or of that type. 

It was amazing, we found it. The only thing, I suddenly said 
to him, "Hey, wait a minutel I think I see the top of a church 
steeple way back there in the middle of that orchard." So we turned 
down and it was there. Maybe the church was put in there for the 
people who did these terrible things against the public. [laughs] 
They could go to church and ask forgiveness for their sins; I don't 



108 



know. It was very deceptive. But it was an example of how you have 
to seek things out. It took us at least two hours to find this 
place in the middle of an orchard. 

Here in Florence and I say here in Florence because I'm 
telling this story in my studio in Florence the Via de Fossi is a 
very well-known street because they've got a great many antique 
dealers along that street, and a lot of very fine stuff. There's 
one guy in there who made it a point to have his place look like a 
mess. Old newspapers, cartons, old junk around. Then the people 
will go in there and say, "Oh, look, look, look what I've found. 
Maybe he doesn't know what he's got. I'll ask him." 

"Where do these come from?" 

"I don't know. An old lady, she bring in and she asks me, I 
give her some money. I keep it." Of course the buyer, whoever it 
is, or the collector, thinks he found a piece of Waterford, thinks 
"Well, I'll buy this one." 

"The same lady, she bring in other pieces. Waterford? I don't 
know if you call it 'Waterford.' The only Ford I know is the 
automobile. I don't know 'Waterford. 1 She's bringing that." 

So this fellow had this old Waterford packed away in junk and 
everything. You would never think it was anything, the place was 
such a mess. He also had other things, like Capodimonte, and all 
kinds of things. 

The thing about that guy was, the buyers are going to "take 
advantage" of him because he'd sell a piece of Waterford, a 
Waterford candlestick, for fifty dollars, which would be cheap as 
dirt at that time, in the twenties. But I know where he had it 
made! It was made in Bohemia. He ordered all that glass made in 
Bohemia and got it all dirty and everything else. And one thing he 
was particularly anxious to get was old newspapers, as old as 
possible, to wrap them in. 

"I have them around here since 1910, "12. I don't know. The 
newspapers say that, see?" Old dirt too, I guess. 

But that was a wonderful example of people taking advantage of 
a guy, and the guy is taking advantage of the people. Cheating the 
cheaters. 

My mother once showed me a Capodimonte box. She said, "This is 
actual Capodimonte." "Oh, is it?" I said. "Let me see." "Yes, the 
man I bought it from is very reliable. I know I can rely on him." 
"Is that so? I'll tell you who made it." "What do you mean, 'who 
made it'?" 



109 



I said, "It was made by Carl Thieme. of Pottschapel. just 
outside of Dresden." He made all kinds of fake porcelain. And ha 
never used the marks that were still running. He used Rockingham 
because that factory was dead in the end of the 18th century. He 
wouldn't use anything like a Wedgwood mark. But any mark at all. 
and particularly Gapodimonte, because that was not in use for a long 
time. And the box that my mother bought actually was made by him. 
I knew the model. So, you see. 

We bought those things, but we'd sell them as new, naturally. 
If you get around buying that sort of stuff, then you know where 
it's made. But if you don't get around and find where the stuff is 
made, I don't see how you'll ever know the genuine from the antique. 
And I say that very proudly because I've had the advantage for years 
of being able to see where all these things are made, and fakes and 
everything else, and their methods of faking. 

I have a little taboret in my living room. It would fool 
anybody in finish. I did it myself, an antique finish. One of my 
assistants, he and I spent a whole day antiquing this brand new oak 
little taboret. Now you add up our hours, how long it took us to 
put that patina on there, and it's cheaper to buy an antique. I 
figured out we must have put in $500 worth of time in making that 
antique. And I can show you in many other things that the real good 
copies of antiques take an awful lot of time. 

The advantage that I had is that I found where all these things 
were made. My mother would say, "Here, look what I just bought in 
Dresden." Or, "Look what I just found in Rotterdam! Now, tell me 
where that was made." [laughs] Eventually she realized I could 
tell her where the stuff was sold as new to us, or where the stuff 
was made. She was always doubtful about my explanations. But it 
was her marvelous imagination and taste, along with Newell's, that 
helped build that store. 

[End dictation from Florence.] 



following p. 109 



Richard Gump, left, and Robert 
Gump, right, with John and 
Hensleigh Wedgwood. Portrait on 
the wall is of Josiah Wedgwood. 



Richard Gump, composing, in 
Honolulu, 1940. 



110 



VI GOOD TASTE 



Richard Gump, Lecturer 



Gump: W. Colston Leigh, my agent, says, "I hate lectures. I never go to 
them. All I need to know is you're a repeater, then I know that 
you're successful." I think that people found my lectures 
fascinating because I throw in a wisecrack every once in a while to 
wake up the old ladies that are falling asleep. And then also I 
gave them viewpoints from the other side of the counter. 

Riess: Why did you want to do the lectures? 
Gump: Damn good publicity. 

I tell people, "I don't lecture, I just chat. Anywhere from 15 
to 4,000, I'm still chatting. I'm not delivering a speech. For 
instance, the Woman's Auxiliary in St. Paul, Minnesota I had as an 
audience. It's supposely the largest woman's audience in the world. 
Over 4,000 people in an auditorium in St. Paul. The only thing I 
did to change was that I realized that my gestures had to be much 
broader from the stage. They gave me a bigger screen. I usually 
carry my own folding screen which is translucent. Then when I 
raised my arm or something like that, I made it more of an exaggerated 
move. I adjusted my speech and action. 



"Jade, Jewels, and Junk" 

Gump: I remember it was Bradley, the head of Accounts Receivable, who was 
there ever since he was a kid at fourteen he finally died after 
working there all this life, see after my father died he said, "You 
ought to get out there on the floor and meet more of the people the 
way your father did." And [Martin] Rosenblatt said that was so, 
too. 



Ill 



Gump: So I said, "Now look." I was in Chicago at the Twentieth Century 

Club, founded by Mrs. Ogden Armour. And I was surrounded by people 
of that ilk, by these top society women. And the fellow who helped 
me put up my screen for the lecture said to me he was an Irishman 
he said [imitating brogue], "You know, I'll tell you, the average 
income here" and this was in 1954 "the average income of these 
ladies is between forty and fifty thousand dollars a year," which 
was quite a bit then. Here I had this audience of three hundred of 
those women for this glorified plug for Gump's. 

My lecture was called "Jade, Jewels, & Junk." Afterwards I sat 
next to the president of this club, the most prominent club in 
Chicago, with the most prominent, wealthy people. And I said, "I 
hope that didn't sound too commercial." "Oh no, Mr. Gump, we 
enjoyed it so much. We got the view from the other side of the 
counter." Which is what I try to do, you see. So I gave them a 
history of the store that way. 

I said to Bradley, this fellow I was talking about, "Look, in 
Chicago I spoke to three hundred of the most important women in 
Chicago in one fell swoop. My father, if he lived to be a thousand, 
couldn't have covered that many people in one shot. So don't tell 
me I should be getting out on the floor." 

Riess: It was a good piece of business to do the lectures. You weren't 
doing it for your own 

Gump: Ego? No. It was good business. 

One time I couldn't make it. It was up in Seattle in a place 
where I had spoken two or three times already, the Seattle Athletic 
dub, where they have a big women's section. Every Saturday morning 
they usually have a lecture. So I said, "Well, I can't make it. 
Maybe Mr. Rosenblatt can." He went to Cal and I knew he had won a 
gold medal in debating. He had a very centurion voice; he spoke 
very well. I wasn't sending up some guy who didn't know how to 
talk. 

When he came back I called them up and asked how it was. They 
said, "Oh, they were wonderful. He and his wife were just 
charming." He said, "Boy, was that a sweat. Now I know what you've 
gone through. I wouldn't want to do it as often as you do." He 
really didn't enjoy it. I enjoyed it. I wouldn't do it otherwise. 

Riess: How much did those lectures increase sales? 

Gump: It's impossible to say. That's a "How high is up?" sort of 

question. The only thing I can tell you is that in my lecture of 
"Jade, Jewels and Junk," which is a history of the store, I showed 
them a picture of the Jade Room. We had two of them. (Now they 
keep them both open, which is stupid as hell. I had one closed.) 






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112 



Gump: And at two or three places where I was talking I said, "When you get 
to San Francisco be sure and ask for the Inner Jade Room. 
Otherwise, they won't show it to you. It's where we lead the very 
important people. And you're all important people, you've grown in 
importance because you've been listening to Richard Gump." I would 
go on a lot of gags like that. 

I meant to go up to the Oriental Department and ask them how 
many people ask to go into the Jade Room. Mrs. Graham said, "Oh, 
that's where it came from. We were wondering about all these people 
who ask to see the Inner Jade Room." It showed that the traffic was 
built just like that. I didn't realize it was that close.* 

You mentioned Stanley Marcus and his book what the others 
said, "You care enough to charge the very most," that ought to be 
for Stanley Marcus. I've known him for years, you see, though I 
never got to know him very well because I never asked him for dinner 
here or when I was in Sausalito. He asked me how did we happen to 
have this book, Gump's Treasure Trade. I said, "They asked for it." 
And the guy he [Marcus] got to write his book asked me about it. I 
said, "Well, they just asked for it. That's all I can tell you." I 
guess it's that as a store, we're news. I don't know if we're still 
news. 

Riess: When you wrote articles like the article in Retailing Home 

Furnishings in 1946, was that in response to a request that you 
write something? 

Gump: I've forgotten how that came about. I think I met the editor and I 
told him, "I'd like to write a story. I know you don't care about 
what you print particularly." 

Riess: It was a very provocative article. 
Gump: Yes, it's very what would you call it? 
Riess: Iconoclastic? 

Gump: Yes, exactly. I don't know what the icons were. Well, no, the guys 
who made these horrible copies of period stuff. 



*Between 1952 and 1965 Richard Gump gave 246 lectures. Ninety of 
those lectures were given in 1954 and 1955. 



113 



Marriage to Agnes 

Riess: You have a nice writing style. Was it easy for you to do these 
pieces? 

Gump: Well, my ex-wife wrote rather well, too. She and I worked together 
on a lot of this stuff. She was quite good. Her father, Malcolm 
Eraser, was a great writer too. He was the personal secretary of 
Mayor Rossi. He had a marvelous knowledge of everything; he was a 
brilliant guy. 

Riess: Your wife was from San Francisco? [Agnes Marie Fraser, married in 
1945.] 

Gump: Yes, we were both from here. 

Riess: I've been told you had a wonderful house in San Francisco. 

Gump: That's probably the one in August Alley with the Tommy Church garden 
and everything. I put in a studio at one end. The back end I 
think it was put up by a drunken sea captain, a crazy darned place. 
The two of us bought it as an investment. I spent quite a bit of 
dough to fix it up. It was a very charming place and Tommy did a 
wonderful job on the garden. 

Riess: Where is August Alley? 

Gump: Between Union and Green and Powell and Mason, a little alley there. 

Riess: Did you do a lot of entertaining there? 

Gump: Quite a bit, yes. 



Business Friends; Sir John Wedgwood 



Riess: And as a rising executive for Gump's, did you make a point of 
entertaining? 

Gump: Yes, I did quite a bit of that. I did that over in Sausalito before 
we separated, too. I remember an evening with Hensleigh Wedgwood of 
Wedgwood pottery, and his West Coast head of sales, where he and my 
wife entertained each other telling dirty jokes! And I remember the 
executive vice-president of Phelps-Dodge, a man I met on my second 
lecture tour, when I was in Fort Wayne, a hell of a nice guy. He 
put me up in the Chicago Club one time when I was going through 
Chicago and couldn't find a room. It's like the Pacific Union dub 
here. These people, I got to know them in that way. 






114 



Riess: Did you get thrown in with a lot of people that you had to grin and 
bear? How compromised did you have to be in order to 

Gump: I know what you're saying. Did I have to put with a lot of people? 
I didn't put up with too much. 

Riess: You didn't? 

Gump: No, not too much. And this is a good reason to entertain somebody. 
The Wedgwoods I knew because I knew his cousin. Sir John, a very 
amusing guy. Sir John Wedgwood was one of the commandoes who went 
into Norway and broke up the heavy water installations that the 
Germans had going. They were working on the atomic bomb. He was 
one of the commandoes who went through there. 

They were down here in April, I think, one year. They were 
staying at the Highland Inn in Carmel. Hensleigh wakes up and says, 
"God, where's John?" When John came back he said, "Where the hell 
have you been?" He said, "I went up to the top of the mountain and 
then I went down there below and went swimming." You know how rough 
that is? You know, along there where the Highland Inn is? 

Riess: Yes! It's impossiblel 

Gump: He was swimming down there. He said [imitates British accent], 

"It's nothing for a commando. Good Lord, no." It wasn't boastful, 
it's just that he wanted to go for a swim and he didn't realize how 
treacherous that place could be. But then, he would know something 
about currents by looking at the water. That was so funny. Everybody 
asked, "Why did you go in there?" "Oh, it was wonderful. Dashed good." 

Riess: Well, that sounds like one of the bonuses, meeting someone like that. 
But you must have met a lot of irritating, phony, terrible people. 

Gump: Yes, but I tried to adjust to what people liked, and talk about 
baseball, talk about boxing, some broad in the corner of the 
restaurant, something. I can adjust to the company. I didn't do it 
to suffer so much. No, I didn't do that. 

But it was important to you have to realize I got to know 
quite a lot of designers and I enjoyed talking to them about design. 
I gave a couple of guys a big plug when I lectured in Aspen at one 
of the design conferences. That was back in '52. I was being 
interviewed by Retailing Home Furnishings and the woman said, "What 
do you mean by manufacturers with conscience? I said, "Well, I'll 
give you an example, Raymore & Company." They manufactured gift 
items, glassware, things of that kind. He, incidentally, was the 
guy about the uranium, you know, the yellow glass. I hadn't seen 
the guy for years, and I was up there in Aspen he wasn't there I 
said, "Well, he's what I call a great manufacturing merchant. He is 



115 



Gump: a good designer himself, and he is conscientious about what he gives 
the public, he doesn't give them just anything. I think he 
inherited the business it was a lot of nothing and then he built 
it up, because he's conscientious. 

I gave him this long plug in Retailing Home Furnishings he was 
almost bowled over. He said, "It's wonderful I" I hadn't seen the 
guy for maybe ten years, I bumped into him, and he said, "Geez, what 
a plug you gave me." I said, "I just used you as an example of what 
I thought was conscientious manufacturing, that's all." 



N. S. I.D. Honoree## 



Gump: I am one of the few people who is an honorary member of the National 
Society of Interior Designers. I know that the Duchess of Windsor 
is one of the few, also, so I am in her class. Although, thank 
goodness, I am able to talk better than she can right now. 

Riess: When did you get elevated into that? 

Gump: I know exactly when it happened. It was in 1966. I was going 

around the world with a buyer for the store, and his wife, and I had 
to leave them in Vienna. From Vienna I went up north to Scandinavia 
and from there went back to England. From England I flew back to 
San Francisco where I was being honored. They were having a 
national conference here. I remember that Vincent Price was the 
principal speaker. I had met him before, he is a very nice guy, he 
really knows his stuff in art because that was his major in college. 

But anyway, getting back to it I know I was one of the few at 
that time. I don't know how many honorary members there are now. 
Why I brought this up, I just got through fixing these paper flowers 
around this living room anybody reading this will think, "Oh, boy, 
he's flipped I Paper flowers!" 

Riess: Please describe this living room. 

Gump: First of all, in here I've got very important Gandhara pieces. 
Gandhara is like the area of Afghanistan today. Kabul was the 
center of the Gandhara culture. The Greeks moved a lot of people 
always think, 'XJo west, young man, go west," but the Greeks moved 
east. As you know, they were in Asia Minor. In fact, some of the 
greatest discoveries of Greek sculpture came from Asia Minor, and 
from the islands in the Aegean. 

But the Greeks kept moving east and they ended up in what is 
now Afghanistan with this culture which is sort of Oriental mixed 
with Greek sculpture. If you'll notice, in almost all of the things 



115a 



San Francisco Chronicle 
May 20, 1966 



'Honesty in Design' 

National Honor for 
S. F/s Richard Gump 



By Wirlinfl Griff 

This late in life Richard 
Gump, San Francisco's low- 
headed arbiter of taste, re 
fuses lo allow the encroach 
ments of renown and awards 
to tame his irreverent opin 
ions. 

The 60-year-old merchant 
of elegance interrupted a 
round-the-world shopping 
spree for his Post street store 
to return to town yesterday 
to accept an honorary mem 
bership in the National Socie 
ty of Interior Designers. 

INTERVIEW 

Gump acknowledged the 
august award presented at 
the group's Fairmont Hotel 
convention with all the vim 
and slapdash of the Gucken- 
heimer-Sour Kraut Band he 
occasionally conducts. 

"The only reason I can af 
ford to stay at the Ritz is be 
cause good taste pays so 
'well," he said during a press 
interview. 

"Honesty in design and liv 
ing, t h a l '$ what I hope 
they're honoring. I've just 
tried to build a better, more 
elegant rat trap, that's all." 

Gump, a painter, author, 
composer, lecturer, decora 
tor as well as store executive 
and oom-pah-pah conductor, 
looks like an amalgam of 
Professor Irwm Corey and 
the Ancient Mariner. 




RICHARD/GUMP 
"Good lute payi well" 

. Brushing 'flecks of cigarette 
ash from a magnificent silk 
en suit, he punned: 

"Ivory league Hong Kong 
copy of a Brooks Brothers.' 
Goes well don't you think' 
with my rust suede shoes." 

.TAHITI ;-' i.. 

And Gump, who alternates 
living styles between "my 
Russian Hill pad and my digs 
in Tahiti." went on seriously: 

"These are times for 
breaking rules, for interest 
ing combinations that require 
true sonhi^tication. A Queen 
.Ann? chest of drawers, for in 
stance placing it against a 
plain modern wall brings out 
its qualities far better than 
us original background." . 



Then, in a Rimbaud-Dylan 
Thomas let's-derange-the- 
senses mood, he added: "Our 
taste needs shaking up some 
times, a kind of adventure 
into the unknown where even 
a meaningful piece of junk 
has its place . . . along with 
the wares from Gump's. 

"Perhaps we should experi 
ment with cook-ins not cook- 
outs. Put sand all over the 
living room. A barbecue in 
the middle of the Persian 
rug. Photomurals of breaking 
waves. Just to relieve the 
boredom of status quo taste." 

VIEWS 

' Other Gump conversation 
pieces: 

"[ abhor conversation 
pieces, expensive gee gaws 
/hat have no, infernal use 
they only lead to conversa 
tions about why they were 
made in the first place." 

"Every time I see an 
otherwise beautiful American 
car like the Continental I 
want to chop its big rear end 
off. The way it makes the car 
sway on curves, the only 
place to drive it is in straight- 
line country like Texas. 

"And while we're talking 
about safety. I wish they'd 
bring back the big flirt-fash 
ioned front bumper and stick 
tire radiator in the back 
where it's a lot safer." 

"We have to thank God 
and the Government in the 
Presidio and Fort Baker for 
what beauty still exists on 
the -.vattrfrorl i're. We've 
done little ourselves com 
pared, say. with the hjrbor 
in Sydney. Australia, where 
the whole thing has been 
landscaped lo look like an 
English garden." 



116 



Gump: you can spot the Greek influence right away. Like in those three 

Buddhas over by the window; that's a good example. This set of four 
bodhisattvas at the other end of the room is quite rare, but I don't 
put them out because they're rare, they're also very good-looking. 
I wouldn't buy anything unless I liked it first of all by its looks. 



Testing the Design Test 



Gump: Everybody who comes in here like a friend of mine I hadn't seen for 
quite a few years, he said, "How old is it?" I said, "How old is 
it? Listen, I'll show you something really old that's very rare." 
"What do you mean?" I said, "Well, look, this is very rare. Nobody 
has anything like it in the world." "What have you got there?" I 
said, "Never mind. It's very old and the materials are rather 
rare." "Well, what is it?!" "It's a rock."* 

As far as I'm concerned the first thing is it has to be good- 
looking. I have that in my book, Good Taste Costs _No More. Of 
course what you might think is good-looking to you personally 
doesn't mean it's good-looking for everybody. But generally it 
works out pretty much that people with so-called "good taste," which 
is very elusive . I worked out a design test because I got so 
disappointed with people in merchandising who had big reputations 
and just had poor taste. 

I had one girl who went east with one of my buyers. When she 
came back I said, "How did you happen to buy this?" She said, 
"Well, she said I ought to buy it." Obviously I would want to get 
rid of her. How could I get rid of her? There wasn't a reason 
because I didn't have any measuring stick to go by. So in 1952 I 
invented the design test. That was used by the University of 
California at Davis; in 1955, they started to use it. Also, General 
Electric used the same thing. 



*About 1946, 1947, two Chinese stone sculptures arrived at Gump's. 
One was antique of the period, the other was new ordered from the 
carver. My father priced the "antique" four times higher than the 
new sculpture. Both Mr. Newell and I thought the authentic old 
piece plain ugly and thought the new carving graceful and flowingly 
beautiful. My father's price was $4,500 for the old and $200 for 
the new. But because of beauty we marked the new one $2,700 and the 
old sculpture $150. 



117 



Gump: I'll tell you briefly what it is. I picked out about 200 pictures 
of all kinds o. : things, rooms, objects, old and modern. When I say 
"modern" I mean modern design, no period influence. All kinds of 
things, even lamps. And the test subjects are supposed to select 
and to say whether they're good or bad. I never found anybody with 
good taste who did badly on the test or anybody with poor taste who 
did well on it. 

I tested it on twenty-five experts when I say experts, people 
who have devoted their lives to design, people who actually are 
design-conscious and always were all their lives. For instance, 
Stanley Marcus is in there as one of the experts. He doesn't know 
that, but I used his opinion of these objects. I had 200 objects, 
and we cut them down so it had to be decisive; out of 25 objects, 
there had to be agreement on 16. It was cut down, finally, to 130 
objects out of 200. All the rest of them weren't decisive enough. 

Riess: You said you tested it on Stanley Marcus? What other people? 

Gump: I had a lot of people. I had important designers who worked for 
Lord and Taylor in New York who actually were designing interiors 
and did all kinds of work of that kind, and I had important 
architects. I think Neutra was one of them, as I remember. 

Riess: You sent it off to them? 

Gump: No, I didn't send it off. I had this test with me when I went to 
Aspen to lecture at the International Design Conference in 1952. 
[Walter] Dorwin league, he was another one there. A very famous 
industrial designer. He used to do all the work for the Ford 
family, personally. I got to know him and Neutra when I spoke in 
Aspen. I tried to be very careful of what I said, and the question 
period was great. I told you Neutra was in the audience and he 
asked me some question. 

Anyway, I invented this thing because I was tired of having 
people come in and say they're good at this, that, and the other. 
They may be all right in merchandising because they follow the rules 
of the Harvard Business School, or whatever it was. They have a 
good reputation as a merchandiser. Well, I wasn't looking for that. 
I wanted somebody who had a feel for merchandising as well as a feel 
for the use of things. 

A lot of people would buy something and they would say, "Well, 
it's a good gift item." I said, "What does that mean? A gift item 
is something you wouldn't buy for yourself, is that it?" Therefore, 
I wouldn't allow that. The thing is, you've got to buy something 
you would want to buy for yourself. It doesn't mean that you have 
to have the same type of let's say it's a 17th century Scottish 



118 



Gump: interior, to make it real complicated. You don't have to look 

around for everything 17th century Scottish for the rumpus room or 
family room. 

Another thing that was very important everybody who came to 
the store and asked for a job, I gave them the test. Even if it was 
down in the basement, no matter what the job was. I discovered two 
excellent people by doing that. The head of personnel pointed out 
to me a young man who had done awfully well on the test. I said, 
"Let me see him." "He's down in the basement, helping with 
Christmas wrapping." I wanted to see him. 

Well, to make a long story short, he became one of our top 
buyers. He now lives in Hong Kong and is one of the experts, one of 
the best American designers in the Orient. Of course, it turned out 
that he had studied at the University of Washington. I'm sorry I 
can't say he studied at Cal. 

Another thing that's very interesting, talking about the 
University of California. This fellow who worked with me, he taught 
psychology, I think it was, at the University of California at 
Davis. He told me that he had all these kids in one class they 
came literally fresh off the farm into Cal, and then they took a 
course in home economics. In that course there was a lady I met 
her and she taught all these girls off the farm, boys too, whatever 
they were, how to set a table and all that, what goes well together. 
They took the test and he said literally, after three semesters, 
they all did 20 percent better. So it shows that that does rub off. 

Now, the experts I used were not people who just happened to 
have good taste. They were people who devoted their lives to 
designing. But we didn't count those; we just counted, as I said, 
the girls off the farm. And they did 20 percent better after three 
semesters of her course. It worked out very well. Scientifically 
it was proved it was a very useful tool for me to find out if 
people had any taste. 



Applying the Design Test 



Gump: When I first started this I had buyers in there . Well, I kept the 
buyers. What are you going to do, kick them out? After they had 
been there two or three years, or maybe some even twenty years, I 
wasn't going to throw them out. But they knew from then on I was 
going to be awfully tough about that. 

And another thing I must emphasize of all the experts, I 
didn't put iryself in there. Becau-e people would say, "Oh, that's 
what Mr. Gump thinks. Well, sure, but I don't agree with him." It 



119 



Gump: was very funny, there was this one guy, I knew he had a wonderful 
ba :kground, I knew all about the guy. When he took the test he 
wanted to know about a lamp, what it was. This person in personnel 
said, "Never mind, just say whether you think it's good or bad 
design. " 

Anyway, I discovered some very good people. One time, one guy 
who was a buyer, he wanted a certain girl to work for him. The girl 
didn't do so well on the test, and he coached her to take the test 
again. Luckily, the head of personnel told me. I not only wouldn't 
allow her in the place, I wouldn't accept her, besides that, I 
canned him. Because that's very unfair to the other people. 

Only Mrs. Graham, who as you know is still my secretary after 
forty-two years, only she and the head of personnel and I knew what 
the results of this test were. Because you couldn't have somebody 
who would say, "I've got better taste than you havel" So talk about 
merchandising that was a tool that was very important. I never 
worried when people who had passed the test went on a buying trip. 

There were certain people who I knew wouldn't do too well. I 
remember one batch of stuff that was brought out of Spain. And if 
this guy had done any reading about design and period stuff, which 
he should have done ! At that time there was a sort of a 
changeover from modern back into period. I've been trying to figure 
out why that change; I can't figure it out. But this guy went to 
Spain and he bought a lot of stuff. I went down to the Receiving 
Department, took a look at it, and I said, "Take this and throw it 
in the garbage. I don't want it around the place. It's bad design 
of Spanish iron." And I knew something about that from my first 
trip to Spain back in 1927. This was around 19A7, I guess. 

Riess : If your employees wanted to learn more, was there a store library? 

Gump: Yes, we had a very big library. But not many of them went to it to 
study. Some of them did, but not many of them were curious enough. 
And it's pretty hard. They knew that I was pretty tough on period 
stuff because I know it pretty well. And it's not because I'm so 
smart, it's just because I've been around it, living in Europe and 
going to these various places, and it rubbed off. I've always loved 
design anyway, as far back as I can remember. 



Matters of Taste 

Riess: Are there pieces in that test that qualify as good taste that you 
really don't like and that I really might not like? 



120 



Gump: Oh yes, sure. Things that personally I didn't like at all, but I 

kept them. I couldn't go by whether I liked something. You see, I 
was very careful about personal likes and dislikes. With some 
people I was more tolerant, probably because we got along well as 
personalities. But that doesn't mean that they keep a job if 
they're absolutely rotten. 

Riess: So that means that there were things that were in the store that you 
might not like also? 

Gump: You mean personally, for my own home? 

Riess: Yes, or even on an absolute basis, but you would ultimately respect 
someone else's decision. 

Gump: Not too much, because it usually worked out that the stuff that 
these people selected would be what I would select. 

That reminds me of being in Dublin buying silver with my silver 
buyer. He learned about silver and got very good at it. Of course, 
he had this one specialty. There was a group of 18th century 
chocolate pots, and I said, "Let's get that." He looked at them and 
he said, "Do you really mean that?" I said, "Yes." It was a lavish 
rococo, a type of thing of the 18th century, authentic. It wasn't 
something that was rehammered in the 19th century, which they did to 
quite a lot of silver, you know, to make it more elaborate. The 
taste was a little bit fluffy is a good word, I guess. 

I said, "Yes, maybe somebody in Texas will come along and buy 
it," proving how much I love Texas. So he said, "Okay." And the 
darned thing all the other ones sold inside of three or four 
months, and that thing hung around the shelves there for three or 
four years. It just didn't sell. That "guy from Texas" didn't come 
in. He probably spent all his money on a heifer of some kind. [laughs] 

Riess: Speaking of the guy from Texas Stanley Marcus, in his book, talking 
about good taste he says, "When we employ buyers we can check their 
records for integrity, but we have to gamble on their taste." 

Gump: Yes, but he knew about this test, and he never used it. 

Riess: He didn't adapt it? 

Gump: I would have been happy to let him use it. 



121 



International Design Conference in Aspen 

Gump: I'll tell you where I did use that. It was a lot of fun. I had a 

special abbreviated list made up of things that I knew were good and 
bad. decisively so.* I used that when I lectured to The Fashion 
Group in New York on "Do Taste Makers Make Trends." [lecture to The 
Fashion Group, Inc., Rockefeller Plaza, Oct. 22. 1959] I was one of 
the principal speakers. I handed out all these lists and I had the 
people check it, good and bad design. They got a big kick out of 
it. I remember the editor of House and Garden was one of the heads 
of that. Anyway, we got a big laugh out of it, because I made fun 
of the whole thing. I didn't take it too seriously. [laughs] 

General Electric used the test. Art BecVar was the head 
designer of major appliances, as they called it. Not dynamos, not 
the big industrial things, but major appliances for the home. 
[BecVar's title was Manager, Appearance Design, Major Appliance 
Division.] And quite a lot of the changes were made in 
refrigerators. I was an influence in that. Later G.E. wrote to 
thank me for my assistance. One thing, I asked them why the curved 
top on refrigerators, it makes a dust area, and they changed it. 

And the funny thing is. Kern Weber, who was a very famous 
designer at the time, he knew Frank Lloyd Wright quite well, they 
were more or less pioneers together, somebody said to him, "That's 
all very well, you can do all this modern stuff, but you don't know 
anything about period stuff." He said, "Oh no? I'll tell you 
what." (He was a German with a slight accent, but he'd lived over 
in this country quite a while.) He said, "I'll show you." And he 
got two pieces of chalk and put a big piece of black paper on the 
wall. And he did a Louis Seize on one with the left hand and a 
Louis Quinze thing with the right hand and said, "Now is that enough 
for you?" 

He said [imitating German accent], "I learned something more 
important than all of that. I learned about woodworking. I know 
which way wood's going to move. And most architects today don't 
know that. That's the honor that I got in Germany, to have this 
Master Craftsman rating." I don't know what the name is in Germany, 
but it's a rating in crafts that you get in Germany. You wouldn't 
have that in this country. In other words "When I design 
something" is what he said, "I make sure I know which way the 
wood's going to move." Nobody now thinks of that because they use 
so much plywood. 



*See Design Test in Appendices. 



122 



Gump: But getting back to him [Kem Weber], he got sore. He said, "Why do 
you go and give General Electric all these ideas? You should have 
charged at least $25,000 or $50,000. It makes it tough for us 
[designers]." I knew him quite well; a wonderful old guy. He lived 
in Santa Barbara. I met him, you see, at this design conference, 
the first one where I was asked to talk up there, by [Walter] 
Paepcke.* You know, they ran this design conference at Aspen every 
year since 1951. 

Riess : Who sponsored it? 

Gump: Paepcke, of the Container Corporation of America, very famous. He 
was responsible for developing the whole thing and putting in the 
theater. 



Serifs 



Gump: He had a very famous German designer [Herbert Bayer]. I bumped into 
this designer the next year I was up there. I said, "You know, what 
you used for lettering isn't good. It doesn't read well." He is 
very famous for this modern lettering, you might say "sans serif." 
A woman who was there, a teacher from a school in Denver, she found 
out that kids learning reading, they could read much quicker with 
serifs on the letters. I told that to a good friend of mine, a 
famous architect from Honolulu, Vladimir Ossipoff, whose daughter 
came to San Francisco to get married. Ossipoff went to school with 
the guy who was in charge of lettering, road signs, et cetera, for 
the State of California in Sacramento. They went to Cal together, 
studying architecture. I met this guy at the wedding and I told him 
about this serif thing. Val Ossipoff said, "Oh, my god! Did you 
start somethingl He kept writing to me all the time. I wish you 
hadn't bumped into him at my daughter's wedding." He tried to put 
over this idea of how much quicker you could read signs if they had 
serifs. They know that. But you see the sans serif all over. 

Somebody told me that originally with the serifs carved in 
stone of course, that's how we know the Roman lettering, from the 
triumphal arches and things of that kind with the sun hitting it, 
you could read it. You see, if they didn't have that bottom on 
there was no way of ending the line. That's what I was told. It 
seems logical to me. I think it was Jim Mcllhenny, he was the vice- 
president in charge of the merchandising end of Macmillan at the 



*In 1952 Richard Gump participated, with R. Buckminster Fuller, 
Alfred A. Knopf, and Walter Dorwin Teague in the Aspen program 
titled "Design as a Function of Management." 




Richard Gump lecturing at 
Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies 
Aspen, Colorado 
June 25, 1952 

on "The Abuse of Design" 



123 



Gump: time, who told me about the shadows [serifs]. It seemed logical to 
me. That's what he learned. He was that type of intelligent, 
intellectual guy. 

I* 



Value of Exclusives 



Gump: One time Mcllhenny was yelling at me, "You're behind in sales!" (He 
was a believer in the old business of needling to get more sales.) 
I said, "Well, I'm not worrying." "How could you not be worrying?" 
he said, "You're behind ten percentl" I said, "In our business, 
maybe a couple of sales and we'll catch up." And this actually 
happened. There was a big sale of a very important piece of 
jewelry, something like $25,000 or $50,000. And also a very fine 
Queen Anne chocolate pot; that was another big sale, $15,000 for 
this. And those two sales just caught us up to the year before. So 
this just shows again, you can't think of turnover all the time. 
Whenever you buy anything that turns over very fast, then you're in 
the rat race. 

I did my best to keep things as exclusive as possible. Not to 
be snooty, but just so that people would say, "Well, the only place 
you can get that is Gump's." We didn't go into the antiques as 
heavily as we used to, but at least we would have something that was 
exclusive, and it meant something. For instance, I think we're one 
of the few places that sells the top quality Crane stationery. 
We've done an enormous business on that. There was a little space, 
I think about 8' x 12' that I gave Crane for stationery. I said, 
"I don't even know if it belongs in our place." They said, 'Give us 
a chance." Well, to make a long story as long as possible, and also 
as large as possible, they moved from that space to a hundred times 
the space. When it has Gump's imprint on the envelope, it 
definitely has a snob quality. 

Riess: Did you design the Gump's lettering? 

Gump: The logo? No, it was done when I came back from Honolulu. That 

stationery grew into an enormous business. And I'll tell you why. 
Shreve's was not handling it; they used to have their stuff. And 
Magnin's was not even bothering with Crane; they had Crane, and they 
decided they would go in for the cheaper type of stuff, you know, 
specials and all that. That may be all right in their business, I 
don't know. I'm not trying to say how they should run their 
business, because I would hate to be given that job. 



following p. 123 



Richard B. Gump, 1961. Portrait by Hartsook. 



124 



VII GOOD BUSINESS 



"Neglect Nothing" 



[Dictated by Mr. Gump from Florence, Italy, March 1988.] 

Now to go on to another phase of my world of buying and the 
adventures of the art mart, as you might call it. In the early 
days, as I said, I traveled with Stanley Corcoran in Europe. He was 
a European buyer and I was living over there, so I went with him. 
He told me something very interesting. He said that whenever you 
hear about something, just go and see it. If you can't use it, just 
forget about it. Because if you don't go and see that thing you'll 
always wonder what was there. "We should have gone there." In 
other words, it's good to know what you don't want as well as what 
you do want, if you're going to go out on a buying trip. Neglect 
nothing. Always look for something. 

I think the best buy I ever made in my life was when I was 
going to see some pottery in Japan. The pottery was okay, modern 
Japanese pottery, but it wasn't anything remarkable. Leaving this 
place I saw some teapots being made in the terracotta color. I'm 
sure that everybody reading this thing would know what I'm talking 
about. Well, of course, in these teapots they put designs. I said, 
"Remove the designs" the same as in many other things "and we'll 
buy the teapots the way they are." Well, we must have sold half a 
million of those things, and I wasn't even looking for anything like 
that. I was looking for something else. So you never can tell what 
you're going to run into when you're out on a buying trip. Of 
course, that has nothing to do with how you promote it; that's 
something else. 

Another item I bought once with one of my buyers, Bob Sheldon, 
we sold something like 5,000 of them. It was the shell dip bowl 
when they first came in. About ten years later he said, "Let's try 
it again and see how it will do." We didn't buy 5,000, I think we 
bought about 200 just to try them again, and the funny thing is, 
they didn't sell the second time. So you never know what's going to 



125 



happen when you're out buying. And I'm not talking about design. 
I'm talking about buying and selling. As far as design goes, I try 
to be as conscientious as possible, so that things fit in certain 
types of homes. 



Three Phases of Successful Buying 



There are three phases to buying that are rather difficult. 
But if all three work you have success. I'm just talking about 
buying now. Number one is you find a good agent. In other words, 
somebody in a foreign country who's honest and not trying to get a 
rake-off on everything that he handles. So that's the agent. And 
then there are the packers. The agents don't handle the packing; 
they turn the work over to packers. Sometimes that can be very 
expensive, though it doesn't have to be, or it can be very cheap, 
but then you get bad packing and half the goods come in badly. 

The third phase is the shipping. How is this stuff shipped? 
I'll give you an example of my experiences in India. For a time 
India did not want to export. That was quite a while ago; in fact 
1953, I think, is when I'm talking about. I don't know the exact 
technicality. They didn't want any cotton to go out of India. They 
wanted to do their own printing. The East India Company that 
started out sending the raw cotton to Lancashire it was all printed 
in England and then sent all over the world, it was a great thing 
for the British empire now they didn't want the cotton to go out, 
or any material of that kind. 

I bought some table mats and things like that in India. At 
first my agent there said, "Well, we'll send them out through 
Bombay." (It came originally from around Delhi or New Delhi.) So 
it was either to go by Bombay that would be towards the west, going 
around that way or go out through Calcutta, going towards the east, 
which is as broad as it's long. What happened was the whole batch 
was sent to Calcutta the first time. They said, "You can't export 
this stuff." So it was sent back to our agent in Delhi where I 
bought the things, or near Delhi, craftsmen around there. Then we 
sent them to Bombay. They finally left Bombay, but it took over a 
year for that merchandise to get to our place. 

One nearly unbelievable story two years after the last world 
war, we got a delivery out of the post office from Shanghai of some 
after-dinner Soochow jade coffee cups. They were just kept there 
automatically until the war was over, and then they were delivered 
to us. Just a dozen arrived, and a rather well-known lady picked up 
the dozen: Eleanor Roosevelt. 



126 



It's not such a simple thing to just walk into a little shop and 
say, "Oh, isn't that nice? Let's get a hundred of those. I think 
they're very cute and they'd look very nice in somebody's hunting 
lodge or somebody's bathroom," whatever you want to call it, 
whatever the particular product happened to be for. The delivery is 
a very difficult thing. 



Importance of the Agent 



Having a good agent can be essential, and I should say more 
about that. The best agent I think we ever had was the one we had 
in Austria. He was excellent. He watched everything, had his eyes 
open to everything. We had a lot of good ones, it's not as if we 
didn't. If they weren't good we wouldn't have them. For instance, 
the ones we had in Hong Kong since almost the turn of the century, 
Deacon and Company, Ltd., they were excellent. Of course, more as a 
favor to us they'd handle the small little things that Gump's had 
because they were enormous importers and exporters of great masses 
of stuff. They would contract for making maybe half a million pairs 
of gloves to go out throughout the world. Or all kinds of things of 
that type. When it came to handling our type of goods, in which we 
wanted to be rather fussy and have it done correctly, they were very 
conscientious. An English background and Chinese help, the 
combination worked out rather well. They seemed to have an attitude 
of conscientiousness towards the name "Gump's." But that's one 
agent. 

We had an excellent agent in Italy for years. We had an 
excellent agent up in Denmark for a while. Then he got mad at us 
because this is a rather silly story. A Japanese designer of 
pianos went up there to see some of the modern Danish design of 
furniture and adapt that to I think it was the Yamaha piano, I'm 
not sure, but we could check that out. But he got furious because I 
had that guy go up there and copy the Danish type of design to be 
done in Japan. That's another thing we have to watch out for in 
buying abroad. 

All these pretty little things that come into Gump's or these 
very adventurous things that come in like the great stone carvings 
that are in front of the museum up in Seattle, those were never even 
unpacked. Dr. [Richard E.] Fuller bought those just by the 
pictures. So there are many, many ways that these things come in. 
It's not like some of these big trade fairs where you say, "I'll 
have a dozen of those. Get me three dozen of these and four dozen 
of those." Yes, you can do that. But it won't be very original 
because they'll be bought by many other stores. We tried as much as 
possible in our past to invent new ideas, to keep out of the rat 
race. 



127 



"Promote Most What Sells Best" 



In doing new ideas we found out something very fascinating. You 
don't just go and buy a whole bunch of stuff. You test it out at 
first. And as it moves, then you buy more and more. You just don't 
buy a hundred and say, "That ought to do well." It's the thing that 
Amos Parrish taught us. And I found another thing: they also told 
us, don't carry too many different lines. In china for instance 
I'm not talking about the country, I'm talking about chinaware for 
the table they said, now look, you have maybe thirty different 
makers of china, and 80 percent of your business is with about three 
or four different manufacturers. Why bother with all the others? 
Experiment with the others. If they do well, then okay, build them 
up. If they don't, cut them out. But don't buy the same amounts in 
the china itself. You test it out. 

One of the prime things in buying is, promote most which sells 
best. And I should add, if we're talking about promote most which 
sells best, that we must remember the principle which I set up. 
There's a lot of stuff that we could have sold awfully well, but it 
would be awful-looking stuff that I wouldn't want to have in the 
store. So it should apply to our policy of good design and use. 

When I'm talking about use, then we get in a long philosophical 
argument about, is a decorative thing useful? Well yes, an umbrella 
could be just a plain umbrella; that's useful. Or you could get a 
very beautiful elaborate umbrella made up in Kashmir or in Thailand 
or someplace like that. When I meant use, I meant there are lots 
of times things are made but they don't know exactly what they're 
going to be used for. That's why I say to make sure about having 
things of use. [End of dictation] 



Presenting the Merchandise 



Gump: In 1968 Dayton's was interested in buying the store.* They heard 
that it was on the market I didn't put an ad in the paper, "Would 
like to sell old store," or something like that, but Dayton knew 
that I was interested in selling. I wouldn't sell to them, however, 



*In early 1968 Mr. Gump wrote Dayton's then known as Dayton's; they 
bought Hudson later from the South Seas and told them he was sorry 
it didn't work out for them to buy the store. The letter of intent 
to buy Gump's was written later in 1968 between Gump's and Crowell, 
Collier & Macmillan. Inc., by 1973 known as Macmillan, Inc. 



128 



Gump: because they wanted to put in branches, which, of course, the later 
management, Macmillan, decided to do after I left and af :er certain 
restrictions expired. But I said to Dayton's, "No, you'd lose the 
whole atmosphere." Dayton's must have felt the Gump's name on 
branches would be good, but I didn't agree. It is too difficult to 
duplicate in branches the esprit which we had in the main store, and 
too difficult to supply enough exclusive creative merchandise which 
the store name represented. 

The funny thing about this merchandising field. You'll get 
guys who are probably good at selling Buicks. "He knows how to 
sell; he knows the public." I hate that expression. Usually 
through those marketing surveys, "He knows the public." He couldn't 
figure out himself; how could he? Then they say, "Well, if he can 
sell Buicks, maybe he can sell dinnerware." [laughter] There's 
this funny idea that if you're good at one kind of merchandising, 
you're good at any. And it's a lot of nonsense. 

The person who's qualified for one thing is not qualified for 
the other. I got in a big argument with the guy who became head of 
merchandising for the White House, a very nice guy, he belonged to 
the Bohemian Club, a musician. One time we were sitting around at 
one of these meetings, and I knew he played the viola, so I wrote 
out something for the viola or tenor clef. I said, "Do you 
recognize this?" He said, "Oh, that's Beethoven's Fifth. What are 
you doing that for?" I said, "Cause this is a bore, this meeting." 

Anyway, to get back to it, he said, "Come up to our gift 
department in our store," which was the White House. (I remember as 
a kid I used to look forward to the White House delivery wagon 
coming by. I was hoping there was something for me, like some more 
lead soldiers for the First World War. My brother and I were 
building quite an army. I think President Reagan has forgotten his 
lead soldiers; he's still buying lead soldiers and using them. But 
we won't go into those politics, because I could rave for three 
hours on that. I don't think he actually realizes the difference 
between the cost of a $1 billion flattop that with one single mine 
could blow to hell, when that same amount of money could feed an 
awful lot of people in the South. What are you protecting?) 

But to get back to it, this fellow said, "I wish you'd come up 
and tell me what's wrong." So I looked around and I said, "I know 
what's wrong with this department, why it doesn't sell." He said, 
"We'll pay you $25,000 or $50,000 a year." I said, "You offer me 
$50,000 a year to take a million dollars of business away from 
Gump's? What, are you crazy? You could offer me a quarter of a 
million and I wouldn't take the job. I know exactly what's wrong." 

It was very simple. It's the same thing I told Joyce Hall of 
Hallmark Cards. They had this retail store to test the public. 
Joyce Hall, a marvelous guy who started the whole business I've met 



129 

Gump: his whole family, they're wonderful people, in Kansas City I went 

in and they said. "What's wrong?" I said, "I know what's wrong with 
this. You've just got stuff out on the table and there's no 
coordination with the stuff, what goes with what." 

When "Emily Jones," to make up a name, goes in and selects 
something, she doesn't know the difference. If the things are shown 
properly together it gives you a lift, and you say, "Gee, I'd like 
to have that with that." But if it's just piled up like a bunch of 
stuff it would be just like somebody in the automobile parts 
business, and they have all the parts for a Buick mixed up with the 
Ford parts and everything else, and how are you going to fix your 
carburetor? Gee, you've got to look through the bins for a year- 
and-a-half until you find the right one. 

If things are coordinated properly, one thing goes with 
another. I'm not saying it's got to be perfect. Maybe sometimes 
tables were done in the store that I didn't particularly like, but 
they had good taste from the viewpoint of the guy. At least they 
were imaginative, and inspiring to the average person. And that 
helps sales. 

It's very simple. I'm very mercenary when it comes to ideals 
and aesthetics. The dollar sign is the most important aesthetic 
thing. Somebody once said, "What thing to you is the most beautiful 
thing in the store?" I said, "I'll show it to you." There was a 
tag on a piece of ancient Japanese sculpture, I think it was 
$15,000. I said, "If I see a Sold tag on this $15,000 sale then 
that's the most beautiful thing I know." 

Riess: That doesn't sound like you. 

Gump: No, wait a minute. Don't say it isn't I; it is. I'll tell you why, 
because that was my job. I wasn't buying stuff for myself. I was 
buying for the public. And if I'm going to buy for the public, the 
sales are most important. You can have lousy sales or good sales, 
and I found it worked. 



The Urge to Collect 



Riess: Did you care who bought the things? Were you happier when a piece 
went off with someone who had some appreciation? 

Gump: We sold one of the most important jade things we had. Fortunately 
it went to a place where the guy has a great appreciation for hard 
stones. He started as a pebble collector and then started in 
collecting all these stones. He has a whole new workshop for 



130 



Gump: amateurs outside of Chicago. A very charming guy. He is extremely 
wealthy because he controls how all the water moves around Chicago, 
that whole area. 

Riess: Oh, how does he do that? 

Gump: How does he do it? I don't know. With pumps. I mean, if I knew 

how, I'd do it here. I'd go up to Sacramento and tell them how to 

straighten out this water problem they're having. Or go to my 
urologist, I don't know which. 

But no, I'm not being a smart-ass. Look, if you have two 
things for sale, I'd much rather see the $15,000 thing sold than the 
$5,000 thing if they're both good-looking. 

[Added later] I wonder what urges people to collect. In the 
March "85 issue of Apollo I found an interesting story about a 
certain Mr. Stephenson who worked at the British Museum. We know 
that Napoleon "captured," advisedly, many great works for Paris, now 
in the Louvre. Did he want this to show his conquests or the 
superiority of the French, or was it enjoyment of past concepts? 
Sometimes I look at some of my possessions and become confused 
whether I own them as ego-builders or for the true enjoyment of what 
was important to the past. Certainly the Romans followed the Greeks 
for practical reasons besides inventing the keystone of the arch. 
Today I am going to the Duomo to study how Brunelleschi put up that 
great dome without a scaffold. I've read the story by Vasari; it 
still seems impossible, but honest causes make honest designs. 

Perhaps collectors were fascinated by the craft of the past. 
When one examines a Japanese print, one cannot help but wonder at 
the coordination of the many different people who assembled the 
print. One artist made the original design, but at least three did 
the final print. Or look at the various states of Rembrandt prints. 
This fascination with the craft of something like Brunelleschi's 
dome causes curiosity and interest, desire for possession and 
collecting. The little silver gondola from Venice exemplifies 
another reason for desire for possession. It is wanted, not for its 
beauty, but for an emotion-memento of a Grand Canal tryst. [End of 
addition] 

We got a very important Japanese sculpture from a collection in 
Japan. We read in a book about this collection. This one figure I 
think was 14th or 15th century, a marvelous sculpture, and we got 
that and sold it by telephone. 



131 



Gump: The buyer came into the store a month or two later and I told 

him that the Metropolitan would be interested in buying that very 
important Japanese sculpture but at the time they weren't open for 
buying anything. The head of that department at the Metropolitan at 
the time had said, "Oh, that's very important. We can't get it, but 
let me know if it ever goes anyplace." This collector said, "You 
tell him any time he wants a loan of that for any reason I'll be 
happy to loan it to him." 



Authentication 



Riess: Would it always be most gratifying to you if a museum made the 
purchase? 

Gump: Yes, of course. One thing I bought a fellow came in with some so- 
called Limoges enamels. Not the latest stuff, but the medieval 
stuff. I had somebody bring it out to show it to Walter Keil, who 
was the head of the de Young Museum then. He said, "I can't tell 
you whether it's right or wrong." But in the meantime I found out 
that you can connect to the phone conversation. (I found out 
afterwards that was illegal.) So I had him telling me by phone 
exactly which was the right one and which was the wrong one. One 
piece out of five was excellent. He told me, "That one is very 
good, that crucifix." So I got that. 

Then Richard Fuller who owned the Seattle Art Museum, he's a 
good client of ours, he bought a lot of Oriental stuff from us. The 
enormous Ming figures in front of the museum there, he got from us. 

I said to Fuller, "Well, Walter Heil said this was a top 
piece." Heil happened to be an expert on medieval, particularly 
Limoges enamel. So Richard Fuller bought it right away. I told the 
fellow I bought it from, "If it's authentic, I'll give you so much, 
whether it's correct or not." I didn't know if it was correct. I 






132 

Gump: said, "We wouldn't want the three or four other things at any price, 
because they're not authentic." They were very good copies, but we 
couldn't sell that sort of thing. But I said, "Anything that's 
authentic I'll give you $500 for." 

That was all right by him. I said, "Now, people get annoyed 
when they hear what something sold for afterwards. You've accepted 
that price. It's not that I'm trying to lower the price or trying 
to raise the price, it wasn't bargaining. You've accepted it." 
Afterwards I told him, "You know, our price was $3,000 for that 
crucifix. We gave Mr. Fuller a discount." I've forgotten what 
discount he got, a museum discount. With certain cases in certain 
places, we gave certain discounts. And we sold him quite a lot of 
Oriental stuff. So I think it was 15 percent off that. 

I saw the fellow again. He brought in some ivories later. He 
was a very nice, well-educated fellow of French descent. His mother 
was French and he was selling a few things he had. And I said, "Oh, 
incidentally, you can see that cross up in Seattle now." He said, 
"That's wonderful." I said, "I will admit, I made quite a lot of 
money on it." But that doesn't happen all the time. You have to be 
choosey, which I was. 

What I'm trying to explain is our particular type of business 
and its relationship to the aesthetic world, what is good and bad in 
design, etc., and the value of that. 



Retail Merchants Association, and Unions 



Riess: You've alluded to fellow San Francisco merchants. You talked about 
talking to the person from the White House or the Emporium at one of 
those meetings. What kind of meetings do you all go to? 

Gump: Oh, that was the Retail Merchants' Association. It was one that was 
organized so that we could work together in dealing with the unions. 
We wouldn't deal with them independently. We were very strong until 
what happened was that Macy's being out here and then having the 
union thing in New York they'd give in to something in New York and 
then that would affect them here. That wrecked the whole thing. 
You can't blame them, the guy who's in charge here has to go by New 
York. And that screwed up the whole strength we had. 

Riess: Was Cyril Magnin the big power in merchandising here? 

Gump: Well, he had good p.r. and he had a sixth sense, like a lot of movie 
producers, like Sam Goldwyn. Nobody knows how Sam Goldwyn had a 
sixth sense about picking out things that worked very well. I'm not 
putting Cyril in the same class as Sam Goldwyn, that has nothing to 



133 



Gump: do with it. but the point is, there are certain people for instance. 
he [Magnin] discovered Larsen and another girl who did these 
wonderful ads they had showing different style. He just picked them.* 

Joan, my girlfriend, one time asked Cyril he was having dinner 
with us how he happened to, and he said, "I just liked the look of 
their drawings, and I just thought they'd be very good." That's how 
good he was. He just had a sixth sense. And he also had very good 
public relations. Whatever he did, it worked out well. Everybody 
knew about it. So he became Mr. San Francisco. 

Riess: When the Retail Merchants' Association got together, was his the 
biggest voice, the most important voice? 

Gump: Not necessarily, no. It could be from Roos Brothers, it could be 
from Dohrmann's, it could be from any company, the White House. 
Ernie Molloy, he was president of Macy's. Ernie Molloy went to 
Harvard Business School, and he was evidently quite good at handling 
unions, the give and take business. I couldn't do that, I wouldn't 
even try. I'm glad there was somebody who could be a voice for us. 

I remember one time that there was a problem with our Shipping 
Department. This guy, a head of one of the unions, called me up and 
said, "Your father would never treat us like that. You don't care 
about the unions, you don't give a damn." I said, "That's 
interesting to know. I only belong to two unions myself. What the 
hell are you talking about?" He said, "What do you mean?" I said, 
"I belong to the Musicians Union and I belong to the Radio Artists 
Union. I belong to both of them." 

I was very happy to belong to a union because it was very good 
for me. At first I would have people coming in the store and 
saying, "We have a ladies' club down in Merced, and we'd love to 
have you give your lecture. We understand it's very interesting, 
very amusing, based on your book. Good Taste Costs No More. Would 
you like to do that, Mr. Gump?" I would say, "I'll let you know." 
Then I would look it up to see if it's a pretty good account. I 
can't be very nasty and say, "No, I won't do it, "like I don't have 
the time or something. Then I would have to give in and give a 
lecture for nothing. 



*Clariece Graham adds: Betty Brader was responsible for the style 
of Joseph Magnin's ads, followed by Marget Larsen, designer, who 
used to work at the White House [department store] and she copied 
Betty Brader's style. Gump's found Betty Brader in Monterey later 
on, after she had married and moved away. She did some fashion 
figures for the opening of the Givenchy Boutique for Gump's in 
April, 1970. 






134 



Gump: When I joined the union, I also had an agent. So I said. "Well, 
it's not up to me. They're the ones that set the price." I was 
under contract to an agent. And that was a great relief. 

And this German band, you see, they used to ask, "Will you come 
to the opening of some fair?" or something. Well, maybe it didn't 
mean anything. After I joined the union when they would say, "Do 
you want to do this thing?" I would say, "Yes, that's very 
important that we play up there." Say in Vallejo, some charity 
thing. Fine. And if they couldn't afford to pay our fee, which was 
a union rate, not cheap, and the cause was worthy, then the union 
pays for it in those cases.* This is the technical side of the 
union. But it is worthwhile knowing the advantages of the unions. 
They could serve as buffers for groups soliciting service for free 
or otherwise just as my lecture agent could screen and evaluate 
inquiries for my talks. 



Location, Union Square Area 



Riess: Were Union Square and Post Street always the heartland of 
merchandising? 

Gump: Yes, well, we in San Francisco boast about the hills and the view 
and the Golden Gate. (You would think that we did it ourselves. 
They forget God probably had a hand in there, too, but He's 
secondary compared to the Chamber of Commerce.) But anyway, we're 
very fortunate because there's a sort of an area where merchandising 
is between Mason Street down to Market then up to about Bush Street, 
that triangle; then Bush runs way down into Market again. You've 
got a 45 degree angle, in other words, a triangle in there. 

At one time my father wanted to move the store out to Van Ness 
Avenue. The old Spreckels Mansion was still out there, and it was a 
pretty good copy of a French Renaissance chateau, like the ones they 
had on Fifth Avenue in New York for a long time. 

If 

Gump: He wanted to move the store out to this chateau. His two brothers 
who were the majority out of three said, "No, we ought to stay 
downtown." That was some time after the fire. So they decided to 



*The Musicians' Union has a transcription fund from which they pay 
their members for approved, charitable non-profit events, as they 
won't allow their members to play for nothing. 



135 



Gump: stay downtown. Also the White House was out there. That was right 
after the fire that they moved out. You see, I think they blew up 
everything along up to Van Ness Avenue. 

I can vaguely remember the temporary store on California Street 
between Polk and Van Ness. That was quite a few years ago; that was 
seventy-five years ago at least. I remember going in there. My 
uncle's wife, Aunt Camille said, "Oh, there he is!" I remember her 
yelling to me from the balcony. And there I am. I started taking 
my bows at that moment, before becoming a ham. [laughs] 

Riess: Oh, that's great I 

Gump: You see, that's an ego-building thing, that's why I remember it. 

Riess: You were saying there were great advantages in the Union Square 
area. 

Gump: Yes. I'll tell you what there was a deposition taken with me 
[July 18, 1977] and we could look that up.* It's rather 
interesting, the way I explained this whole thing about this 
triangle. And we're lucky, because if you consider downtown Detroit 
where all the shops are, and they have this Hudson's that's 
practically a zero now because nobody wants to go into that area 
anymore. Dayton-Hudson Dayton was able to buy there cheap because 
nobody wanted to go there. You take L.A.: at one time the 
Bullock's on Wilshire was the smart place. But nobody wants to go 
there now. 

Riess: Why has it worked so well for downtown in San Francisco? 

Gump: Well, because we're lucky. There was no other place to move to that 
would have been an advantage. That's why I brought up the thing 
about Gump's moving out to this Spreckel's mansion. 

Riess: Downtown was never challenged. 

Gump: No, nobody ever thought of it. So we went right back to where we 
were. You see, we were on Geary, between Grant and Stockton 
Streets. It was 113-115 Geary, there on the south side. We had a 
store there. Before that there was a store at 581-583 Market 
Street. Then the fire came along and that knocked the whole thing 
to nothing. After the 1906 fire we moved to 1645 California Street 
between Van Ness and Polk. Then we had this opportunity to return 
to Union Square in 1909 by leasing and eventually buying the 
building at 250 Post Street. 



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136 



Gump: In this deposition I mention about how at that time I said. "Well, 
it must be good because the White House took a 99-year lease on 
their property." Of course then something happened to it. I could 
probably take the place over and build it into quite a business. 
Macy's had moved in to Union Square and they spent a fortune on 
store fixtures, to make people think it's very good. 



Advertising, Specials and Catalogs 



Riess : Who handled Gump's advertising? Was that done in the store, or did 
you have an agency? 

Gump: Well, it was all kinds of things. We had certain outside people 

suggest certain campaigns and certain ideas of how to sell stuff.* 
Most of the art work, the layout was done in the store itself. We 
had very good people. One fellow who has been there for about 
thirty years he's not so well now Will Sanderson, had excellent 
taste. He knows the difference between a serif and a tea cup or a 
tea cup and a hiccup, that's better. [laughs] That's a good line; 
put that in. 

Riess: Did you appear in the Chronicle every day with an ad? 

Gump: Not necessarily every day. Depending on the days or the time of 
year. 

Riess: Did you get involved in that? 

Gump: Oh yes, sure. Way back in the twenties I was into it. I won't say 
I was any good at it. 

Riess: Did it bring in business, do you think? 

Gump: Well, yes, usually we mentioned about discounts on certain stuff. 

Not that we were a discount store. But let's say Wedgwood, to use a 
name, was $50 a place setting, their so-called bone china, and the 
factory back in England said that it was all right if we wanted to 
use discounts all over the country, whoever has Wedgwood can knock 
off 15 percent of whatever. So we advertised the fact that it was 



*Knollin Advertising, 391 Sutter St., with Tom McNamara and Paul 0. 
Michel son, in 1945, 1946. They instituted the famous "Gump's 
Memos," the Cable Car Series in Time Magazine [see Appendices] and 
Deane Dickason's radio commentary. Other agencies were Abbott 
Kimball Co., Harrington, Whitney & Hurst, and Malcolm Dewees, Inc. 



137 



Gump: off 15 percent; in case somebody ever bought that as their pattern, 
they would want to run down some more of their pattern at 15 percent 
off. It wasn't a phony, we never ran any phonies. Where the price 
is $100 and it's a "special" now at $75, or whatever, actually what 
their retail is anyway, those are phonies, these so-called 
discounts, you know. 

Riess: Your absolutely choice things, a Georgian silver teapot, how did 
that get advertised? 

Gump: We didn't advertise it. It was all word-of-mouth. 

After I sold the place they only did what is usually done by 
other stores. I kept saying, "Stay out of the rat race." It's very 
important. If you have a reputation for having things that are 
different, why go and have things that are the same? Then you lose 
your reputation. 

It reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think I mentioned this 
before, that they hired and paid quite a lot for his talent out in 
Hollywood. His letters to his daughter are wonderful letters. He 
says, "I notice now that they're paying a nice salary because it 
makes you very comfortable, my dear daughter," etc. "But after 
paying us, they're doing their best to change what they paid for." 
And that's exactly what's happened to our store. 

Riess: Did you put out a catalog in your time at the store? 

Gump: Yes. Also my brother did in the late thirties. It was called 
''Gump's View of the Mode," and later it was "Gifts from Gump's 
1941," and also 1943. During my time we continued with an annual 
catalog, really a gift brochure, for release before the holidays, 
with wonderful results. It was one of the first really good-looking 
brochures. Now Gump's releases several catalogs each year. 
Recently with this traffic problem not only Gump's but most big 
merchants have found out that you can get an awful lot of business 
by catalogs. People don't want to drive downtown, whether it's in 
Detroit or whether it's in Chicago. Now I understand people hardly 
go into the Loop in Chicago where Marshall Field's and Carson- Pirie- 
Scott and all those people are, right there. So they have branches 
spotted around and they're doing a terrific business in the 
branches. That's the reason the catalogs are doing so well in these 
places. We try to have stuff that's different. 

I was looking through there [Gump's 1987 catalog] and there are 
some very good values. I was amazed. It equals the less expensive 
stores. 

Riess: Oh, really? 



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138 



Gump: Yes, in glassware, for instance. Wine will taste just as good or 

bad in these glesses, but it's nice if it comes in a Gump's package. 
Somebody was saying the other day how she is thrilled when she sees 
she's got a package from Gump's. 

Attending to Salespeople, and Customers 



Riess: I read that Stanley Marcus met with all his salespeople once a 
month. Did you? 

Gump: No. I used to, I did quite a bit, then I stopped. I have some nice 
pictures of gothic cathedrals in England and France, and I remember 
lecturing on that. 

Riess: To the salespeople? 

Gump: To the whole store, not just the sales staff. No, whenever possible 
I talked to the whole place. You make them feel that they're 
learning something from the boss. I remember one time we had one of 
those meetings, which weren't too often. I should have had more of 
them. But I told them, "Now look, I want you people to be happy. 
Otherwise my investment and your time isn't paying off unless you're 
happy. After all, one-third of your life you're devoting to this 
place, eight hours out of twenty-four. We imagine you have another 
eight hours sleep. I don't know; sometimes I wonder, when I look at 
the way sales tags are written, or I look at the behavior. But 
anyway, I don't believe in doubting everybody." 

So I went on in that vein. And I said, "Your being happy is a 
good investment as far as I'm concerned. I try to watch the 
behavior of executives around this place, and I think it pays off 
pretty well because we're getting better. Next year I don't expect 
too much. They expect inflation to be such-and-such and so we should 
have at least 10 or 15 percent more sales. As far as I'm concerned, 
if they're 5 percent less, I'd be happy. Not that I can't stand 
success or can't stand all this money. I like money very much. That's 
why I'm a Republican. But I don't want anybody breathing down 
anybody's neck because they're not keeping up the so-called quota." 

That's another thing that was brought in from Macmillan that 
got me furious. I have this article from Time Magazine, saying I 
never believe in breathing down people's necks and pushing the 
people for sales. I think you have it. 

Riess: Yes. 

When something came in like a great piece of jade, would your 
salespeople have a list of people that they would then phone? 



139 



Gimp: Sure, they had collectors, yes. 

Riess: Did you have a V.I.P. shopping service where customers could call in 
and have it done for them? 

Gump: Well, certain salespeople got to know certain people well. 



f* 

Riess: My impression is that on an ordinary day 95 percent of the shoppers 
at Gump' s would be women. 

Gump: Yes, that's true. 

Riess: But maybe the important buyers for the museums were men? 

Gump: Yes, they would be men usually. Or else it might be women on some 
committee or on some board of some museum looking for something. 

Riess: I wondered if you in some ways particularly catered to the female. 
Gump: Yes, we definitely did. 

This is amusing. Once I set up a table in the store to 
photograph to use as an example of a lot of money being spent on 
modern accoutrements in the most garish taste possible. I had it 
set for fourteen people. I wanted to use pictures of it to 
illustrate my lectures. You'd be amazed, 50 percent, of the women 
who saw it said, "Oh, isn't that beautiful!" They were thinking 
mostly of the man hours, the cutlery, the glass, etc. 

The flatware I used for that was one that I hated. Grand 
Baroque by Wallace. I insulted it so much around the country that 
they begged me please to lay off. I said it was like grabbing a 
bunch of nettles to grab hold of the fork. Of course in that 
complicated design there's less chance of showing bad workmanship, 
you see. It's concealed in all the intricacy. Whereas a plain 
thing I don't say all plain things are good, that's not the idea, 
though sometimes I was accused of that. 

I had a guy, he knew all about my design test. He worked on 
the test with me. He was from New York and he happened to select 
Grand Baroque, he and his wife use it. I said, "That's too bad. 
You hadn't my good influence 1" [laughter] 



139a 



TIME 

THE WEEKLY NEWSMAGAZINE 

TIME, i.EPTEMBER 29, 1961 



RETAILING 

Low-Pressure Profits 

\Vhile more and more retailers stam 
pede customers with discount prices and 
waylay them near home with suburban 
branches, the pride of San Francisco's 
Post Street. Gump's Inc., prospers by 
remaining as aloof as Kipling's cat. With 
arrogant contempt for trends, Gump's 
eight years ago sold its only two branch 
stores (in Honolulu and Carmel, Calif.), 
and the nearest thing to a loss leader a 
Gump's customer can expect to find is a 
pair of pewter and brass candlesticks re 
duced from $250 to $1:5. Yet in a little 
more than a decade. Gump's sales have 
almost doubled, last year approached 
$4.000.000, with profits before taxes run 
ning a comfortable 6% of gross. 

Driving the century-old family store 
to new heights is a white-haired, crew-cut 
retailing iconoclast. Richard Benjamin 
Gump. 55, grandson of the founder. When 
Dick Gump took over full management 
in 1947, his father. A. (for Abraham) 
Livingston Gump, had already built the 
store into one of the Occident's richest 
treasure houses of the Orient's art. Dick 
shocked Gump's older patrons by stream 
lining the temple-quiet, museumlike show 
rooms into tastefully contemporary sales 
rooms. And though the Oriental accent 
still dominates. Gump's small task force 
of buyers, led by Dick himself, scours 
Latin America and Europe to bring in a 
greater variety of art. antiques and home 
furnishings. 

Taste Setter. To bolster his store's 
carriage-trade appeal, outspoken Dick 
Gump long aeo set out to establish him 
self as an arbiter of good taste. On lec 
ture tours and in a widely sold book 
(Good Taste Costs A'o A/ore 1, he has 
waged incessant war against what he con 
siders bad design. One of his targets 
was none other than New York's Metro 
politan Museum of Art; he was dis 
tressed by the museum's pride in a gold 
cup made by Benvenuto Cellini in the 
shape of an ornate shell resting on a 
dragon riding on a turtle. Shudders 
Gump: "It's really pretty horrible." 

Gump's own taste in all things has not 
been universally admired. The New York 
Times sair? that his favorite hobby 
the Guckc:;heimer Sour Kraut German 
Band, which he leads in irregular con 
certs in San Francisco deserves "a spe 
cial place in the history of musical may 
hem." But in matters artistic. Gump's 
has established itself as a place where 




GUMP AS GUCKENHEIMER 

A taste for musical mayhem. 

people not sure of their own judgment 
may buy confidently. "Bargains are not 
the house specialty, but not everything is 
expensive: on the same page in the Gump 
catalogue, a gold-finished compact with a 
jade medallion is listed for $13.75 and 
a jade and diamond ring for $10.000. 

Soft Sell. Gump thinks that his store's 
reputation rests primarily on the casual 
soft sell practiced by its kno\vledgeable 
sales staff. "I've told them." says Gump, 
"that if we don't earn- an item, tell the 
customer where he can buy it. Don't tell 
him we have something better. The cus 
tomer thinks, 'Isn't it nice of Gump's 
to tell me where to find it.' and he comes 
back to Gump's." 

Though he is at heart as hard-driving 
a retailer as any discounter going. Gump 
strains for casualness in his store, ada 
mantly refuses to set sales quotas for his 
170 employees. One year, he relates. "I 
told a sales meeting. 'I expect 10^ less 
sales next year.' That year our sales went 
up 15%." In 1961 it seems certain that 
Gump's business will hit another high, 
but even though the year is well along. 
Dick Gump still refuses to predict what 
sales will be. "If you had a projected 
sales figure," says he. "you'd have to exert 
pressure to make it." 



140 



The Book Business 

Riess: How did you come to do the Good Taste book? 

Gump: Donald Friede was wandering around the store one time and I 

explained my personal philosophy about merchandise and merchandising 
to him. I was introduced to the West Coast editor of Doubleday, 
Howard Cady, who asked for a resume of what I would put into a book. 
After that was done I wrote Good Taste Costs No More, which happened 
to be our store slogan at the time. The book was released in 1951 
by Doubleday and again as a paperback by Macmillan in 1970. We used 
the slogan for many years. 

Riess: In Good Taste Costs No More you acknowledge the help of Ross Wills 
and Ben Davis. Who were they? 

Gump: I've mentioned Ben Davis. He worked as the head of our interior 
design department at one time. (See p. 90.) 

Riess: And Ross Wills? 

Gump: A researcher. The editors at Doubleday, after Good Taste Costs No 
More they asked me to do a book on retailing. I spent a long time 
on that. That was 1955 and Ross Wills did an awful lot of research 
for me and my wife at the time. Gee, I had some marvelous material. 
I had gotten together an enormous amount of interesting stuff. It 
would have blown the hats off the heads of all of Detroit. I 
wouldn't write anything I couldn't verify. Everything I would have 
put in there was authentic, about how they manipulated the 
automobile market. 

Riess: What happened to the book? 

Gump: My wife and I we were disagreeing at the time, and we gave it up. 

Riess: Was Good Taste Costs _N More a commercial success? 

Gump: Yes, it sold I think about 25,000 copies. 

Riess: Did you sell it in the store? 

Gump: Yes, but we didn't press it. 

Riess: And at your lectures? 

Gump: Yes, but my publisher, Doubleday usually the books weren't there! 

I remember when I was lecturing at Ayres & Co. in Indianapolis, they 
had a hundred books there and I sold all of them to the audience. 
But usually the books wo'tld not have arrived ir time. And I gather 
from others that this is common with Doubleday. 



141 



Gump: Of course the people in the book business never could sell books, 
never could. Taey don't know the firiit thing about merchandising. 
For instance, when they bring out XYZ by Joe Blow and it's a big 
seller why don't they bring it out in cassette form so the housewife 
can listen to it when she's doing her housework, or put the cassette 
in the car? There are no more backwards people than the book 
people. Another thing is that they always promote the new, 
forgetting the thing that was selling and that was successful. 

Riess : Well, we've talked about the store, the design test, the book . 

Gump: One thing I have to emphasize. I inherited this high-speed horse, 
you know. I didn't want to just keep him in the barn. I wanted to 
let him run. So if I had certain ideas about how to make this horse 
win I didn't want to be stopped. Fortunately I was head of the 
place and I could really let the horse go. I chose to be as 
conscientious as possible about giving the public what in general is 
considered to be good taste or good design. I thought it was such 
an opportunity, and it worked very well, that's all I can say. 



A Room in Richard Gump' s Townhouse 



Riess: And before I leave, we were talking about this wonderful living 
room. What color is it? 

Gump: Brick red, burnt sienna, I don't know. 
Riess: This burnt sienna room . 

Gump: No, don't say burnt sienna, it isn't burnt sienna. Brick red would 
be more what people imagine. 

Riess: What kind of a rug is this? 

Gump: It's an Imperial rug. And the interesting thing about the red in 
there is that it was this color red originally. All the Chinese 
rugs have faded into that brick color. This is the original color, 
this red. It's a funny thing. I bought this in the biggest shop in 
Florence, the Haas store on Tornabuoni, about ten years ago. I saw 
it in the basement for $1,000. Today it would be $10,000. The 
prices of Chinese rugs have actually gone up ten times. 

I had another color on the wall at one time; it was awful. So 
I changed the wall colors. Like I said, the first time I really had 
the department heads together in this big meeting when I was more or 
less the all-powerful president, I said, "There's one thing you're 
going to get used to here, one thing that is consistent as long as 
there's something that's going to be consistent, you might as well 



142 



Gump: depend on it and that's change." If I didn't like the color of a 
wall I'd change it. And I've done the same thing here. That's how 
we discovered these nice colors. 

Riess: The floor is a kind of blue-black. 

Gump: Well, it's a very cheap tile but it looks just exactly like slate. 

Riess: And you designed the two shallow cupboards. 

Gump: Yes. A friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a long time couldn't 
get over those. Leigh B. Block, the very famous collector of 
modern he's got the best collection in the world of modern 
paintings, for instance, he owns the Van Gogh with the ears cut off, 
that's in his private collection, that will give you an idea of the 
quality of stuff he has he came in here when this room wasn't 
finished and he said, "Oh, those two cabinets are my favorites in 
the whole room." He didn't know anything about Gandhara. But the 
cupboards were his favorites. 

What I had planned to do on them originally was to make a 
drawing in a certain style, Chinese, Oriental gold. I don't mean 
heavy gold; just the lines would be in gold. It's very easy to do. 
You just put down the varnish and then you just put the gold leaf on 
it and rub it off. But after I got done with that I thought I'd let 
it stay like that. It's amusing. The molding and all that came 
from San Francisco. 

Riess: One cupboard is full of splendid Georgian silver and the other has 
the two Tang figures. 

And what painting is it that you have loaned for the Ian White 
exhibit? The round Renaissance madonna? 

Gump: Tondo, they call her in Italian. I'll show you a picture of it. 
[shows her in book] 

Riess: That's lovely. 



142a 




3- 9: 9: 3- 



" 






o o n B 
8- I ^ % 



A\ 



cug^ c<@><f- 





Note from Saul Steimberg: 

"Dear Mr. Gump: Thank you for the music rubbe 
stamps, very beautiful and useful. I used them in 
many ways (architecture, flowers, and so forth) and 
I enclose here a sample for you. 

With thanks again for your kind thought. 

Sincerely, 
Saul Steinberg" 



143 






VIII MUSICAL LIFE 



"A Lousy Musician"## 

Riess: Let's take up Richard Gump as musician and composer today. 

Gump: It would be better to tell the readers that I wouldn't have myself 

in any orchestra or band because I'm a lousy musician. I can't read 
quickly. When I studied piano in my teens I had a marvelous touch 
and all that, but I couldn't read quickly, which is very important. 
And the same thing with the clarinet. 

I studied clarinet with Mr. Randall, the first clarinetist of 
the San Francisco Symphony in the early twenties. He worked on tone 
with me. The same thing as with the piano. The piano is all touch, 
tone, which I know. I think I used to sound very majestic on the 
piano. I don't anymore because I have no technique. But neither 
one of them taught me to read quickly. I didn't start reading music 
on the clarinet until I organized my German band. Then I found I 
could actually read right off the bat. But I wasn't studying that; 
I was studying to have a tone as good as his, which was excellent. 
I'm talking about the clarinet now. 

Riess: So if your ability to read music had been greater do you think that 
you would really have made it a career? 



*Mr. Gump added later a note that Ludwig Altman, organist and choir 
director for fifty years at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, 
in instructing his choir for performance of Mr. Gump's "Psalm 150," 
March 1975, introduced Mr. Gump by name to the singers and said, 
"Now, please listen to the Maestro." Mr. Gump said, "From a man who 
was internationally known as a great organist, his calling me 
Maestro was the ultimate compliment." 



144 



Gump: Well, that's a big "if " question; I don't know. It's a question I 
never thought about. I'm glad you br 'Ught that up. I was t. linking 
of writing a book called I'm Glad You Brought That Up. [laughter] 




Performances 

Riess : In Honolulu you had your works performed, didn't you? 

Gump: Yes, one movement of a symphonic suite that I wrote called 

Polynesian Impression. Only the first movement was done by the 
Honolulu Symphony December 19, 1940. The three movements were 
Nature, Romance, and Dance. The Dance was played later by the 
Oakland Symphony (May 10, 1942). And it was used by the Oakland 
Ballet, too. Another work of mine entitled "Nocturne at Angkor Wat" 
was played by the Honolulu String Quartet in early 1941. After I 
left the Islands, my symphonic work, Seven Variations on an American 
Theme, was performed by the Honolulu Symphony March 15, 1955 and 
again on July 4, 1957. 

Riess: Did you have to promote your work? 

Gump: No. That's a very good question. You never get anyplace trying to 
promote your own music, or even promote pictures, or something. I 
certainly have never paid anyone to perform my music in public. 
Just let somebody else discover you, then they build their egos. If 
you push the stuff yourself, if you've got to put it over, they 
don't like it. I know I didn't like it when artists did that to me. 

Riess: And then you also wrote Cambodian Impression which was played by the 
Honolulu String Quartet [early 1941], 

Gump: That's right. It was played by the Honolulu String Quartet, who 
were excellent musicians, the four best string players in the 
Islands. 

I'll tell you what about the Cambodian Impression was 
remarkable not that I wrote it. But I called it "Nocturne at 
Angkor." And this girl came up to me who worked in the store. She 
said, "Where's Angkor? I don't know where that is. but I pictured 
ruins in the jungle." Well, how in the world did I do that in 
music? She didn't know what it was about. And to top that, I put 
that on a cassette, and I looked at Angkor in the moonlight years 
later I'll tell you when it was, 1970, and that was performed in 
1941, that's quite a space and I put that on, and it's just like a 
scene I looked at when I was there, at Angkor Wat. Because I went 
through there quite often, and was there with two of our buyers and 
my girlfriend, we went there. 



145 



Gump: But anyway, it's amazing how it was like that. The mood was like 
the place itself. See. I wrote that before I had ever been there. 

Riess: How did you choose that title? 

Gump: Because I thought that that particular art was remarkable, the Khmer 
as they call it. That particular art I liked. We had a few Khmer 
pieces in the store. I have some very nice Khmer stuff here now. 

Well, anyway, that's the string quartet. So the first movement 
of my Polynesian Impression was performed. The second movement was 
a romance; the third movement was a dance. Those are authentic 
dances, too. I remember, I had a o'opa, which is an ancient 
Hawaiian dance step, a very slow rhythm. And I had a siva-siva 
which is also Polynesian, but from Samoa. [It means dance in 
Samoan.] And then I had also a regular Tahitian dance, hiro-e. 
[hums a melody] Wonderful, and I just put the music with that. 

Anyway, that was a theme in that, too. It was actually 
authentic Polynesian music, such as it is. The Bishop Museum had 
done a lot of research on Polynesian music. They had hardly 
anything. For instance, steel guitars were supposed to come out of 
Hawaii. It's in the Bishop Museum's book on music. They even give 
the name of the guy who invented it, way ahead of the regular 
guitar. You use a pocket comb for that, for where they use the 
steel on top of the slide. There's some awful corny stuff in 
Western music: "My girl done left me crying," all that sort of 
stuff, [wails, imitating slide guitar] 

Riess: These pieces that you had performed in Hawaii had you composed them 
in Hollywood? 

Gump: Yes. In fact, I wrote the quartet in 1934, I think it was. I can't 
remember, it's so far back. I was really buried into Hollywood. 



Inspiration and Influences in Composing 

Riess: How did these tunes come to you? Tell me about yourself as a 
creative artist. 

Gump: Well, that's a good question. I remember when I composed a thing I 
called "Safari." I fooled around on the piano and got this theme 
and I thought, "Geez," and I kept repeating it. It goes on and on. 
I have that in a string quartet, too. And it sounds like a safari, 
I guess. I thought it was very descriptive of that. 



following p. 145 






Record jacket: "Impressions from 
Many Lands," with illustrations 
from Florence and Moorea by Richard 
Gump, 1976. 





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145a 



POLYNESIAN IMPRESSION SYMPHONIC SUITE 

BY RICHARD GUMP 



Polynesian Impression is a suite in three move- complete suite at one time, thus giving three dif- 

ments entitled respectively, Nature, Romance, fcrent pictures of ancient Polynesia. 

Dance. 

As each movement is a complete thought in it 
self, each could be played individually. However, 
because of thematic material which reoccurs 
throughout the suite, it is preferable to play the 



The first movement, Nature, was played by 
the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra December 19, 
1940. 

The entire suite was completed December 30, 
1940. 



NATURE 



This is a portrayal of emotional reactions 
caused by various phases of Nature. 

It is dawn. A palm-lined seashore is lapped by 
gentle waters of a quiet lagoon. Day advances. 

With a distinct change in tempo, a hidden val 
ley is pictured and the short horn-call is descrip 
tive of man trespassing on seemingly sacred haunts 
of Nature, and Nature's awakening to his intru 
sion. This theme reoccurs in ever-changing moods, 
picturing many valleys, waterfalls, swiftly-running 
streams, and dense foliage dripping into still pools. 



These images are succeeded by one of mighty 
green peaks, crowned with an ever-present veil of 
misting clouds. 

The next image is one of a more mysterious and 
secluded valley where one feels the aura of Na 
ture's supernatural forces, and in which ancient 
gods of Polynesia seem to be lurking. 

The impression changes; from a mountain-top 
a glorious panorama is unfolded. 

The closing image is of the exquisite magic of 
the seashore; this time silvered by a tropic moon 



ROMANCE 



This movement is a primitive idyl. 

A maiden sits waiting for the return of the men, 
who have gone on a long voyage. 

A solo horn, suggesting a call sounded by a 
primitive conch-shell, announces their coming. 
This is followed by a short majestic passage. 

The girl is struck by the appearance of a youth, 



who in turn notices her charm. From coquetry 
true desire grows, which is described by the horn- 
call now heard in full lyrical song. She shrinks 
from his eager advances, however, and flees. 

He pursues her through the forest, through 
hidden valleys, by waterfalls. 

He finally overtakes her; she relents, and their 
love becomes complete ecstasy and bliss. 



DANCE 



Although the thematic material and rhythms 
of this movement are authentic, it is more than 
just a symphonic transcription of Polynesian 
motives and chants the material used has been 
developed freely in spite of the fact that the primi 
tive dance mood has been retained. 

The trombones open with an ancient Hawaiian 
oli or chant, then the percussion uses a typical 
Hawaiian olapa rhythm. This introduction theme 
is developed for some length. 

Here a new rhythm is introduced by the kettle 
drums and is joined by a counter-rhythm on the 
tom-tom. This, typical of a Tahitian otea, or 
ceremonial dance, continues as it is joined by a 
third rhythm, that of the Tahitian uti, played on 
the strings. As these continue, the main theme of 



the finale enters. It is the ancient Tahitian chant 
Hiro-e, played in its original form by the oboe 
and picolo. During the long development of this 
theme, we notice a continual repetition of the 
chords D major for three beats, and E minor for 
the fourth beat; this is typical of the uti. 

The tom-tom rhythm changes we hear the 
characteristic beat of the Samoan siva-siva open 
ing the trio. In humorous manner the bassoons 
and solo violin then play the authentic siva-siva 
chant to primitive harmonies, and the chant is 
repeated and developed symphonically. 

After the usual dance-form repeat, the coda 
closes the movement with Hiro-c, played in majes 
tic counterpoint against the olapa theme of the 
introduction. 







LEADING HIS OWN SYMPHONY: Richard Gump, whose orchestral 
' work. Polynesian Impression, will be played December 19, is pictured 
i above lending the Honolulu Symphony orchestra in his ou-n work. This 

Is the first orchestral work dealing with Polynesia In a clas'';al vein 

ever played here. Senlck photo. 



Symphony Orchestra To Play 
Gump's Polynesian Suite 

By BETTY MACDONALD 

When Symphony Director Fritz Hart lifts his baton December 19 at 
the University ol Hawaii, the audience will hear, for the first tim, an 
orchestral work in a classical vein dealing with Polynesia. 

Composer and orchestrator is Richard Gump, son of A. Livingston 
Gump. San Francisco's famous jade collector. His suite. Polynesian Im 
pression, is a tone picture of the 



South Seas. 



The work is a result of many 
years of traveling and research in 
Polynesia, with six months spent in 
Tahiti. A French-Tahitan musician, 
Tautu . Archer, helped Mr. Gump 
with some of the ancient chants. 

"I wrote Polynesian Impression in 



"In the first movement, which 
they are playing at the university, 
there is np attempt to produce man 
made sounds." he said. "It is a tone 
picture of any tropical island, from 
the seashore wandering into rich 
verdure of valleys. The second 
movement deals with romance, the 



Honolulu in my spare time during' ! tnir d '* ' direct use of an old chant 

the past year," Mr. Gump explained. ' 

"I believe that Hawaiian music 

should be raised above the popular 

music field. There is a great scope 

in the pure and ancient folk music 

of the islands, just as there was in 

the Hungarian and Russian songs 

adapted hy Liszt and Brahms. 

Mr. Gump has written background 
music for films, chamber music and 
popular songs including My Tane, 
Tropical Heaven, Under !he Spread 
ing Coconut Tree, Give Me Hawaii 
and You, and Hawaiian Charm. He 
doesn't take his popular work very 



as a background for the complex 
dance rhythm? of Polynesia." 

In raising the standards at Poly 
nesian music above the popular | 
field. Mr. Gump feels that an artist t 
can make a definite contribution to j 
island culture. 

No admission will be chargad at ! 
the Honolulu Symphony concert j 
which will be given at the univer 
sity gymnasium at 8 p. m. 









seriously, but he is enthusiastic 



; about his classical suite. His Im- | 
', pression includes three movements, ' 
i Nature, Romance and Dance. 



Honolulu Star-Bulletin 
Friday, December 13, 1940 



146 



Gump: I'm sure I could write music for pictures because the man I studied 
with, Domenico Brescia, taught an awful lot of the guys who wrote 
background music for the movies in the twenties and thirties. I 
know a couple of them. 

Riess: Did you compose at the piano? 

Gump: Yes, but sometimes I do it away from the piano. I use the piano 

more to prove what I think I've written, you see. Because you can't 
sing four voices. You can hear four voices at once, a dominant 
seventh or a diminished seventh or whatever, you can hear those 
voices mentally. I would try it out on the piano and sometimes it 
didn't work. I might cue in harmony on this stuff. 

Where it comes from, I don't know. I create in various ways, 
how these things come to me. 

Riess: Did you surround yourself with music? Have you always been 
listening to music, classical? 

Gump: Yes, as far as I remember. You see, when I shot myself then I 

couldn't go into athletics, then I decided I wanted to write music, 
because I enjoyed it anyway. I enjoyed listening to the San 
Francisco Symphony, Alfred Hertz, I enjoyed that very much. It 
inspired me to try to do something like that. So I started writing 
stuff. Fortunately I took lessons from the best man on the west 
coast, Domenico Brescia. 

Riess: Did Hertz conduct any of the modern music? Did he conduct 
Stravinsky and Shostakovich? 

Gump: Yes, 19th and 20th century. Stuff that's popular today he did. He 
brought out some stuff. I remember he did Mahler's Second Symphony. 
That's the one with the chorus, but he left out the chorus because 
he didn't have that at his fingertips, which they have today. (I 
think they're going to do Mahler's Second in this series of the 
Symphony [referring to 1987-88 season]). No, he was quite 
progressive. In fact. Hertz got in dutch with Germany because he 
conducted Parsifal at the Metropolitan and it was in Wagner's will 
that it wasn't to be played until fifty years after his death. And 
Hertz conducted it in 1915 or '16, I think. You can imagine when 
the Wagner estate, whatever that was, learned of thatl Wagner's 
grandsons were in the music business; Siegfried was his son he had 
two sons, I think. 

Riess: Why was Parsifal not to be performed? 

Gump: Because Wagner said he didn't want it to be. That was the last 

thing he wrote. In fact he finished it up in Ravello on the Amalfi 
coast. 



147 



Riess: Ravello? 

Gump: Ravello, R-A-V-E-L-L-O, I know it backwards. I've painted pictures 
up there. 

Riess: So in any case, there was that kind of music you listened to. Did 
you go to jazz places? 

Gump: Oh, once in a while, sure. There was a very good combination on the 
corner of Sutter and Fillmore. People would go there just to hear 
it. A person named Cooper was the pianist, an excellent musician. 
He's not here anymore, he's gone east. Johnny Cooper, he's very 
well-known, a very well-bred guy. I knew him quite well personally. 
I knew that he knew quite a bit about music, besides being able to 
play all this jazz stuff. Jazz I mean, there are so many forms I 
don't understand today's music at all. They asked [Artur] 
Rubinstein because he was talking to a whole group of kids at some 
school in the east, I've forgotten where it was but they asked him 
about modern music. He said, "I don't criticize what I don't 
understand." It's like somebody who asked Picasso, "What does that 
picture represent?" and he said, "$350,000." Of course, Rubinstein 
was great on Chopin and all the classics, as you know. 

Riess: What kind of connections did you have with the musical institutions 
of San Francisco? I know you are on the Symphony Board of Governors 
now. 

Gump: Yes. That doesn't mean you're a musician. 

Riess: Earlier you were involved with the San Francisco Conservatory? I 
know you know Milton and Peggy Salkind. 

Gump: Well, they heard this work of mine, the Seven Variations cm &n 

American Theme, it was played by the Marin Symphony. Cast one Usigli 
conducted it in 1953. He's dead now. I didn't know if it would be 
played. It was quite a j ob because it's very heavy orchestration. 

Riess: Your Fantasia for Four Hands was played by Milton and Peggy Salkind. 
[San Francisco Museum of Art, March 10, 1954] 

Gump: That's what I was going to say. They heard that and they asked me 
they lived over in Sausalito where I lived at the time, and they 
said, "Would you write something for us?" I said, "Sure." It's the 
Fantasia for Four Hands which they performed quite a bit in this 
country. They did it in Washington at the Phillips Gallery. They 
also played it for their debut recital in 1955 at the San Francisco 
Museum of Modern Art. So that's been spread around. 

I hadn't seen Peggy for years and then I saw her the other day. 
She asked me if I had a movement that she could play in a concert. 
I said, "No, I haven't got anything in particular for piano. But 



148 



Gump: I'll be happy to write something," which I'm working on now. 

Mentally I'm working on it. I haven't got the idea yet. So you ask 
me these questions. I'm working on that mentally, what I'm going to 
do. I can't just write some music and say this is it. 

I wrote something for Boris Blinder, the first chair of the San 
Francisco Symphony for thirty years, something for cello alone. It 
wasn't played in concert. He played it around, or he did play it. 
He died the other day, at age 84. 



Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band Beginnings 

Riess : How did the Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band take shape? 

Gump: There was a fellow living with my wife and myself at that time. He 
used to help in the garden. He played various instruments; he had 
been a professional musician at one time. My wife and I knew that 
he played. But we didn't have any idea. It was my mother-in-law 
who said, "Well, why don't you get up a German band?" I said, 
"That's a good idea." So that's how it started. We were talking 
about going around Sausalito and singing Christmas carols. I 
thought this was a more original idea. 

Riess: Who was the gardener? What was his name? 

Gump: Barney Harold. 

Riess: And he was a member of the band? 

Gump: Oh, certainly, he was one of the founders with me. He wouldn't 
come up here to town to join the union. He was a bass player. 



Riess: He's not listed as one of the personnel, though. 






Gump: No, he can't be. For Victor [RCA] , he wasn't there, and also for 

that other recording. What was the name of that company? [Barbary 
Coast Records] 

Well, I'll tell you about the German band anyway. I thought it 
was a good idea to have this silliness attached to my name because 
art can become very stuffy, and taste can be a very stuffy thing. I 
destroyed that attitude, I think. I think I did more harm than 
good, as a matter of fact. People will always remember me for the 
German band instead of for serious music. 






149 



San Francisco Symphony Board 

Gump: For instance, I was at the table with Edo de Waart, the guy leaving 
the Symphony, and the present conductor, [Herbert] Blomstedt. The 
two of them were at the table. And one of the other persons who 
happened to be at the table said, "How are you doing with the German 
band?" He doesn't know me as a serious musician. 

Quite a few years ago I used to sit in the first row at the 
Opera. I liked it because I could look down at the musicians. I 
looked right at the conductor because it curves. But one time I got 
a first row seat on the right side which was terrible because all 
the percussion and brass is over there. On the left side you have 
all the strings. That's where I was, finally. Anyway, now I'm 
going to get tickets for the Opera when I want them. 

Riess: Rather than being a season person? 

Gump: Yes. I did get the season tickets for the Symphony because my 

attorney wants tickets. So I was able to get very good seats, as 
far as I know. I think the Davies place is not too good for 
sound. 

Riess: Where do you like to sit there? 

Gump: Well, I'm going to see how the seats are downstairs. I've heard 
that's the best. 

Riess: Do you sit quite close to the front also for the Symphony? 

Gump: I understand from the eighth to the twentieth rows are the best 
downstairs. Of course, there's no aisle down the center. It's 
insane. That's awful. One time I got in the wrong place. It was a 
big fashion show by Yves St. Laurent, some benefit for the Symphony 
or something. Brayton and I got on the wrong side and had to walk 
across all these people. The idea was it would make more room for 
the people walking in front. They're absolutely crazy, Skidmore, 
Owings, and Merrill. They ought to "skid" out of the place; they're 
terrible. 

You see, what happened on that as far as I know maybe this is 
correct or not they heard that [Avery] Fisher Hall in New York had 
excellent sound. And so they got the same acoustician [Theodore J. 
Schultz]. They didn't know that with Fisher Hall it had to all be 
changed. They spent something like $10 million now you can check 
all this to correct it. But in San Francisco they got the same 
lousy acoustics. 



150 

Gump: Acoustics are like air conditioning. There are all sorts of 

theories and they work it out by all kinds of formulas. It never 
works. It's just trial and error, it ends up. It's the same thing 
with air conditioning, you know. They have all kinds of trouble 
with that. "It should work." but it's just a computer that says so. 

Riess: Were you involved with the Performing Arts Center yourself? 
Gump: No, I wasn' t. 

Riess: When you became a member of the Symphony's Board of Governors [1981] 
what were the issues being discussed in meetings then? 

Gump: We knew that we needed that new hall because the Symphony couldn't 
rehearse. It was more for the Opera because the Opera needed their 
own hall. The Symphony used to go in when the Opera wasn't playing, 
and then the Opera couldn't have their own rehearsals, you see. 
They even enlarged it in the back. They have a scene dock in there, 
too. They spent a lot of money on it but it's worth it because they 
can trade those scenes from certain operas with other opera companies. 



Riess: When you were on the board was there a particular interest that you 
had that you pursued? 

Gump: All I pursued is they get money from me. [chuckles] I mean, 

Brayton Wilbur he got money from me. I said to him, "I'll leave a 
lot of money in my will to the Symphony if you perform this work of 
mine." That was a little blackmail. I told him to forget it. 
Finally it turned out that Mrs. [Joachim] Bechtle, who's going to be 
president in November, she finally got [Michael] Steinberg to see 
me, which is going to be on the 8th of September. He recommends 
certain works to the conductor because he [Blomstedt] can't be 
looking at all these works. He's concentrating on what he's going 
to do. So Steinberg is more or less the censor, whatever it is you 
want to call it. 

Riess: Screening things. 

Gump: Yes, screening for new works. So finally, after a year and a half, 
he's going to look at this work of mine based on King Lear, solo 
cello, etc. 

Riess: Is it fully orchestral? 

Gump: Of course, for full orchestra. In fact I told them at Cal, "You're 
not getting any more money from me for my place in the South Seas 
unless you perform that." That's the UC Symphony. 

The people at the Symphony realized I was someone who knew 
something about music. Members of the board don't necessarily know 
a lot about music. 



151 



Gump: The funny thing is that the Wilburs Brayton Wilbur, Jr. was the 

president of the Symphony and Judy Wilbur was president of the Asian 
Art Museum, which I was also interested in. So I went to their 
house quite often, I would think I was there for Symphony people, 
then I'd find out that I'm there for the Asian Art thingl 

H 

Gump: This woman Nancy Bechtle gave me a lift home the other day. I got 

on the subject of the Conservatory and how wonderful that auditorium 
[Hellman Hall] is, and she said, "Well, you know, my family paid for 
that." I said, "Oh." She's the daughter of Marco Hellman III, whom 
I knew very well actually. In fact, I went to school with him. I 
went to Grant School with him. 



Richard Gump's King Lear 

Riess: You said the UC Symphony did a performance of your King Lear? 

Gump: Yes. The UC Symphony did it, reading it cold. If you hear it I 

could let you have a cassette of it. But I particularly want see, 
I wrote two other scores for that same idea. That was the third 
attempt at this subject of King Lear. I didn't like the others. 
This was the third one and I thought, well, if those the reason I 
did that wasn't to hear it but just to make sure. I was going to 
throw it out the window the hell with this subject after the third 
time. But after I heard it I thought, "This is pretty good. I'll 
keep it, I'll go ahead and do it." 

I'm pretty sure if the San Francisco Symphony doesn't do it I 
can get the Santa Barbara Symphony to do it. I'm pretty sure. The 
cellist lives in Santa Barbara, and I met him in of all places the 
American Consulate in Florence. He was there with another fellow; 
they were traveling through Europe. 

Riess: It's a cello concerto? 

Gump: No, it doesn't have more than one movement, it's a tone poem. 

Actually a great composer said, "What do you call it?" I said, "I 
don't know." He said, "I say call it a tone poem." 

Riess: What will you present to Steinberg then? The cassette? 
Gump: Yes, the cassette with the score. 

Riess: When you give a piece of music to the Symphony to perform, do they 
have eny rights to edit or arrange the music at all themselves? 



152 



Gump: No. They would have to go over it with me. 

I've got some changes I want to make on the original after 
hearing it. Some things are too slow and some too fast. I'll give 
you an idea. I use a bassoon to describe the Fool. That's a very 
important character in King Lear, as you know, because he's a 
philosopher, soothsayer, and clown, all three. So I have the two 
bassoons playing in different themes, you see. The one bassoon with 
the clown is written at the wrong speed in my score, which I'll tell 
Steinberg right away. It's written so that it sounds [begins to hum 
tempo, syncopated and moderate], something like that. But I realized 
it should be double time so it would sound like a clown [humming 
rhythm again, speeds up tempo], like that, on the bassoon particularly. 

The bassoon has one line in there when King Lear says toward 
the end, "They'll kill my fool." I use something that I don't think 
has been done. I absolutely choke. On the bassoon when you press 
your lips hard it makes it go sharp. And so it's just as if the 
rope's around his neck. But that didn't come out on the cassette 
because they just played right through it, you see. Then also the 
various daughters have their own instruments. For instance, one of 
the daughters, Goneril I think it is, or Regan I'm not sure which 
one . [siren starts wailing on street outside] (That's going to 
be fine on the tape. That's my audience screaming!) 

Riess: Do you think that the University Symphony did a good job on it? 

Gump: I asked them because I got to know Glen Grant in the Chancellor's 
Office quite well, because he went down to the South Seas on the 
idea about giving that property to UC.* I said, "You can do me a 
great favor." [referring to the UC Symphony performance of King 
Lear] 

Maestro Dominick Argento who is head of the music department of 
the University of Minnesota, he is a very famous composer. Boosey 
and Hawkes, the famous publishers of music, do everything he writes. 
He had written an opera based on Casanova which will be performed in 
Washington early next year. He's the one who said, "You have to 
call it something. Call it a tone poem." Also he was who told me 
that any orchestra composed of members of a university like the 
University of Minnesota would be able to play it right off. 

That's why I asked Glen Grant about that. I said, "First I 
want to hear what they do." So he put on a cassette of the UC 
Symphony playing Stravinsky's Rite _of Spring. Sacre du Printemps. 
In my work there's a place where I have a synthesizer part, very 



*See Appendices. 



153 



Gump: bass. It's to be played very low and be very loud. You can have 
all the double basses in the world and they can only play up to 
certain decibels. But if you use a synthesizer I think they did 
the recording in the gym over at Cal and for the synthesizer part 
they had a guy play the organ, which was all right. 

I remember, speaking of that recording, calling my copyist from 
Bad Gadstein I was there in the snow and I asked him about how it 
was coming. He said he had a lot of people working for him, doing 
the parts. You can't just write out the score and not have the 
parts. So evidently the thing works very well. I said, "You'd 
better be sure they tie up. How are you going to know until they've 
played it through?" Anyway, it seems to be okay. If there's some 
part that's lousy I'll blame the copyist. I won't say it's my music 
when Steinberg hears it. 

Oh, there's another thing that's problematic. There are some 
pizzicato violins in there that have to be entirely different. That 
can't go on. And another thing, the solo cello I have a long solo, 
when he first speaks it's about a minute and a half long, the cello 
alone. I need another one, not that long, maybe half that long, for 
the cello alone, again. He hasn't got the cello alone often enough. 
Although he has a lot of playing all through the thing. 

Riess : What person does the cello represent? 

Gump: King Lear. And the various daughters are represented by I'll give 
it to you. [Gump shows Riess his program notes for King Lear.] We 
can make a photostat of these. 

Riess: Oh. Let me just read it quickly into the tape recorder, and then 

you don't have to make a photostat. "I attempt to give the mood of 
early England in the opening of my tone poem based on King Lear. 
Lear is the solo cello. The toadying sisters, Goneril (clarinet) 
and Regan (oboe), sing pleasing flattery to the senile monarch. But 
the sincere character of his daughter Cordelia is expressed in true, 
simple devotion in plain, unadorned melody (alto flute). This 
infuriates Lear, but she is defended by Earl of Kent who is heard 
throughout (French horn). The Fool is depicted by the bassoon in 
his many moods of joy, soothsayer, and philosopher. The listener 
can do his own imagining of the various conflicts and the King's 
wild reactions to his surroundings. As in the play, towards the end 
Lear becomes sane and begs Cordelia's pardon. After this touching 
duet he once more regains his royal bearing before his final 
struggle and quiet death." 

"Further note: I have avoided the secondary plot and only 
tried to give in music the principal dramatic situations in what 
many believe to be Shakespeare's greatest play. Richard Gump." 



154 






Gump: And then you have a note here on April 8. 1982: "Maestro [Michael] 
Senturin shows a fine command of the UC orchestra in this first 
recording, as Jeffrey Rutkowski gives a very sensitive rendition on 
the solo cello." 



Let me add to that that Rutkowski does work out of Santa 
Barbara, where he lives. And I must mention that Boris Blinder, who 
never gives out compliments, he said, "Oh, you have a very good 
cellist here." Literally I've never heard him say anybody was any 
good, except Boris. So I had a really tough guy say it's very well 
done. That's why I don't care whether the San Francisco Symphony 
does it, but they should get Rutkowski to do it because he worked 
like hell on it. It's not easy, you know. He missed one cue he 
came in one little place too soon, but that's nothing. I worked out 
piano arrangements and everything else for him to work with. 



Seven Variations on an American Theme 



Riess: Well, would you say it's your most major work? 

Gump: The Seven Variations is major. That's a much bigger orchestra. In 
King Lear I cut out the trombones and the cellos. The reason for 
that is the low notes of the horn sound very primitive. When you 
hear the opening you'll see right away. I know they sound awful 
rough, the low notes alone. The horn plays very low and a lot of 
people don't use it that low. 

Riess: Your major work, Seven Variations on an American Theme, was 
performed in Marin, in Sacramento, Honolulu, Fort Wayne. 

Gump: Is Oakland on that list? Oakland did it also. You've heard of 
Oakland, haven' t you? 

Riess: Yes, I've heard of Oakland. 

Gump: People talk about Auckland, New Zealand, I think they're talking 

about Oakland. When you're down in the South Seas it's very funny. 
Is Oakland in there? 

Riess: No, it doesn't mention that Oakland also performed it. This was all 
in the mid-fifties. Has it continued to be performed? 

Gump: I haven't given it out. The Seven Variations _on an American Theme 
I won't tell you what the theme is until you hear it. I'll play it 
for you. I made some pressings; there are records of that, with the 
Honolulu Symphony. [George] Barati did a marvelous job of 
conducting them. George Barati is known here because he played in 



155 



Gump: the cello section of the Symphony quite a few years ago. Boris 
says, "How can he conduct?" But actually he was an excellent 
conductor. 



[Telephone interruption] 
Riess: Did you ever consider doing anything under a different name? 

Gump: Yes, I did when I was young because in those days you couldn't use 
Anglo-Saxon names. I remember that instead of "Richard Gump" I was 
trying to use Giovannovic or some name like that, to sound Polish or 
Russian or German which was always very popular in the thirties or 
twenties. Nobody liked to use a name like for instance, one of the 
heads of the Metropolitan Opera whose name was Edward Johnson he 
was made director of the Met [1935-1950]. He was a tenor. But he 
was one of the first guys to use an Anglo-Saxon name, an Anglicized 
name.* I thought of funny names. But I don't know what that's got 
to do with your question. 

Riess: Well, my question is whether you tried to hide the fact that you 
were Richard Gump. 

Gump: No, I didn't. But when I was introduced, or in the program notes, 
it'd always say, "The designer for Gump's," or "The president of 
Gump's," whatever. Whatever happened to come along. They would 
usually say that because it lends more color. It doesn't lend color 
to my music, it lends more color to the personality. 

Riess: Right. 

Gump: In the Seven Variations I used everything but the kitchen sink in 
that one. There have to be three bassoons, clarinets bass 
clarinet, E-flat clarinet there are all these various instruments. 
Most symphony orchestras have all those, you see. 

Riess: "The Gift of December?" 

Gump: That's male choir. Schirmer published that, but I don't think they 
promoted that. 

Riess: Did you make money on your music? 



*Edward Johnson, a Canadian tenor and manager, debuted in Padua in 
1912 as "Eduardo di Giovanni," according to Oxford Dictionary of 
Opera. Oxford University Press, 196A. 



156 



Gump: No. Well, Mrs. Graham could tell you that. I got a check for $3.57 
for something tha'. was played in Japan. There's one popular tune 
Jim. who works for me, used to ship out on the Matson Lines, and he 
said, "My God, I learned to close my ears to that Hawaiian music." 
They play an awful lot of it. 

Riess: That's the "My Tane?" [See p. 73] 
Gump: Yes. 



C Model Steinway 



Gump: Here's a funny story: a friend of mine in Hollywood was doing a 
movie. I knew the leading lady quite well. In fact "well" is 
putting it mildly, she was my girlfriend. Anyway, I wrote this 
thing about gauchos on the Pampas, you know. It was a tango. They 
said that's fine but I had to change it into a Legionnaires' March 
overnight I I did! See, it was funny. All that, "Drroomp, dum/da- 
dum, dum." [humming the rhythm] That's the tango. You have to be 
[humming again] "Drroomp-2-3-4." The real tango, emphasis on the 
downbeat. 

Harry Rebel, who was a famous songwriter "Love in Bloom" is 
one of the things he wrote. He wrote a lot of big hits. Rebel and 
Gordon. Anyway, Harry Rebel was over at my place. I saw how he 
placed the bass emphasis on the piano. I learned that from him. I 
just watched how he did it. 

I can show you on that one [referring to his piano]. It's a 
marvelous piano. It's a sacrilege to play that sort of stuff on it. 
I think it is one of the best pianos in the world. It's the C Model 
[Steinway], which is the next size before the concert grand. The 
concert grand is nine feet, this is seven foot one. There's no 
point in having a concert grand. 

Riess: The C Model Steinway. 

Gump: Yes. It's made in Hamburg. This fellow Fenton from here goes over 
and picks out certain ones. He can hear the difference because he 
tunes them all the time. That's included in the price, which is 
high as hell. But it's worth it because I play it and I think I'm 
awfully good. That thing is marvelous for tone. I'll play a few 
notes for you. 

Riess: Fenton, the fellow who bought it for you, who is he? 



156a 



IMPORTANT COMPOSITIONS BY RICHARD GUMP, AND THEIR PERFORMANCES 



Polynesian Impression 

Clarinet Quintet 
Violin and Piano Sonata 
Sonata for Oboe and Piano 



The Gift of December (cantata 
for male choir) 



Seven Variations on an American 
Theme (symphony) 



Fantasia for Four Hands 



Nocturne at Angkor Wat (string 
quartet) 



Honolulu Symphony, Dec. 19, 1940 
Oakland Symphony, May 10, 1942 

Music Lovers Society of San Francisco 
California Composers Forum, Dec. 9, 1941 

Schipilitti and William Grant Still, 
concert in Southern California. Also in 
private performances as an oboe quintet. 
Merrill Remington and a string quartet of 
the San Francisco Symphony 

Uda Waldrup and male choristers, Palace 
Hotel, San Francisco, Dec. 14, 1948; 
Loring Club, SF, Dec. 1949, 1951, 1957; 
Indiana University, Dec. 1949; Oakland 
Orpheus Concert, Aug. 16, 1952. 
Published by G. Schirmer, Inc., Nov. 1977 

Symphony Guild Orchestra of Marin, CA, 
Gastone Usigli, Nov. 22, 1953; Sacramento 
Philharmonic Orchestra, Fritz Berens, 
Nov. 19, 1954; Honolulu Symphony Orch., 
George Barati, Mar. 15, 1955, July 4, 
1957; Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, 
Igor Buketoff, Nov. 15, 1955. 

Milton and Peggy Salkind at San Francisco 
Museum of Art, Mar. 10, 1954, and other 
occasions since. Pacific Musical Society 
San Francisco Jan. 1956. 

Honolulu String Quartet, early 1941 



Safari (string quartet) 

Quintet for Oboe and Strings 

Come Vere the Band 1st Playing, RCA Victor LPM 1721, released 7/1/58 

Drink Mein Liebling Dein Bier, RCA Victor LPM 1453, released 7/1/57 

My Tane (My Man), a Tahitian Love Song, by August Goupil, Dick Gump, and 
Johnny Noble, published 1934 

Under a Spreading Coconu : Tree, Decca Records 
Impressions from Many Lands, Reflection Records, 1976 



156b 






Brief statement; 

"Depending upon the occasion, I have written in the twelve-tone scale and 
sometimes in classic harmony. It depends upon the audience and what form I 
consider the best for what I am trying to express. 

\ 

"I believe in using American melodic line, harmony and rhythm as thematic 
material, much as composers in other countries have used their native idiom 
for their schools of music, but never to make this obvious as Brahms never 
made his use of the Hungarian idiom too obvious. To me, a poor use of American 
themes is the "Rhapsody in Blue" in which the idiom controls the composition. 
In this same token, many of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies are romantic school 
examples of the Hungarian themes controling the composition. 

"There are times when my works are easily composed, such as the second 
movement to my 'Violin and Piano Sonata' which was written in twelve hours; 
on the other hand, the third movement to the same work took three months. 
I believe that an entire composition can never be wholly an inspiration but is 
a series of inspirations interspersed with hard work and technical skill. I don't 
believe that any music that is written seriously is either good or bad. It all 
depends upon the reaction of the listener. For we never can tell which works 
will eventually be great .... Aren't we all too close to the trees to see the 
forest?" 

-- Richard Gump 











Gimp : 



157 



He lives here. He has Rubinstein's piano that he had in Hollywood, 
you know, in southern California, the one he left there. He has 
that. And I think he's getting the piano that Gershwin had. His 
business is he goes over to Germany about once or twice a year and 
picks out the best one. They only make about ten or twelve of that 
model per year in Hamburg. 

I have another piano, an upright. Some of the workers left the 
Steinway factory in Germany and started their own little company 
called Steinweg, which means Steinway in German: "weg" is "way." 
And I have one of those uprights in Florence. It's a wonderful 



little piano, a terrific piano. 
That's the only trouble. 



This [C model] is very loud. 



Riess: Well, it certainly is a beautiful thing. I wish you would play it 
for me. 

Gump: I mentioned certain things. I can show you what I'm talking about. 
I can't play well, but I can show you that bass very easily. 

Riess: Well, the woman who's transcribing these tapes is a musician 
herself, so she'll do well. 

Gump: Yes, but she can't write the music. 
Riess: But she can go "oomph-pa" periodically! 
Gump: Oh, I see. "Drroomp-2-3-4. " [laughs] 



The Boys in the Guckenheimer Band 



Riess : 

Gump: 
Riess : 

Gump: 



Riess: 



Yes. I hate to leave your serious side and go to the Guckenheimers, 
but I want to hear about that music too. The date you started was 
1949? 

Yes, and I said earlier about how we happened to get started. 

You happened to get started, but how did you gather your gang 
together? 

Well, we asked this one guy who was working for us over there across 
the bay [Sausalito] when I had the place there. He knew a few 
people around Marin. So we got fellows living particularly in 
Sausalito and Marin County. There was Paul Faria, just up to see me 
the other day. He's a professional musician. 

[reading caption of picture;] "Interior designer of Gump's and leader 
of his own (non-Guckenheimer sounding) dance band." 



158 

Gump: That's right, that's correct. So he's really a professional 

musician as well as playing this nonsense. It was very good having 
him. 

You see, we were asked to make a record by RCA Victor. What 
happened was the first clarinet was late. He [Paul Faria] called up 
everybody to be there and then he didn't show up in time down at the 
union here. Local 6. So we played a number without our first 
clarinet. I said, "Well, our first clarinet is missing." "We don't 
care; that's bad enough that you can get in the union anyway. Seems 
to be typical of the German village band. That's all right, we 
don't need him," So he wasn't immortalized in the union, although 
he belonged, naturally, because he was a professional musician. 

Riess: You had three clarinets, two cornets, one flugelhorn, one tuba, one 
drum, one trombone. Is this modeled on anything else? 

Gump: Well, I'll tell you what it's modeled on. Years ago there was an 

enormous nightclub in Berlin before the Nazis took over. And one of 
the bands was a Bavarian group. You see, they had all these various 
groups. They had a western one. Various countries that had typical 
music. They had it in this great big Vaterland Place, That's the 
name of the nightclub. And it was an enormous building. 

Riess: It was called the Vaterland? 

Gump: Yes, Fatherland. I think it was Kempinski who owned it. He was a 
big hotel owner there. But anyway, when I was there I saw the 
little fat guy playing an E-flat clarinet and I thought, 'ee. 
that's amusing." So when my mother-in-law suggested to do a German 
band, I right away pictured that and figured out how to make music 
that way. 

If 

Gump: We got so good I'll tell you this much that the top music critic 
in Britain, he heard that we had this band down here he was up in 
Vancouver and he came down here especially to review us. Just by 
luck we were rehearsing the evening he came down. We were 
rehearsing in the store, you see, in our Porcelain Room. 

Riess: Yes, that's what I read. I couldn't believe that you would rehearse 
in those rooms! 

Gump: Well, there was nobody there, of course. It's after hours. 
Riess: I know, but you would shatter the china. 
Gump: Yes, probably. Maybe we did, I don't know. 



159 



Gump: Anyway, he came down there and he interviewed me. So I put on this 
fake German accent. Not too exaggerated because that makes it 
stupid. But I acted as if I said [imitating German accent], "You 
know, what we're doing is very important and you're telling the 
public and the world as a great critic that we're immortalizing a 
dying art form. That's what we're doing, we're immortalizing it." 
And I went over that nonsense very seriously, you know, what great 
music we were preserving for posterity and all that stuff. And he 
was interviewing me straight. 

It was on BBC just before Christmas that year. And he said you 
would be surprised. People called up and said, "What a terrible 
thing to havel" "A stupid German on the air," and all that. And he 
said the funny thing is that the people who didn't know music 
thought it was terrible. But he said that the great musicians in 
Britain all called him up and told him how wonderful it was. The 
musicians thought it was a great gag. His name was Jacobs, a very 
nice fellow. He told me that later when I was in London. I called 
him on the phone and found out this about the interview. Maybe I 
can get that, through BBC or something. I'd like to have it here. 



Sour, But Strict 



Riess: So you've always been a little "off" in all of the performances. 
That was always the way you would do it? 

Gump: Yes. Well, the two clarinets weren't tuned properly. [hums a tune] 
You know that, it's a famous song. 

Riess: [sings the lyrics to the song] "When you are in love..." 

Gump: Yes, that's the one. Well, we purposely tuned the two clarinets off 
and they were playing it in thirds, or in two-and-a-half s, I guess, 
whatever it is. Though it's very sentimental, see, when you have 
this duet. 

I did a lot of the arranging of the band. It was very easy to 
do. I knew how to take a piano score and transform it into our band 
very quickly. I'm no genius, I just had a method of doing it. 

But the whole trick in our band was this I'll tell you. They 
try to do this German band stuff and it doesn't come over. The 
whole point is you have to keep even tempo. Or ritardando, 
whatever; a rit, if you want. (A writ [laughs] of habeas corpus, I 
guess.) Anyway, if you have a slower or an increased speed it has 
to be very exact. The downbeat has to be very exact. Because 
that's very German, see. Any village band would be exact on that. 
Going sour doesn't matter. And that's the most important part. If 



160 



Gump: we didn't have exact tempo and we weren't really hitting on the beat 
we'd sound like a miserable 'ligh school orchestra jlaying for a 
third-rate football team. 

Riess: How much did you rehearse? Was it a big part of your life? 

Gump: Oh, we rehearsed quite a bit. I remember one guy I got to know him 
because he's a member of the same club that I'm a member of. I saw 
him again recently. He couldn't show up once; there was this tv 
program he didn't want to miss. I said, ''Okay, you won't miss that, 
but you'll be out of the band." The guy was a very good trumpet 
player. He was one of the original trumpeters for Horace Heidt's 
band. I told him, "Well, then, you're not in our band if you 
couldn't make it. It's hard enough to get these guys together, and 
then you can't make it. The hell with it." So he wasn't a member 
of the band anymore. Then he bumped into some members of the German 
band and he said, "I was so embarrassed." Isn't that a shame? I 
had to be very strict. [German accent] 

See, what we did we played the thing straight through 
perfectly, just reading it cold. Then I would tell them, "Now do 
this and that and the other. Ritard in here a little bit, and let's 
go over that. Let's bring out the clarinets here and the next 
refrain we'll repeat with the trumpets." They were all arranged 
that way. This group and that group, etc. That's what we 
rehearsed. I'd tell them what I wanted. You can't have ten people 
deciding what the tempo is going to be and what the dynamics are. I 
had to express that. Not that I knew more than other guys, but one 
person has to tell them. 

Riess: Sure, you were the conductor. It was your thing. You were 
Guckenheimer and the rest of them were all Schmidt. 

Gump: Have you got the stationery I made? 
Riess: Yes, I have it. 

Gump: Well, you can see what that is. I found some of the funniest names 
in the phone book. I looked up "Sen." A friend of mine, she said, 
"That's an awful thing to do. Remember what the Germans did to the 
Jews." I felt rather embarrassed. I didn't think that it would be 
insulting, you know. It had nothing to do with that madman Hitler. 

But we played for something they wanted to save the cable 
cars, so we played in the Fairmont Hotel lobby. And we got some old 
refugees coming up saying [imitating German accent], "Oh, that's so 
wonderful [dat's so vunderful]. We haven't heard that kind of music 
since we left Vienna (or we left Salzburg). We heard the wonderful 
sound of the peasants playing there. Oh, that brings back fond 
memories. " 



H>our ilraut 



President 

FRITZ GUCKENHEIMER 

Vice Presibents 

HEINRICH SCHAUMLEFFEL 
CRETCHEN SCHICKER 
RUDI 5CHIESSL 
HEDWIC SCHIFFMAN 
LL'DWIG SCHIMMEL 
FR1EDRICH SCHLOSSER 
L'TE SCHLUMBERGER 
ERNST SCHMIO 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMITT 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDER 
FRITZ SCHNEIDER 
OTTO SCHNEIDER 
LOTTE SCHNEIDER 
JOIIAN SCHNUTENHAUS 
LUDWIG SCHWERDT 
JOHANN SCHWINDT 

Board of Directors 

FRITZ GUCKENHEIMER 
HEINRICH SCHAUMLEFFEL 
GRETCHEN SCHICKER 
RUDI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFFMAN 
LIDWIG SCHIMMEL 
FRIEDRICH SCHLOSSER 
UTE SCHLUMBERGER 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMITT 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDER 
FRITZ SCHNEIDER 
OTTO SCHNEIDER 
LOTTE SCHNEIDER 
JOIIAN SCHNUTENHAUS 
LUDWIG SCHWERDT 
JOHANN SCHWINDT 

Boarb of Governors 

FRITZ GUCKENHEIMER 
HEINRICH SCHAUMLEFFEL 
GRETCHEN SCHICKER 
RUDI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFFMAN 
LUDWIG SCHIMMEL 
FRIEDRICH SCHLOSSER 
UTE SCHLUMBERGER 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMITT 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDER 
FRITZ SCHNEIDER 
OTTO SCHNEIDER 
LOTTI SCHNEIDER 
JOHAN SCHNUTENHAUS 
LUDWIG SCHWBRDT 
JOHANN SCHWINDT 




Cable Sb&ress 

DAMPFKESSELWERKE 



General Director 

FRITZ GUCKENHEIMER 




ilraut JBanb 



ITlusih Director 
Richard Gump 

Business Director 
Paul Firia 

TELEPHONE 

YUKON 2-1616 

CABLX ADDSSSS 
DAMPFKESSELWERKE 

On RCA Victor record* 



faptKONSTANTINOPEUTANISCHERLXXDOLESAKFEIFFERMACHERMEISTERGESELSCHAFT 

music Committee 



FRITZ GUCKENHEIMER 



HEINRICH SCHAUMLEFFEL 
GRETCHEN SCHICKER 
RUOI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFFMAN 
LUDWIG SCHIMMEL 
FRIEDRICH SCHLOSSER 
UTE SCHLUMBERGER 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 



OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMITT 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDER 
FRITZ SCHNEIDER 
OTTO SCHNEIDER 
LOTTE SCHNEIDER 
JOHAN SCHNITENHAUS 
LUDWIG SCHWtRDT 
JOHANN SCHWINDT 



Doarb of Trus 
FRITZ GUCKENHI 
HEINRICH SCHAL 
GRETCHEN SCHIC 
RUDI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFFV 
LUDWIG SCHIMM 
FRIEDRICH SCHLC 
UTE SCHLUMBER 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMI 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDEI 
FRITZ SCHNEIDEI 
OTTO SCHNEIDEI 
LOTTE SCHNEID! 
JOHAN SCHNUT: 
LUDWIG SCHWER 
JOHANN SCHWI) 

Guarantors 

FRITZ GUCKENH 
HEINRICH SCHAl 
GRETCHEN SCHIC 
RUDI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFF> 
LUDWIG SCHIMM 
FRIEDRICH SCHLI 
L'TE SCHLUMBEK 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMI 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDEI 
FRITZ SCHNEIDEI 
OTTO SCHNEIDEI 
LOTTE SCHNEID! 
JOHAN SCHNUTI 
LUDWIG SCHWEII 
JOHANN SCHWI! 

Dot Holbcrs 

PRITZ GUCKENH 
HEINRICH SCHAl 
GRETCHEN SCHK 
RUDI SCHIESSL 
HEDWIG SCHIFFS 
LUDWIG SCHIMM 
FRIEDRICH SCHLI 
UTE SCHLUMBEH 
ERNST SCHMID 
FRIEDA SCHMIDT 
HUGO SCHMIDT 
KATI SCHMIDT 
LOTTE SCHMIDT 
OTTO SCHMIDT 
HANS SCHMITT 
WILHELM SCHMI 
OLGA SCHMITZ 
RUDI SCHMITZ 
EYKE SCHNEIDEI 
FRITZ SCHNEIDEI 
OTTO SCHNEIDEI 
LOTTE SCHNEID! 
JOHAN SCH. V VT1 
LUDWIG SCH r E 
JOHANN 



161 



Gump: "Nostalgic nonsense" would be a wonderful way of putting it naming 
another record. I had the rights for ':hree records for RCA V:.ctor. 
We made two records for them. They didn't do very well; we only 
sold about 30,000, I think, on the first one. 

Riess : Well, that's very good, isn't it? 

Gump: I don't know. No, not in the record business when they could spend 
a lot of time the same guys who do all that popular stuff recorded 
our stuff. In fact, as it says on the jacket of the record, they 
put the sound machine up in our Steuben Room, and then we played on 
the first floor, recording. 

Riess: Who found the costumes for the band? 

Gump: I found them in various places. Like the trombone player's was from 
a military school uniform. He had only to take the peak off to look 
like a German from the First World War. He had a washer up here for 
the insignia they used to have on the cap. Mine was a wonderful 
one. My jacket was way too short. That came from a Japanese 
admiral. One of our buyers picked it up in the Orient. It had a 
lot of wonderful embroidery on it. My helmet was a beautiful job 
from Bavaria with a Bavarian insignia you can always tell it, the 
insignia on the helmet itself. Also one of them had the uhlan the 
horse rider, you know, it's this square thing on the top. And you 
turn it over to give the horse water. 

Riess: What is the word? 

Gump: Uhlan, it's the cavalry of the German army. They all had spears, of 
course, in those days, at the beginning of the First World War. And 
then they found that it didn't do much good, they killed all the 
horses right away. The funniest one the trombone player had a pair 
of pants that fit perfectly on him. They were from an Indian 
viceroy. Those pants were from about 1820. If you look on the 
record cover you'll see him wearing them. They were a brilliant 
red. 



Good Times 



Riess: Why did the Guckenheimers come to an end? 

Gump: Finally we didn't have much more to do. We could have, but I had 
stopped working on it. I guess it's more my fault. 

One of the guys who was the funniest guy in the bunch, the 
fellow who played the flugelhorn, Dick Hiatt you have the 
inscription there unfortunately he died recently. God, he was 



162 

Gump: funny. I'll tell you how I know he was funny. Say we were playing 
for an opening of a Gump: market or something down in Palo Alto, 
when it was over and we would be breaking up and the band was 
walking out the little kids, maybe two, three, or five, six, eight 
years old, all would point to him and say, "Oh, he's the funny man! 
He's the funny man!" God, the guy is an absolute character! He was 
very talented. 

Riess : He was an architect? 

Gump: Yes, that's right. And he also painted very well. He understood 

the arts very well. A very sensitive guy, and God, he was funny. I 
told you about how he'd get the trombone player laughing so much 
because he couldn't play the darned flugelhorn properly. He was a 
good musician. 

When he was around seventeen years old he played viola in the 
San Francisco Symphony. I think it says it in there. But he 
couldn't play the flugelhorn properly. His lips weren't set for it. 
He had never practiced the darned instrument. He wanted to play 
certain notes and he would go like this [gesture], and they didn't 
come out the way he wanted, see. But it sounded wonderful. So the 
trombone player would get laughing. And I'd say, "Stop the 
orchestra." Even during our concerts, so called. "Wait a minute! 
If you want to laugh we do it in unison. We do everything in unison 
here now. We laugh in unison. None of this individuality with the 
laughter!" 

I went on like that. "All right, now we have our laugh: 'Ha, 
ha, ha, ha.' Fine! Now it's all in unison, it's fine. Now you've 
got the laugh out of you; now you get down to our serious music." 

There was one girl we heard sing. She had a wonderful voice. 
She was the daughter of the British consul, I think it was. She 
lived over in Ross, I think. After I heard her sing I made a 
special arrangement for her with the band backing her up. Of 
course, her voice has changed completely because that was when she 
was around ten. A very cute, pretty little girl, and she was very 
nice. There was a big garden thing over in Marin County. I wrote 
the band background for her. It came out very well. 

It doesn't matter how badly we played because it sounded very 
natural. But we had to be on the beat and not get mixed up. 
Because that's stupid, it's not funny anymore. 

Riess: What did you do with the money that you brought in? 
Gump: I divided it amongst the players. 
Riess: But you actually took the money. 



163 



Gump: Well, certainly. We belonged to the union, we had to. We never 
played for nothing. 

There are so many different places we played. We went up to 
Tahoe and we ended up in Virginia City with a duel between the tuba 
and the trombone in the main street about two in the morning, 
playing notes at each other and then answering, like they were 
dueling in the center of the street. 

Riess : You must have had the best time! 

Gump: Well, it was a lot of fun.* The other stuff you can get all keyed 
up about serious music and that stuff. I knew how to put it over. 






"Trink Dein Bier" 



Gump: There's one thing that was very interesting, from the psychiatric 

point of view. I'd find myself singing. "Trink mein liebling dein 
Bier." That's when I had a wonderful heldentenor. I'd hit a high 
A, you see. And I couldn't talk the next day. My voice was worse 
than it is now. 

This psychiatric thing. I told my psychiatrist. Dr. Norman 
Reider he's world-famous, one of the top psychiatrists in the U.S. 
I told him about it. I said, "You know, when I want approval I find 
myself mentally singing this number. Because every time I did it, 
it would bring the house down." Because it sounds so awful. (We 
put it on a 45 record, you know, the small record. ["Sour Kraut in 
Hi-Fi" for RCA] And it's also on a bigger one.) But it sounds awful. 



*Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band played numerous engagements over the 
years, three record albums, tv shows such as Arthur Godfrey, Ernie 
Ford, Arlene Francis' "Today Show," etc., grand openings of banks, 
art and garden fairs, holiday celebrations, winery celebrations, 
Oktoberfest, Monterey Music Festival, San Francisco Opera social 
engagements, Fol-de-Rol, etc., a presidential convention, and many 
worthwhile charity fundraisers. The commercial engagements were 
booked for at least the Union rates. The charity performances were 
at no charge. The Band donated its services for many years for 
special performances at the Salvation Army Christmas parties, Laguna 
Honda Home, and Childrens' Hospital. In some instances where the 
performances were not to be considered charity but a good civic 
cause, the Union would sponsor the engagement and pay the band from 
the Union transcription fund, which was established for worthwhile 
civic and charitable causes. [Paul Faria, business manager of the band.] 



164 



Gump: I've sung some other stuff. For instance, we do the "Stars and 

Stripes Forever" in German. I sing words that don't mean anything 
but they sound German. You have these German people saying, "It's 
wonderful the way he's singing it, but I don't get that German. I 
don't understand." It isn't anything. [recites some of the fake 
German lyrics] They think there's something wrong with their 
hearing aidl 

Riess: Was there a singing part in every one for you? 

Gump: No, not every one. Just the last one. If you look at the recording 
you can find out. 

Riess: What I was looking up before was the name of this song, "Trink mein 
liebling. " Is that actually the name of the song? 

Gump: Yes. 

Riess: Would you say it again slowly? 

Gump: "Trink, mein liebling, dein Bier." 

Riess: Yes. "Drink your beer, sweetie." 

Gump: "Ein, Zwei, Drei, und auf Vier. Forget all your 

troubles and deine Schmerz. Dein ist mein gauzes 
herz." That's all. "Bury your nose in the foam. We 
will never go home. Darling Gesundheit and Cheerio, 
Liebling I love you sol" 

Riess: Oh, it's wonderful I 

Gump: That was my big hit. But the thing is, that was always a big hit. 

I find when I'm looking for approval, you know, outside my own home, 
I find myself mentally singing that. It's a very interesting 
psychiatric thing, association. 

I don't want to spend too much time on the German band except 
it's an interesting thing. That's why the people say, "How's the 
German band?" They never say, "How's the music getting along?" 



Classical DJ 

Riess: I've read that Gump's sponsored opera broadcasts over the years. 

Gump: Yes. Not over the years, just certain years. And it was classical 
music, not opera. 






165 

Riess : On one of the radio stations? 

Gump: Yes. I was the first classical music disc jockey. 

Riess: You were, for one of the radio stations? 

Gump: Yes. Well, we paid for it. I did the work with another announcer, 
the two of us together. I talked very stupidly. The funny thing 
my sister said, "That's terrible what you're doing." And I said, 
"Oh, is that so?" 

One time I was just leaving to play golf from the store and I 
got a telephone call from Mrs. Koshland, one of the biggest backers 
of the Symphony. She called and said, "Mr. Gump, I wanted you to 
know how wonderful that program you have is." It always ended at 
midnight, that one hour from 11:00-12:00. "I can go to sleep by it. 
It's so wonderful, so amusing, too. You make some remarks about 
classical music that are so good." And here's a woman who devoted 
her life to that. In fact, she backed Yehudi Menuhin, I think, when 
he was just a kid. 

So I told my sister that evidently it's going over. You can't 
have the approval of anybody who's done more for music in this town. 

[Telephone rings] 

Then we sponsored KKHI. We had that for two hours on Sundays. 
I told them I didn't want any interruptions. Then I would call them 
up and raise hell with them because there was something on and I 
couldn't figure it out. It was Beethoven but I couldn't recognize 
what it was. And it was the overture it's very well-known, I'll 
tell you later plus all the other incidental music to the same 
great play by Goethe that Beethoven wrote the background music to. 

Riess: You mentioned Mrs. Koshland and Menuhin. When you were growing up 
did you know Yehudi Menuhin or any of the brilliant young musicians 
here? 

Gump: No. Well, just before the war I met Isaac Stern. He had made it or 
was just about ready to make it in '41. That's another person she 
helped, I think. But let's check and make sure about Yehudi. 

I had dinner with him and his wife at my attorney's home. He 
knows who I am. I said, "I have a sonata for piano and violin that 
maybe you might like to play." He said, "Well, leave the music at 
the Mark Hopkins." I did, but I never heard from him. I know he's 
not rude, so maybe the hall porter who I gave it to at the Mark 
didn't give it to him. That's all right; I don't care. 



166 



The Gimps and Asian Art 



Gump: I bought these books on Baroque architecture printed in Austria just 
this year in Vienna. And I found an amazing coincidence. The Gumps 
were a family of designers. They were very famous around Innsbruck. 
In fact. I had my picture taken on the Gumpstrasse. (It's Gumpp in 
German. I don't know how you pronounce the double pp in German. Of 
course Gump, nobody can pronounce the name right anyway.) 

But anyway, I found that they did some Oriental influence, 
decoration, in a little pagoda in the garden of a castle. I think 
it's in the garden of Nymphenburg Castle. The Gumps were 
influential with Oriental stuff back for the King of Bavaria! That's 
a funny coincidence. Maybe it's in the blood. I don't know. 

Riess: It was definitely an influence in San Francisco. If one were to do 
the history of the Asian Art Museum would you say that you would 
have to begin with your father's imports? 

Gump: Oh, yes, sure. My father and Mr. Newell. In fact Newell told me 

he picked out some big jade pieces in Japan. Nobody knew about these 
big hunks of jade. They knew about the jewelry but not the big 
decorative pieces. And he picked those up in Japan very cheap. They 
had them in a bicycle, I think he told me. I've forgotten exactly. 

But anyway he brought them in and that's how we started this 
famous Jade Room. I'll explain that. You see, as things came in 
they decided they ought to build rooms. That was before the Fair in 
1915, as I mentioned earlier. So they built rooms for various 
things. There was a Lacquer Room. (Not lack of room we had a lack 
of room later. [chuckles]) But then we had a Porcelain Room and a 
Bronze Room, and then a Kimono Room, which was fashion. And we had 
enough jade there so we had the Jade Room. That's how the Jade Room 
started, just dividing up subject material. You can't mix them up, 
which I said earlier was like when the Halls of Kansas City asked me 
for my opinion about their display and I said, "It's not 
coordinated." I was brought up with these rooms. We had also a Rug 
Room there, too. We had all that in our annex down on Post Street. 

Riess: So that's how the Jade Room came to be. 

Gump: Yes, the title itself. Then we had two of them because so many 

people wanted to see it that we finally closed the better stuff and 
showed them the stuff that's on the outside now. Now they've got 
both of them open. They're crazy to do that, because there's no 
exclusivity to going into the Inner Jade Room. 

Riess: There are a couple of names that I've come across in the history of 
local interest in Asian art. One person was Ching Wah Lee. He had 
taught some classes and had a shop. 



167 



Gump: Yes. What about him? 

Riess: Well. I just wondered and Rudolf Schaeffer I wonder whether these 
people influenced your interest in Asian art. 

Gump: No. I inherited the interest. That is very important to say, that 
I inherited this interest in Oriental art. My mother enjoyed it a 
great deal. Because, you see, Mr. Newell had this little shop in 
Chinatown. My mother went in there and he told her how interesting 
these things were, and the fact that they influenced Whistler. They 
influenced various great painters of the day. She found it 
fascinating, and he was a very fascinating person. So she told me 
she literally got on bended knees begging my father to hire Newell 
after the earthquake, which he finally did. Newell was about to go 
over to Shreve's. Anyway, he joined us in 1907 until his retirement 
in the '40s. It was he who got us into Oriental art in conjunction 
with Occidental art. (I don't know whether it was Occidental or on 
purpose right now. [laughs]) 

Riess: And Avery Brundage used to come into the shop? 

Gump: Oh, yes, sure. Why not? 

Riess: Was his interest developed here in San. Francisco? 

Gump: I don't think so, necessarily. It might have been. It might have 

been through us, although one-half of my jade book is Avery Brundage 
carvings. We purposely tried to make it as much San Francisco as 
possible. But I don't know if we got him interested in Oriental art. 

He also had some Etruscan things. I saw a whole bunch of the 
stuff he had piled up in the attic of a hotel that he owns in 
Chicago, on LaSalle Street. I looked at these iron things and I 
didn't want to ask him, because it sounds so stupid, I wanted to 
say, "Are those Etruscan?" I don't know where those things are now. 
They wouldn't be in an Oriental place. They're very rare Etruscan 
iron pieces he picked up. They're quite valuable and interesting. 

Riess: The people who were collecting Oriental art were they buying it at 
Gump's? Or were there other places? 

Gump: Locally? There were a few in Chinatown. But we had such a vast 

display of them, in the proper setting. That made a big difference. 
People could imagine them in an Occidental setting, you see. 

Riess: Who in Chinatown was importing comparably fine stuff? 

Gump: Well, it wouldn't be comparable because they wouldn't have bought 

that much. We were able to spend a lot more money than any smaller 
dealer. We had to have a lot because we had all these rooms. 



168 



Riess: So the dealers in Chinatown were always small compared to Gump's. 

Gump: Yes, the equivalent of about one room that we had. Size doesn't 

mean the thing's better because it's bigger. But we had all these 
things divided up in categories and it made it more interesting. 

Riess: Did you ever have any Chinese or Japanese employees in the store? 

Gump: Oh, yes, many in various jobs. We also had Chinese girls in 
costumes running the elevators [until automation]. 

The granddaughter of Baron Makato Hagiwara, the man who gave 
the city the Japanese Tea Garden, she worked for us in the store for 
quite a while. Haruko Hagiwara Matsuishi. She was very amusing. 
She had a sense of humor. I would speak to her in my broken 
Japanese and she would have hysterics. I would come up and say 
something to her in Japanese that was nuts. She would be waiting on 
a customer and start laughing and say, "You spoiled my sale. I was 
laughing too much." Of course, the customer wondered what I was 
saying in Japanese to her. Some silly damn thing. 



Gump: For instance, in Japanese: "Snakes are always naked." I just 

happened to think of that one.- It's a very philosophical saying. 
[laughs] You know, it's crazyl I would say something like that to 
her. I picked up Japanese working in Honolulu. The guys working in 
our shop there making furniture were Japanese. 



The Jade Book, and Buddhas 



Riess: So in 1962 the jade book was published. Was it based on your 
lectures? 

Gump: No, it was based on jade. 
Riess: But what came first? 

Gump: I'll explain. The people who did Gump's Treasure Trade, the 

publisher [Thomas Y. Crowell Company], wrote to me, "We think it 
might be good if you did a book on jade. But we want to see a 
sample of your work." So I told Mrs. Graham, "The hell with him. 
I'm not going to show him a sample of my work. All he has to do is 
read Good Taste Costs No More and he can see that I can write." 

Later on the president of Doubleday [Sergent] was in the store, 
whom I knew from Good Taste Costs No More. I said, "Listen, would 
you like me to do a book on jade?" He said, "It sounds like a 



169 



Gump: wonderful idea. I would say okay, but don't take that as final 

because I have to put it through with the board." But anyway, he 
said, "Certainly, a wonderful ideal" That's how I happened to do it 
for Doubleday. I was so mad at the other people, I did it for 
Double day. 

Riess: Did you do a lot of research for that book? 

Gump: Oh, yes, sure. Curt Gentry did research for me. He helped me with 
the book. He's the one who wrote Helter Skelter. It hit the Book- 
of- the- Month Club and he made a fortune on that. It's about that 
crazy family down in Hollywood who killed those people who was 
that? 



Riess: The Hansons. 

Gump: Yes, it was all about the Hanson trial. He worked with the D.A. of 
Los Angeles County. 



Riess: How did you get him for the jade book? 

Gump: I told Doubleday, "I need somebody to help me, because I'm running 
the store. See who you can get." So they got him right away. He 
and I are great friends now. 

Riess: You were a member of the Asian Art Society? 

Gump: Yes. That was the group that persuaded Brundage to give his 
collection. Now they can only show about 25 percent of the 
collection, because he bought so damn much of it. One time I walked 
in the entrance there and there were all these Indian stone pieces. 
They were wonderful. I asked Judy Wilbur, the president at the 
time, "Where did you get these wonderful stone things?" She said, 
"They're our own. We just brought them out of the basement. 
There's a whole exhibit. We can pick and choose the best ones and 
put them in the show. Our own, never shown before." That goes 
through there a lot. They could use a lot more room. 

Riess: You've already given many things to the Asian Huseum. haven't you? 

Gump: Yes. But I don't want to put that in there. It looks like I'm 
boasting about being so munificent. 

Riess: There is the great Buddha in honor of your father. Is that in the 
tea garden or in the museum? 

Gump: It's in the Japanese Tea Garden. It is to honor the Gump family, my 
father and his two brothers. 

Riess: I don't think it's boasting. 



170 



Gump: Well, that gift is okay, but not money. I don't want to mention money. 

That big Buddha is a very rare thing. It's a big bronze one, 
as you know. Somebody stole the halo, whatever they call that 
around the head. So we had to supply another one, a copy of that 
which we got from Japan. They don't make them by the dozen. We 
sent a picture to Japan and had a copy made. It cost quite a bit to 
do that in bronze. The bronze alone would be worth an awful lot. 
But I don't want to boast about my gifts. 



Epilogue 

[A few weeks after this last interview Mr. Gump left for an extended 
stay in Florence, Italy. While in Florence he edited the oral 
history transcript. He took the interviewer's request for further 
information on some subjects to heart and wrote, or dictated to a 
recorder, thoughtful answers. Those dictations or notes were added 
in the text. I have included, following, a part of the Florence 
dictation as epilogue.] 

Gump: You wanted a few ideas for titles. One could be "Muddling in 

the Mud." That would mean not only some of the horrible roads you 
have to walk but also the mud itself that becomes great porcelain. 
Who knows? 

Another title that might be good is, "Is it worth it?" That 
could be from the point of view, is this antique worth it? Or is 
the sweat that we go through to get these antiques worth it? Or is 
it worth it when you give it to somebody as a present? Do they 
appreciate it enough? Is the whole thing worth it? Sometimes I 
wonder if it is. Maybe that's why I sold the place. I got too 
tired of it. Who knows? 

Another theme that everybody knows and that gets in anybody's 
hair is, "Well now, when you're going over to Europe, will you 
please look around and see if you can find me a such-and-such." The 
title being, "Don't forget to get me a such-and-such." And then 
after you've gotten that such-and-such, your great friend says, 
"Well, that isn't the color I meant at all, and it's a different 
weave. And where did you get that? In Thailand? I told you you 
were supposed to get it over in Iran." Then you explain to them 
that Iran is not open at the moment. The whole thing gets twisted 
and the next you know you've lost a friendship because you didn't 
get the such-and-such. For the rest of your life you call that same 
person a such-and-such, and for good reason. Sometimes favors work 
out very, very disadvantage ously. 

Transcriber and Final Typist: Elizabeth Eshleman 




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171 



TAPE GUIDE Richard B. Gump 



Interview 1: June 12, 1987 

tape 1, side A 

tape 1, side B 

tape 2, side A 

Interview 2: June 18, 1987 

tape 3, side A 

tape 3, side B 

tape 4, side A 

tape 4, side B 

Interview 3: June 30, 1987 

tape 5 , side A 

tape 5, side B 

tape 6, side A 

Interview 4: July 10, 1987 

tape 7, side A 

tape 7, side B 

tape 8, side A 

Interview 5: August 18, 1987 

tape 9, side A 

tape 9, side B 

tape 10, side A 

tape 10, side B 

Interview 6: August 24, 1987 

tape 11, side A 

tape 11, side B 

tape 12, side A 

tape 12, side B 



1 
1 

10 
22 

30 
30 
36 
45 
55 

59 
59 
68 
76 

86 

86 

96 

103 

115 

115 
123 
134 
139 

143 
143 

151 
158 
168 



These page numbers are guides to listening to the tapes. It has not been 
practical to indicate all the inserted text. Therefore the listener will 
find some incongruities between tape and text. 



172 



Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 



University of California 
Berkeley, California 



Ken Koj ima 
AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN KOJIMA 






An Interview Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 
in 1988 






Copyright Q 1989 by The Regents of the University of California 



172a 






******************************** 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the University of California and Ken Koj ima 
dated 12 April 1988. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to 
The Bancroft Library of the University of California, 
Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for 
publication without the written permission of the Director of 
The Bancroft Library of the University of California, 
Berkeley. 

Request for permission to quote for publication should 
be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 
Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should 
include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, 
anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the 
user. The legal agreement with Ken Koj ima requires that he 
be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which 
to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as 
follows : 

Ken Koj ima, "An Interview with Ken Koj ima," 
an oral history conducted in 1988 by 
Suzanne B. Riess, in "Richard B. Gump: 
Composer, Artist, and President of Gump's", 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 
1989. 



173 



TABLE OF CONTENTS Ken Koj ima 

Background and Education 175 

Bureau of Customs 178 

A Network of Experts 180 

A Working Day 181 

The Florence Agreement 184 

Determining the Fakes 186 

Jades and Ceramics 187 

Travels with Richard Gump 189 

Other Experts 191 



X/H 



THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS 

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 

May 22, 1972 



FER TO 



Mr. Richard B. Gump 
c/o Concierge 
The Grand Hotel 
Florence, Italy 

Dear Mr . Gump : 

I am writing to thank you for the arrangements you made 
for Mr. Kenneth S. Kojima, my adviser in the appraise 
ment of imported fine arts and antiques, during his 
recent 'visit to Florence, April 29th through May 3rd, 
making it possible for him to see, firsthand, the makings 
of reproduction antiques and the restoration of paintings. 

Mr. Kojima has assured me that the knowledge he gained 
during this trip has enhanced his expertise in appraise 
ment and will directly benefit this office. Also, that 
admittance to all of these shops would have been 
impossible without your personal introduction. 

I want to particularly express my appreciation for your 
thoughtfulness in assisting Mr. Kojima; and also thank 
you for the many hours of assistance you have given our 
staff through the years. Your vast knowledge has been 
indispensable in helping to carry out our work efficiently, 

s 

Sincerely yours, 



George K. Brokaw 

District Director of Custons 




F CUSTOMS. PO BOX 2450, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 94126 



175 



Background and Education * 

Riess : Mr. Kojima, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself and 
how you got into this business. Where are you from? Where were 
you born? 

Kojima: I'm originally from Los Angeles. I went to high school in the 
midwest, and college in Washington, B.C. 

Riess: How come? That's a story. 

Kojima: During the war we were evacuated out of California. 

Riess: Your family was not interned in California? 

Kojima: We were interned in a camp in Colorado, and then we left from the 
camp and went east. I ended up in Georgetown. 

Mrs. K: You could tell about your family background, like you lost your 

father in '41 and your mother was by herself with a brood of five. 
Then you were all interned. You were the youngest boy of the 
family and went to high school in the midwest. 

Kojima: I finished high school in Rockford, Illinois during the war. 
Riess: What business was your father in out here? 

Kojima: My father did many things. He started a produce exchange in 

southern California. Then he went into the mining business. He 
bought a mine near Moab, Utah, and was trying to extract vanadium, 
which was used in conjunction with hardening steel. But vanadium 
went out because aluminum was preferred by industries. He died in 
early 1941. 

Riess: And your mother? 

Kojima: She was widowed at forty, with five of us, and her only assets were 
the house and my father's art collection. That was his hobby. 



Interviewed April 12, 19S8. 



176 



Mrs. K: I think your first interest probably stemmed from your father's 
vast collection of samurai swords. He became an expert and was 
very active in various Japanese sword clubs. He got some publicity 
on writings that he did for them. 

Riess: What was his first name? 

Kojima: His initials are J. I. Kojima. He died at the age of ffty-three 
with peritonitis. 

Riess: That was before the camps then? 

Kojima: Yes. When he died our finances were very low. My oldest brother 
was just out of high school, going to college. He had to quit 
college to work. Then the war came and we were all put into camps. 
From camp my brother left and got a job on a surveying team in 
Rockford, Illinois. He then called the rest of the family out 
there, where I finished high school. I went to college for a year 
and wasn't a good student. I was going just to go to school. At 
that time all the World War II veterans were coming back, a very 
serious group to compete against. In a year I got put on 
probation, so I joined the army for eighteen months. After service 
I went to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. 

Riess: How could you afford to go there? 

Kojima: Well, we had some funds from my father's sword collection so we 
could go to school. 

While I was in Washington, D.C. I boarded with the Halsey 
sisters. They were unmarried and from upstate New York and New 
York City. The elder sister, Olga, went to Wellesley and then to 
the London School of Economics. The younger sister, Marion, went 
to Smith, then went to Columbia to study Chinese, and then became 
an administrator for the Rockefeller Foundation in Peking. After 
that she worked in New York until she retired. Then she moved to 
Washington, D.C. to be with her sister. I met them at a party and 
they found out I was looking for a place to stay. Then they 
offered me a room in their home. 

My living there was an education because they were involved 
with American and English antiques and architecture. On weekends 
they took me with them on tours to historic homes in Virginia and 
Maryland, on the Eastern Shore and so on. 

Riess: So they were guides for you. Had you already decided to study art 
or something? 

Koj ima : No, no. 



177 

Riess: What were you studying at Georgetown? 

Kojima: Finances, commerce. I really got involved with arts and antiques 
through the Halsey sisters, who lived in a lovely Georgetown home. 

Riess: Did you have a rapport with the European and American antiques? 

Kojima: Yes. 

Riess: You felt something. 

Kojima: Yes, because you see there was an extension from my family where we 
had oriental antiques, and some western antiques, too. 

Mrs. K: And then Marion when she was in China collected some oriental art, 
and she had that in the house. You know, tapestries and other 
furniture and house furniture, lamps, various things. And I think 
you sort of lived with those. She knew about them and you got 
interested in talking to her about those things. Gradually it sort 
of seeped in, I think, through your relationships with them, 
probably by osmosis or whatever. 

Kojima: And, by the way, her good friend, her classmate at Smith College 
was Dorothea De Schweinitz, who was also involved with antiques. 
She also showed me different things about antiques. So did Ardelia 
Hall, another classmate, who was curator of fine arts at the 
Metropolitan Museum. 

Riess: What was it about you? 

Kojima: I don't know. Maybe my curiosity. 



Riess: Were you in any way a curiosity to them? Was it unusual to know a 
young Japanese student? 

Kojima: No, I guess because they've seen a lot of Orientals. For some 
reason they took a liking to me. 

Mrs. K: You told me once, too, that the two Halsey sisters were very much 

interested in international student movements and they had students 
living at their place from time to time. They became very 
personally interested in you. 

Kojima: Well, that's one of the reasons, yes. 
Riess: Did you have dinners with them? 

Kojima: Yes, usually on weekends. Then they would have interesting guests 
from all over the world, and they would include me for dinner with 
them. I learned a lot there. 






178 



Riess: That's quite a wonderful beginning for anyone. What was the next 

step? 

f 

Kojima: Well, then I worked for the government for a while. 
Riess: What job did you take in the government? 

Kojima: Well, I went on a job in the Railroad Retirement Board, working in 
the actuary department. Then I was transferred to Chicago. This 
was in 1958. While in Chicago I happened to run across an old 
girlfriend that I knew at Northwestern, we just happened to run 
across each other, and Jayne [Kojima's wife] was with her. This is 
how we met. We found out later that we were in school the same 
time. 



Bureau of Customs, Arts and Antiques Section 

Kojima: Then I was transferred over to customs [Bureau of Customs, 
Department of the Treasury] because there was a person from 
Georgetown that was head of the Customs Office in Chicago. He 
hired me. 

Riess: You mean a classmate? 

" 

Kojima: No. He was an alumnus. 

At that time Jayne was working for Japan Air Lines. Then she 
became pregnant, and then we lost the chili She wanted to do 
something different, so she worked for the Art Institute in 
Chicago. Both of us went to school at the Art Institute in 
Chicago. 

Riess: Night classes? 

Kojima: Night classes, in art history. 

Riess: Was it European art history? 



Kojima: European, and primitive. 

Then when I went over to Customs, they had a section there 
covering arts and antiques. It's one of the few jobs in the 
government where they have an arts and antiques section. That 
office is responsible for all the arts and antiques that enter 
through that port, in order to verify and authenticate the items 
coming through. 

Riess: Chicago is a port? 






179 



Kojima: Yes. And there were only about a dozen ports where you could bring 
in antiques at that tine. The law was very rigid. San Francisco 
was one, Los Angeles was another. New York, Boston, New Orleans. 
So different people were stationed at different ports to examine 
all the art work and antiques. 

Riess: One person at each? 

Kojima: Yes. So with the background that I had not so much college but 
from the Halsey background and from my family and from the Art 
Institute the boss in Chicago said, "Hey, we should try to get you 
into the art and antiques field." 

Riess: Had you had a predecessor there? 

Kojima: Well, there was a man there that wasn't going to leave, you see, 
because he loved the job. Then there was an opening in San 
Francisco where there was a rumor that this fellow in antiques was 
going to retire. So I took a chance and I bid on the San Francisco 
office that was opening a different position, and I got that. 



Riess: You bid on the job? 






Kojima: You bid on the location. There was an opening in San Francisco. 

It wasn't in the antique field, but it was in the same department. 
So when the job opened up I put a bid on it, and I was accepted. 
I was transferred to San Francisco in 1963. Then a year later, 
this man retired and I filled his job. 

It's an awesome job, because you're supposed to know 
everything, all antiques, regardless of origin. And that's an 
impossible task. 

Riess: What's the official definition of an antique? 

Kojima: Well, at that time it had to be made prior to 1830. They used that 
date, 1830, because they felt that was the beginning of the 
Industrial Revolution. 

Riess: Oh, and has that date slid forward in time? 

Kojima: As far as antiques are concerned, in customs it used to be 1830 but 
now it's a hundred years from the date of the importation. They 
changed the law about twenty years ago. 

Mrs. K: You might say something about how much you learned once you got 
into the area. You went to school, you went to classes, you 
studied all that. And then, what do you call it? The Furniture 
History Society, you became a member of in London. 



180 

Riess: Yes. How did you start? Was there a set of books that you worked 
from and pictures and diagrams? 

Kojima: Well, you really started with the actual shipment in front of you 

for you to determine* Then you have to ask yourself, is this older 
than 1830? If so, why? You have to ask all kinds of questions. 
This is where people like Richard Gump have been very helpful to 
me. His office was always open to me. We also had a basic library 
in the office, plus magazines on antiques. 

Riess: Did they test you for the job in any way? Or did they just assume 
that if Chicago said you were good, then you were? 

Kojima: Well, they assumed that if you wanted the job you would learn 
on the j ob. 

One thing I should mention is that Jayne has been a big help 
to me, because she has a good art background. It includes 
paintings, and she had a lot of schooling in art. So I could come 
back with homework and she would help out. 

Riess: When you say "art and antiques," what is the distinction? Were you 
the customs officer for all art work too? 

Kojima: It had to be an original work of art. We had a little clause in 

the art law saying that if it's a work of art and at the same time 
an item of utility, it would be excluded as a work of art. In 
other words, Faberge material were all utilitarian pieces, so they 
wouldn't be considered a work of art. And then when it comes 
through we'll say, "Oh no, that's a glass container. You have to 
pay duty on that." And usually the items are very expensive and 
involve a lot of money in duties. 



A Network of Experts 

Riess: Let's go back to what Jayne has brought up. Once you got into the 
job you continued to study? 

Kojima: Yes, on our own mostly. Then we tried to develop contacts, like 

Richard Gump and others with expertise, as well as the curators at 
the museums. And they all cooperated. 

Riess: A big part of your job was creating that network of experts? 

Kojima: Yes. And you had to know who to go to. Whenever you ran across an 
identity problem, then you would ask, now who would be 
knowledgeable in this line? Well, the field of antiques covers a 
wide area. Anything could be an antique that was made prior to 



181 

Kojima: 1830. Usually the curators in museums were specialized themselves; 
whether it was in statuary, sculpture, or even paintings, they 
would have expertise in certain periods, certain schools. A lot of 
times they would say, 'Veil, we just don't know." But at the same 
time I had to know. Somebody had to be an expert or have good 
knowledge of an item. The museum people would give me the names of 
private collectors that they knew and I would contact them. 

To my surprise, it was usually the housewives that were collectors 
who had developed their own expertise. And they were excellent. 
Usually they were college graduates who knew how to do research. 
And they had the time and means to develop hobbies of their own. 

Riess: Well, like the women, for instance, who would be docents at the 
museums? 

Kojima: Yes, sometimes. But they were usually very private people. I 

would look them up, and when I explained my problems they said, "Oh 
sure, we would be happy to share our knowledge." 

Riess: Yes, of course they would, how flattering. 

A Working Day 

Riess: Tell me how an importer works with the Customs Office. Let us say 
I have brought in a shipment, and I need your stamp on it. 

Kojima: Well, I would either inspect your shipment at a Customs station or 
on your premises. The shipment would be sealed until I came to 
examine it. Richard Gump had most of his shipments done that way. 
He didn't trust anyone else opening it. He would have it brought 
in sealed. When I got there, then they would break the case open. 

Riess: What are the consequences if he opens it without your being there? 
Kojima: Well, a heavy penalty and/or possible seizure of the shipment. 
Riess: But who knows that he received it in the first place? 

Kojima: His broker posts a bond on the shipment to let us know when and 
where it will be ready for examination. 

Riess: Tell me what the route is into Gump's, coming to Gump's from Deacon 
and Company, or whatever agent. 

Kojima: Gump would hand all the shipping papers over to his broker, Harper- 
Robinson. When the shipment came in. Harper-Robinson filed customs 
entry. The entry form would include a complete itemized invoice 



182 



Kojima: and all pertinent papers. Then that would all be classified 
according to our tariff book. The tariff book looks like a 
Manhattan phone book. Everything is spelled out. They have to 
list every item that he purchased to the proper tariff 
nomenclature. Antiques would be in Section 766. Works of art 
would be in Section 765. With the entry they would request that it 
be examined on the importer's premises. 

Riess: An individual who goes to Hong Kong and brings back antiques, they 
come in through ordinary Customs? 

Kojima: If they claim antiquity and if it's valued at $500 or more, then 

they'll have to leave the item at the Customs inspection point for 
later pickup. 

Riess : Then do you suddenly appear? 

Kojima: I do at the first chance I get. They have to wait for me to clear 
it or waive antiquity and pay duty. Sometimes I would be out of 
town and the examination would be delayed. 

Riess: It does not sound like a one-man job. 

Kojima: It is a busy job. The premise examinations went as far as Utah and 
Nevada. 

Riess: Really? You would go to the premises in Utah and Nevada? 

Kojima: Yes. And then they would pay for my transportation back and forth, 
because it's for their convenience. Otherwise, we'd open it in San 
Francisco. 

Riess: And now you're saying that the reason that you needed to make these 
contacts with the museum people is that you might open it at Gump's 
and still be puzzled on one or two items. 

Kojima: Yes. 

Riess: And then that person from the museum will come over? 

Kojima: Not always. I'll explain to them what it was, and then they would 
be able to identify the item. 

Riess: On the telephone? 

Kojima: Yes, or in person. I used to carry a Polaroid camera with me and 
take pictures, and take the pictures to the museum for their 
opinion. Or I could do research. The important thing was that 
whatever they told you, you always checked out. A lot of times it 
might be something else. So you would sort of double-check. And 
in double-checking you learn something more, and it just mushrooms out 



183 

Riess: This is how you get your expertise. 
Kojima: Yes. right. 

Riess: You must be a great diplomat to handle that double-checking without 
offending. 

Kojima: Well, you try to be. but sometimes it didn't work. Sometimes they 
would know only the styles of items. So they would buy the style, 
but it could be a reproduction, you see. 

Riess: You mean, they might buy it over there or buy it sight unseen? 

Kojima: They'll go over there and they'll buy it, because they say, gee, 

that's of this style. But items of that style could have been made 
all along, until yesterday, until today. So you could have bought 
one piece that was made after 1830. When I would tell them so, 
they would be highly insulted. 

Riess: Because then they would get stuck with duty. 

Kojima: With duty and a penalty. 

Riess: And their own foolishness, yes, at the same time. 

Kojima: If we turn you down, you pay normal duty as if it were a new item, 
plus a 25% penalty. So that 25% used to hurt. 

Riess: Now. these imports were coming in by ship, by train, by plane, by 
truck. What is the central gathering place then? 

Kojima: Well, it could be at different areas. We have this thing called 

bonded warehouses, or customs bonded areas. Let's say, if it came 
from Canada it would be sealed, coming in from Vancouver. We would 
file the preliminary papers along the border. Then the shipment 
would come directly down to San Francisco, and you would go to a 
certain terminal. It would be off-loaded at that terminal, and it 
would have to be processed with Customs. This is the way we had 
control over the items. If it came off a ship it had to go to a 
certain area. If it came in by containers, which most of the 
shipments come in by, then they would seal those containers to make 
sure it's not opened. If the seal is ever broken, then they would 
have our agents make an investigation on that. 

Riess: What was your headquarters? 

Kojima: The Customs Office on Battery Street, but most of the time I would 
leave from home for different jobs. I used to cover a big 
territory, so if I had to be in San Jose I would leave from home. 
Sometimes I wouldn't get back to the office that day. 



ISA 



Riess: Was your life ever threatened in that job? 

Kojima: No. though somebody might jokingly say, "I'll punch you in the 
nose. 

Riess: Were people trying to put something over on you? Or was it 
ignorance on their part? 

Kojima: No, it was mostly ignorance. But also there were times when I 

thought I knew and found out later that I was wrong. So it worked 
both ways. With importers I always felt that if I couldn't 
determine that it was not an antique, then I would give the benefit 
of the doubt to the importer. 

Riess: If you don't pass it? 

Kojima: Then he could protest through our court, the Customs Court and 

Patent Appeal. The judges come from the New York office several 
times a year to try our cases. 



The Florence Agreement 

Riess: Somehow I think that you should have to pay more for bringing in an 
antique. 

Kojima: No. We have always allowed free entry for arts and antiques. It 
wasn't until the Florence Agreement that the trading nations got 
together to allow reciprocal free entry for arts and antiques. 

Riess: When was this? 

Kojima: The Florence Agreement itself, I think, was in the 1950s. 

Riess: If I found the Elgin marbles and could get them into this country, 
all I would have to do is pay for the weight and shipping costs? 

Kojima: It would come in free of duty. Because, you know, the marbles are 
over a hundred years old. 

Riess: But at the point of origin there are restrictions on the exporting 
of antiques. 

Kojima: Yes, especially in the South American countris and the Iron Curtain 
countries. 

Riess: I begin to think of certain pieces of furniture and works of art as 
endangered species. Are there enough protections? 



185 

Kojima: Yes. for Central American, pre-Columbian art. 
Riess: Well, what if it was the last Chippendale chair? 

Kojima: In fact, England does have restrictions. If an item is considered 
a national treasure it allows an English citizen to match the price 
paid by a foreigner to prevent it from leaving the country. 

Riess: Interesting. You wouldn't be aware of that aspect of it, or would you? 

Kojima: Well, we worked with Interpol, and if they felt that it left the 
country without the approval of the English government or without 
the approval of the Beaux Art in Paris, then they would contact us. 
Then we would have to wait for the shipment to come in, and we 
would have to double-check to see that it wasn't a contraband piece. 

Riess: I see that Mr. Gump was on the Department of Commerce's Import 
Advisory Commission [1946-1948]. What is that? 

Kojima: I think that was the Foreign Assets Control. But it was before my 
time. 

i 

Riess: What does Foreign Assets Control mean? 

Kojima: When the communists took over China I think that was 1948 the 
Foreign Assets Control says that anything that came out of China 
subsequent to 1948 would be illegal without a Foreign Assets 
Control license. They wouldn't issue a license for Chinese goods 
after 1948. So if you had something from China, like a Ming vase. 
you had to prove that it left China prior to 1948. I think that 
Mr. Gump was involved with the Foreign Assets Control as an advisor 
because he was involved with China and knew the trade inside out. 

Riess: Were the Asian countries party to the Florence Agreement? 

Kojima: No. I believe they were observers only. It's usually the western 
countries that adopted the Florence Agreement, which defined 
antiques a hundred years from the date of importation. 

Riess: Are there special laws that apply to primitive art? 

Kojima: Well, in the case of primitives we have the National Treasures Act. 
If a country felt that they were losing all their national 
treasures, like pre-Columbian art, they would enact laws 
restricting the exportation of those items, only allowing items 
that are licensed by that country to leave with exit permits. 

Riess: And if they arrive here you confiscate them? 

Kojima: If we had an agreement with that country we would honor it by 
confiscating the item. 



186 



Determining the Fakes 

Riess: Let's get to how you knew which the fakes were. 
Kojima: Well, the good fakes are hard to determine. 

Riess: I know. Mr. Gump has said as much, that they are hard to determine. 
He discusses discovering how and where the fakes were being made. 

Kojima: Well, this was one of the reasons why I met him in Florence, so he 
could show me these different places where they made reproductions. 

Riess: It's the same thing, to say reproduction and fake? 

Kojima: Yes. These artisans are making reproductions, not making fakes, 
and selling them as reproductions. The shady dealers then get 
these items and sell them as authentic pieces. 

Once he took me to a restorer who was restoring chairs that 
were damaged in the Pitti Palace during that bad flood they had in 
Florence. He restored all these chairs and they were lined up in 
his shop. And they wanted one more chair made from this set, so 
they had made this extra chair. So Richard told this fellow, he 
said, "Put them together," and he had me look at it to see if I 
could pick the copy that was made. Well, I picked the wrong one. 
So it's hard, it's very hard. 

Riess: The ones that were originally antiques and were restored, they're 
still considered to be antiques? 

Kojima: Yes. The damage was done to the patina because of the dampness. 

And then he took me around to other areas where they were 
making you could almost say they were making fakes. See, Italy 
has a scarcity of woods. In fact, the old wood is all gone now. 
So in England when they were redoing all of these small hotels 
which were full of late Victorian and Edwardian furniture which 
became unpopular at that time in England, when they were restoring 
these so-called hotels the Italians would come there with big vans 
and take all this old furniture. As they were bringing the 
furniture out they broke it all apart and stacked the wood up as 
lumber. 

We saw the vans being unloaded in Italy [photo]. They were 
taking these pieces, like a pedestal from an old table, and they 
were making fakes out of this seasoned wood. We were looking in 
there [the van] and the man came along and Richard said, "See? You 
have to be careful of these." At that the man grabbed a big door 
and just slammed it in our face. 



187 

Riess: If you construct a chair out of four old legs from England, what do 
you have? 

Kojima: Well, it would be a reproduction, as far as we were concerned, 

because the original chair is gone. Let's say that if they replace 
only one leg, then that could be acceptable as an antique, because 
the bulk of the chair is still intact. We have to use our own 
judgement on that. I think it's common sense, though, because 
we're dealing with a gray area. If we had to look at it as black 
and white, then nothing would ever come into this country. 
Everything would be stopped. 

Riess: Why? 

Kojima: Because we'll say, "Well, prove it." It could reach a point of 
being ridiculous, where it would be impossible to prove because 
most antiques are not documented. 

Riess: Mr. Gump told a story of a dealer in Italy who was selling what he 
allowed people to think were Waterford vases. 

Kojima: [mimicking a woman being conned] "He was so nice. He took me to 
lunch. He was an honest man. I met his family and his children. 
They were so nice." I said, "I'm sorry. You have a fake." You 
have to be very tactful with people. Like I say, we're dealing in 
a gray area. We just wanted people to be reasonable. 

Rie.ss: And ignorance is never an excuse? I mean, if that woman really 
convinces you that she bought it unknowingly. 

Kojima: She's still responsible. If a thing is basically a fake, well then 
there's nothing called "being reasonable" about it. But there are 
a lot of borderline cases where you can be reasonable. For 
instance when an item borders on a hundred years, we wouldn't 
quibble about the exact date. 



Jades and Ceramics 



Riess: Were there ways you dealt differently with the jades and the pieces 
from China and Japan that were coming in? 

Kojima: Well, you see, the problem we have with jades in fact, I think 

when the 1830 date was used Gump's claimed very little as antiques 
unless they could prove that this was in a certain home or in a 
certain palace prior to 1830. The Chinese have felt that it was an 
honor to copy carvings or paintings. Once a master perfected a 
carving or a painting, they felt that a faithful reproduction would 
be collectible. So when it came to a lot of the good jade pieces, 



188 



Kojima: they made copies of the original piece. Copies made after 1830 

were dutiable, but all copies made before 1830 could come in free. 
And Gump's was very good about that. They held back, didn't claim 
unless they were sure that they could prove it on paper. 

Riess: Is the disparity in value great between the antique and the perfect 
modern copy? 

Kojima: Oh yes, yes, of course, the older pieces would be more valuable. 

First of all, you couldn't get that quality of marble any more, or 
of j ade. 

Riess: So it was visibly a copy? 

Kojima: Sometimes, and sometimes not. Sometimes somebody would find a 
good stone somehow, out of Burma that's where most of the jade 
came from and make a copy out of that excellent piece. 

In the case of ceramics, most of the kilns were sponsored by 
the imperial families. And you had kilns all over China making 
ceramics. Each firing they might have, oh, five to ten thousand 
items in there. And you were lucky if one came out perfect. The 
perfect item would go to the emperor. As soon as they came out 
they would see the flaws. And the fewer the flaws, the ownership 
would be high up in the palace. 

Then you had items in the middle that could be sold to the so- 
called tradesmen. Then you had the bottom rung which went to the 
junk trade. It's not the junk-junk, it's the boat junk. They 
would load these pieces onto junks and then send it all over 
Southeast Asia, where they sold them to natives in exchange for raw 
material. 

Riess: That's very interesting. Well, I certainly didn't know the 
proportion of flawed to perfect was so high, or so low, or 
whatever. 

Kojima: Well, there was a Ming piece, a plate that sold at Christie's for 
something like $900,000 or some fantastic figure. And somebody 
came to me and said, "I got one piece just like that." It could be 
true, it could have been made in the same kiln. But the one at 
Christie's was a perfect piece. 

Riess: Are kiln firings well, they're certainly better regulated now than 
then, aren't they? 

Kojima: Yes, they are, they're electronically regulated. But somehow you 
just can't get the same first of all, you haven't got the same 
kaolins and the same clay that they used to get. And there's 
something about the woods used in the kilns. 






189 



Travels with Richard Gump 

Riess: Tell me about your travels with Mr. Gump. 

Kojima: We were going to Italy in 1970 and he said. "Make sure you save a 

week for me so I can take you around." We were in Venice first and 
then we went down to Florence. As soon as we got in the hotel I 
called him up. He said. "I'll pick you up first thing in the 
morning." So he would come by in the morning and he would take us 
around Florence first. All the shops in Florence, the museums and 
things that he felt that we should see. 

He said, "You've seen these pieces coming from Italy. But 
what I'd like now is to have you see these pieces in their natural 
surroundings. It will mean more." which it did. After we did 
Florence for two days we started going to the outskirts of 
Florence, like Arezzo and Siena. We would stop by different 
castles and churches. During these stops he would get his notebook 
out and make quick sketches of interesting details on buildings. 
While driving between towns we would discuss what we saw and he 
would point out the various important details. During these drives 
we went to Lucca, and Pisa, and most of the Tuscany area. 

Riess: And he was doing this just for the two of you? 



Kojima: Yes. 

Riess: And because he likes to teach. 

Kojima: He was retired. He sold the store. So yes, he wanted to share 

what he had learned through the years. He had lived there as a kid. 

Riess: Now how else did he use those sketch books? When he was importing 
things did he use the sketch books to verify? 

Kojima: He used a camera to verify his purchases, and what he couldn't 
photograph, he sketched. For example, if you look in his other 
apartment you'll see some of the design on the woodwork on the 
paneling and ceiling which came from his sketchbook. Then he would 
call a carpenter in and have the pieces reproduced. The 
sketchbooks were mostly for his own future reference. 

Riess: Did he share with you any thoughts on how people should deal with 
antiques? 

Kojima: He talked mostly of what he would do, not what other people should 
do, how he would use it. Sometimes he would draw the whole 
surrounding and he'd say, "This is how it should fit in." He had a 
house on Scott Street which had antiques placed the way he felt 
they fit in. Many of the antiques were for display and use. 



190 

Riess: You say that your first contact was 1965? But you didn't get to 
know him really until 1970-71? 

Kojima: I knew him pretty well by '66. But I was dealing mostly with 
Martin Rosenblatt who was vice-president at Gump's because 
Richard Gump was hardly ever there. He was away a lot. But every 
time he was in he always wanted to see me. 

Riess: When he had a buyer for something, if it were a choice between a 

museum and an individual, do you think he had a bias one way or the 
other? 

Kojima: Well, I've always felt that he was very pro-museums. He would 

rather see it on display so it would be exposed. The reason why I 
say this is that his personal collections were always freely shown 
at his home, unlike some collectors that would jealously guard 
their goods. But he would be very free with his collection, and 
openly discuss it with anyone interested. 

Oh, and by the way, a lot of the books that we have in our art 
and antique library at Customs were given to us by Gump's. When 
they had duplicates they would donate them to Customs. 

One thing I was really amazed at in Florence was how he knew 
Florence so well. He knew every corner of the city. 

Riess: Did the merchants know him? 

Kojima: Yes. He could speak the different dialects of that area which was 
a big plus in dealing with them. And once I still chuckle over 
this once he picked me up in the car and we were trying to get to 
a piazza there, and he cut a truck off. (In order to get into a 
piazza you have to outbully each other, otherwise you'll never make 
it you know, it's like getting on a subway in New York.) And this 
driver was mad. And then he saw noe and he yelled, "Tourista!" The 
truckdriver got right behind us and he blasted the horn. I could 
see him waving his fist out the window. I said, "You cut this 
truck off." Richard said, "Well, to get anywhere you have to do it. 1 

So that truck kept following us. We would get off the piazza 
and go down one street and he was still following, honking his horn 
and tailgating us. He just stuck right by us. 

I said, "Richard, he's still with us." And he said, "Well, 
I'll teach that S.O.B." So he started to zigzag and the truck 
zigzagged, and then he said, "Ken, hold on. I'm going to make a 
quick turn." So we made a quick turn on an ordinary street that 
suddenly narrowed into an alley. It was wide enough for his little 
Fiat to get through, so he went right through there, and that truck 
followed and j;ot stuck between two buildings. [laughter] And he 
said, "See, I knew Florence better tnan he did!" 




left to right: Richard Gump, Ken Kojima, and Paul Faria, 1981 




Broken down Victorian furniture unloaded in Firenze (described in 
interview), 1972. 



191 



Riess: Oh dearl 

He could speak the dialects of the dealers and restorers and 
so on? 

Kojima: Oh yes, he really could. They all knew him because I think he was 
telling me he used to spend his summers in Italy. I think his 
mother and father were divorced and his mother moved to Venice 
where she had a home. So during the summers he travelled in Italy 
and learned all these dialects. 



Other Experts 



Riess: Who else in San Francisco could you go to as an expert the way you 
could Mr. Gump? 

Kojima: A good friend of Richard Gump's, a man called Harry Barnett. He 

was known as the daddy of the antique dealers. He's dead now, but 
he was on Sansome Street, and he was one of the pioneers in the 
antique field. He was one of the most respected persons. And he 
was also a person that had to know how a piece was originally made, 
even the type of glues used and the type of nails that were used. 
So if he had to restore a piece he would try to use the original 
method. For instance if an antique table had to be polished, it 
was never with a machine buffer, always with your hand. He was of 
the old school. He had a workshop in the basement right across the 
street from Customs. If he took a table or chair apart, or the 
upholstery off a wing chair, and he wanted me to see it, he would 
call me over and say, "Hey, take a look." In this way I would see 
the original construction of many pieces. That was interesting. 

Riess: Did it ever come to the point where you took something apart in 
order to figure out whether or not it was antique? 

Kojima: No. The only time any antique was taken apart was when they 

suspected that there were narcotics involved. This was handled by 
Customs agents. 

Riess: How did you work with Butterf ield's? 

Kojima: Oldtimers like Butterf ield's and Gump's would have everything set 
out at the warehouse, numbered according to the invoices so that 
each piece could be easily identified. 

Riess: And did it get to be fairly routine? 



192 



Kojima: Sometimes it did. yes. Especially when it came to Victorian 

furniture made in the mid and late 19th century. This was during 
the Industrial Revolution and they reproduced a lot of this 
furniture. 

When we talk about English period furniture, what they usually 
mean is furniture prior to 1830. Because at that time, prior to 
the Industrial Revolution, there were very few families in England 
that could afford these original pieces. And they were built by 
so-called city cabinet makers, you know, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, 
and so on. And when the Industrial Revolution came in, suddenly 
England had the strongest middle class in the world. And they 
wanted the same type of furniture, so they made reproductions of 
these earlier original pieces. And much of these Victorian 
reproductions are now being pawned off as early period pieces. 

Riess: And in the late 1960s, after the law changed, the pieces from 1830 
to the 1860s came flooding in? 

Kojima: Yes. And a lot of old Victorian and Edwardian furniture came in. 
Importers, influenced by decorators, got interested in buying so- 
called antiques by the vanloads. They would go over there and they 
would buy anything from the Victorian and Edwardian era. They just 
had tons of the stuff. A lot of it was pretty awful, like some of 
the old coat racks. 

Riess: Coat racks? 

Kojima: You know, hall racks, of all shapes and forms. And all this would 
come in because the law was changed, and now they could get it in 
as antiques. I was talking to the British consul at that time 
about it. and he said, "Well, you know, I can see where it could be 
an eyesore for you, but look at it from our angle, it's 
housecleaningl" [laughter] He said, "We're finally getting rid of 
that stuff." They used to called them "old Vickies." 

Riess: Any other importers or expert dealers you think of? 

Kojima: There was Mr. Bentz, Robert Kasper, E. T. March, and Peg McDonough. 
All of these old-timers are gone now. The younger generation look 
at the field differently from the way the old-timers did. 

Riess: Why? 

Kojima: It became lucrative. The decorators got into the act of importing 
and bringing in things. At that point it just got to be a bore to 
look at the items because all the shipments started to look alike. 
So when Richard would have an item or a museum would have a piece, 
then that was like a dessert. You could look forward to it. 



193 

Riess: Who were the decorators who worked with the older pieces? 

Kojima: Archibald Taylor used to be an old-timer. He was a good friend of 
Richard Gump's, I think. Yes, and there was a marvelous woman, 
Jeanette Kapstein. I think she was in her nineties when she died. 
And she was also an old friend of Richard's. I can remember, I was 
with Jeanette once and Richard happened to walk by. She was much 
older than Richard, and she said, "Richard, you're not looking 
well. You have to take care of yourself, Richard." He said, 
"You're like a Jewish mama!" She said, "Are you eating properly?" 

Riess: I think of Gump's as being without competitors in some way, but I 
guess there were a few. 

Kojima: Well, he was by himself for a long time. He was a man that went by 
his own convictions. He didn't have to have marketing researches 
before he did anything. He went by instinct. He felt that if it 
was the right thing to do, it was the right thing to do. 

Right after he sold the store, he made one buying trip to the 
Far East for Gump's. It was an agreement that he had with the 
Macmillan Company. He bought a beautiful screen from the Momoyama 
period. The new owners were upset because they felt he paid too 
much money for it. They said, "No, it's not going to sell." They 
were very upset and let him know it. So he said, "If you're so 
unhappy about it, I'll take it back." They had it for about a 
year, and then asked him to take it back, and he did. Within ten 
years I understand that the screen has tripled in price. Which 
proved to me, he had the right instincts. In my opinion, Mr. 
Gump's retirement from the store left a void in San Francisco's 
arts and antiques circle, and it will never be the same. 



[End of Interview] 

[There is no page 194] 



195 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 



Paul Faria and Clariece Graham 
AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL FARIA AND CLARIECE GRAHAM 



An Interview Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 
in 1988 












Copyright (7) 1989 by The Regents of the University of California 



195a 



******************************** 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the University of California and Paul Faria 
and Clariece Graham dated 6 May 1988. The manuscript is 
thereby made available for research purposes. All literary 
rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are 
reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of 
California, Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be 
quoted for publication without the written permission of the 
Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of 
California, Berkeley. 

Request for permission to quote for publication should 
be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, A86 
Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should 
include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, 
anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the 
user. The legal agreement with Paul Faria and Clariece Graham 
requires that they be notified of the request and allowed 
thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as 
follows: 

Paul Faria and Clariece Graham, "An 
Interview with Paul Faria and Clariece 
Grahan, " an oral history conducted in 1988 
by Suzanne B. Riess, in "Richard B. Gump: 
Composer, Artist, and President of Gump's", 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 
1989. 






196 



TABLE OF CONTENTS Paul Faria and Clariece Graham 

A Job at Gump's, February 1947 197 

The Decorating Business Gump's Furniture Department 201 

Knowing What the Customer Wants Antiques 205 

Recognizing and Merchandising the Unusual Reproduction Models 209 

The Design Test 212 

Equal Opportunity, Salespeople and Customers 21A 

Little Touches, From Labelling to Morale 216 

The Notebooks and the Buying Trips, 1960 and 196A 218 

A Friendship, in the Store and in the Band 222 

The Store Brochure 225 



197 



A Job at Gump's. February 1947 * 



Faria: 

Graham: 
Faria: 
Riess : 

Faria: 



Riess: 
Faria: 

Riess: 

Faria: 



The way I think of Richard Gump is just relaxed and low key, no 
airs, just Gump and that's the way he was. 

[laughs] You always put things so well, Paul. 
He's an individual, he doesn't fit a mold. 

You've known him a long time. He was a relatively young man when 
you met him. Has he changed over the years? 

I met him in 1947. And I think he's been pretty consistent over the 
years. I think since he's been away from the store he's a little 
more relaxed. But even when he was at the store he was still 
basically Gump, he didn't put on some kind of a hat and be "head of 
the store." A low-key man who got things done in his own way. I 
think that was part of his charm, that he didn't fit the mold as a 
businessman. He wasn't a desk-pounding executive. He did it his 
way, and it worked. 



Did you know his father? 






Riess: 



I only saw him two or three times, because I started there in 1947. 
I wouldn't know anything about the man at all. 

I wondered if any of the others who you worked with, employees from 
earlier, would have made any references to the differences between 
Richard Gump and his father. 

No, I wouldn't know that. When I got there the store had an overlay 
of groups of people. There were employees who were hitting a 
twenty- five year period, and they worked together with the new 
generation. That was good because you had this carry-on of 
experience and talent. The older employees were the roots of the 
store, and you had this continuation of experienced people passing 
on the tradition of the store. But I came at a break. 

The break was the end of the war? 



Interviewed May 6, 1988. 



198 



Graham: Well, he took over in 1944 as vice-president and general manager. 
Riess: And new blood came in at that point. 

Faria: You had people coming back from the war. I think there was a 

transition in a lot of businesses at that time. I got out of the 
service and it was a year after that I started working at the store. 
So most of the employees were people who had been there a short 
time, and then an overlap of another generation. 

Riess: That's what I thought might make for a discussion of the different 
management styles. 

Graham: I think Mr. Gump mentioned in the interview that it was a little 
hard to get people to change to his way of doing things. The 
windows as an example . 

Faria: Oh, there was a definite change there. At that time they became an 
unusual Gump's attraction, probably starting with Don Smith.* 

Riess: What was your background before going to work for Gump's? 

Faria: I was a professional musician; I got out of school and I became a 
professional musician very early. Until the end of the war I 
traveled with a name band around the United States. It was called 
the Carl Ravazza Orchestra and we played in fine hotels throughout 
the country. I worked with my dad during the daytime as a finisher 
and played as a musician at night. 

My dad was one of the master craftsmen in town. He worked 
with all the fine decorators in town. And my uncles were associated 
with the decorating and the fine furniture trade. So I got my 
background for that starting in 1935 when I started working for ray 
dad. I had a feeling for what I was doing because I could work with 
my hands. So I had a choice of going to art school when I got out 
of high school or being a musician. I was able to get into music 
immediately so I got into that instead. 

Riess: What is the family's origins? 
Faria: I'm Portuguese. 

Riess: Was the furniture work a skill that had been in the family for 
several generations? 



*See p. 44. 



199 



Faria: No. The family had come over from Portugal the generation before my 
dad, and they had a mix of general jobs. One of my dad's uncles 
started a custom furniture company which included a cabinet shop and 
furniture finishing shop. My dad started working for one of his 
uncles as a cabinet-maker. Then the shop needed a finisher so he 
went into finishing and continued in that. Eventually my dad 
started his own company. When I worked for him we also did cabinet- 
making and antique reproduction. 

The funny thing is I picked up on this later. I didn't intend 
it. But I had acquired a technical background which prepared me to 
supervise furniture -making and finishing, which I eventually did at 
Gump's later on. 

After the war a friend of mine got me a job as a salesperson 
with Formica Company as a representative. But at that time it was 
hard to get plastic materials so when they ran out of materials in 
certain cases I figured I'd better get another job. I was talking 
to my father and he said, "Why don't you go down and see Gordon 
Mills at Gump's? I know him, I've done work for him, and he can 
give you an idea of what the opportunities are in the interior 
design business." 

I stopped in, just as an informational thing, to find out what 
the opportunities were, like a lot of fellows getting out of the 
service, starting in on a new life. My plan was not to go back into 
music, not get into something that required travel. Mr. Mills 
thought they might have an opening in a stock position, and he asked 
me if I'd be interested. I said I wasn't even looking for a job. 
He said, "Well, we might call you." So he called me in a couple of 
weeks, said there was an opening, did I want the job? I figured I 
had nothing to lose. This gave me an opportunity to become 
acquainted with the very thing I was inquiring about. And it was 
the best place to get that; there was no better place than Gump's as 
far as our particular field was concerned. 

Riess: This was stock in the Interior Design Department? 

Faria: Yes, and I was connected directly, I was given exposure to the very 
thing that interested me. I saw the entire operation. I was there 
for a few months and I hit a point where I wasn't learning any more 
and I indicated that I had to leave because I couldn't support my 
family. I didn't make much in a stock job. So they gave me some 
sort of a promotion. In fact I did that a couple of times, 
indicated I was leaving, because I had to. [laughter] But they 
felt I was valuable. 

Riess: Who's "they?" 



200 



Faria: Mr. Gump. He knew I was around. We talked. He was that way, he 
wandered around the store. He would talk to me. I guess he knew 
pretty much about everybody who came in. He must have surveyed 
everything. 

Graham: Oh yes, he would know when someone showed promise. 

Faria: They were strict on who they hired. Even the people in the basement 
had to take the Design Test. That meant they were screened so that 
everybody who was there loved what they were doing; it wasn't just a 
job. 

Riess: You took it? I thought he put that together later. 

Faria: Oh yes, he must have had it going--! took it along with the rest of 
them. 

Graham: I think he had it about the time the book [Good Taste Costs No Morel 
came out, the 1950s. 

Faria: We all took it, there was a screening. 

Riess: You mean once the Design Test had been put together all the 

employees who were working there took it? But he didn't use it as a 
basis for firing people, did he? 

Faria: No, no, it wasn't that kind of a thing. 

I interviewed hundreds of people for my own department there, 
and it's all part of it. I had someone who came in who was highly 
qualified. He had a background, his mother was a decorator. You'd 
say, "Gee, this man is valuable." And up to the point of the final 
examination I said, "I think I'm going to hire this man." And then 
he showed me some of his work, and I couldn't any more hire him than 
the man in the moon. He had lousy taste. You don't hire people 
because of experience; they have to meet the standard of taste; 
that's as much a part of the thing as the technical background. And 
it wasn't that his taste was different, it was that it wasn't good. 

And then the store has a style, too, that you follow. That 
was the strength of the store, the fact that it looks different and 
has a style. But that taste story, that's an example of where you 
have to screen. And taste is uppermost, an innate sense of taste. 
Not great knowledge, but a sense of taste. That Design Test brought 
that out. 

That test made good sense. People came to the store and they 
stayed, and you were investing in them. You can't have people 
getting a job then leaving tomorrow. You invest time. It's a 
continual process of training, and you don't want to waste time. So 





left to 

Richar 

and Paul Far! 

lunch meeting with 

Renzo B 

Venice, 



201 



Faria: you pick the people who you feel have a leaning that way. Then the 
continued exposure to this --it automatically rubs off. 

Riess: Sounds like you had to keep pushing them to move you up, otherwise 
you would leave . 

Faria: Oh no. You could go into the stock department and remain in the 

stock department, which a lot of people did. A lot of the people in 
the basement were artists who had gone through art school. They 
took the job because they wanted to work in stock, and they wanted 
to be in stock at Gump's, not in some impersonal store. These were 
people with tremendous backgrounds, and they just liked being around 
that kind of quality and atmosphere. But a lot of people didn't 
want to go past a certain level. You didn't have to move up. 
Standard Oil, you get in and you have to go up, but the store wasn't 
that way. 

Riess: But you went up. 

Faria: Well, I stayed there long enough, for one thing. 

And then I worked with Mr. Gump, we got involved with our 
German band, you know, things of common interest. That's one of the 
things that kept me there. Then I became the head of the Interior 
Design and European Antique departments in stock and it was very 
stimulating because I was working with someone who had an 
appreciation for what we were doing. In fact he was involved. It 
was his background also- -he had a love for music, he also worked in 
the Design Department as a younger person. We saw eye to eye, and 
he gave a lot of support to what we were doing. He was actually 
nurturing what we were doing, and so we continued to expand. It was 
a very interesting experience. 



The Decorating Business- -Gump' s Furniture Department 

Faria: Richard Gump loved to buy in Europe. When his purchases finally 
arrived at the store he was always anxious to have the crates 
unpacked so he could see it all. It was like receiving gifts. Like 
Christmas . 

When you buy antiques on a long trip you must plough through a 
hodge-podge of miscellaneous furniture and small items in shops and 
barns. But when you receive it you see only the pieces that you 
hand- selected on the trip and it is very rewarding. And of course 
Mr. Gump was interested in knowing what the people thought of what 
he bought, too. He liked the approval of what he bought. 



202 



Riess: Of course that lovely piece of furniture vanishes once you sell it. 

Faria: But in our department, the Interior Design Department, many times 

you did get to see what happened to it. If you sold it to them for 
their home and you went to their home you'd see it in its final 
resting place. And then the people would say, "I love it, it's part 
of my life." 

Decorating is a very personal thing. It's like a doctor, or 
any profession, an architect. You find out about the people, you 
set a formula to satisfy them, you put it together, you finally have 
it complete, and you see that they're happy. But if you're not 
attentive you could do a whole job and then the client may say, "I 
don't like this." 

In our business you just don't run around as in a furniture 
store and say "I'll take this and that" and throw it together and 
ship it out. You talk to the client, find out how they live; you 
select things that tie in with what they think and how they live. 
And then you design pieces and manufacture them, you just don't go 
and pick them off a shelf. 

Riess: It's not off the floor. 

Faria: Well, unusual pieces were on the floor, individual things that had 
been gotten from all over the world. But also we had models of 
exclusive designs from which customers could order. They usually 
wanted their own wood finish or fabric selection, and many times a 
special size. And for those who had special needs we had the 
capability to design just about anything. 

The store had probably the widest range of interior design 
services that you would find anywhere. We not only had stock, we 
had access to all the other sources outside the store and our own 
Design Department where we designed thousands of pieces. So each 
order could have been, from the word Go, an individually-designed or 
complete interior design job for a particular client. 

Riess: Who did you work most closely with? 

Faria: When I took over the department? Basically Richard Gump. He told 
me, "I want you to take over the Interior Design and Antiques 
departments, and it's not because you play good clarinet." 
[laughter] What he meant was he wasn't making a gift of it because 
I played in his band and I was a good musician. He indicated that 
he thought I was capable of doing it. He saw me operate with the 
band. We were working together close enough so that he saw my 
capabilities managing the band. In doing this well he felt I could 
manage the two departments, which I could, I was highly qualified. 



203 



Faria: He did this with other people too. He didn't make gifts of jobs; 

they qualified and he supported them. He selected a group of people 
who understood how to work with him and who were able to function in 
their jobs well. And he didn't have to push them. You had an 
agreement that you're going to do a job and you're working for the 
store. You wanted to do a good job for Mr. Gump --and for those who 
knew him closely, for "Richard." And this was all the way through, 
down to the carpentry shop. 

He would go down to the carpentry shop and have coffee with 
Harry Taylor, this English cabinetman that he respected because of 
his ability. He could wander around the store and be friendly with 
everybody, and that was his style. Not like somebody in some office 
somewhere that you never met and you're afraid of. He was looking 
around and talking to people, like an associate, and that was a 
strength of the store. 

Riess: People weren't afraid of him. 

Faria: No. He's the boss and you have to do what the boss says, but the 

point is you were not afraid to tell him what you thought because he 
didn't put you on guard. He's talking to you, like we're talking 
now, but he's thinking a lot. He's not wandering around like a 
dumbo, not paying attention. He's around. A lot of times he didn't 
say much, but he was listening a lot. And a lot of times I'm sure 
he changed his decisions after he got to wandering around talking to 
people . 

I know many times he'd come to me and say he wanted to do 
something and we'd talk, and he'd change his mind. Not that I had 
influence on him, but with the input that I had, and other people, 
he'd change his mind based on the fact that he got to the people 
that were actually involved. He was working with the people as 
individuals. That was another strength of the store. 

Riess: What would have been a typical day for you? 

Faria: I had at that time eight decorators, decorator-salespeople. They 

were decorators who sold. Not salespeople who knew something about 
decorating. 

I hired them with the idea that they either had qualifications 
as decorators or could be trained. In most cases I took young 
people because they were the most adaptable. The store had a style 
and if I thought they had the talent and could be trained I would 
hire them. In most cases I took people out of art school or with a 
little background so that they could be trained in what we were 
doing. It was a continual training process in our department, as I 
felt I was being trained continually to raise our qualifications. 



204 



Faria: I told the people, "We're one of the top stores in the world. And 
we personally may not match exactly what the ultimate is, but we are 
continually trying to fit the image of our particular position and 
name. We're continually qualifying to be the best in the business." 

Riess: Did they come from art schools all over the country? 

Faria: Oh yes, could have been from anywhere. Could have been from 

Schaeffer's [Rudolph Schaeffer's School of Design, San Francisco], 
could have been Parson's [School of Design, New York], or any other 
good school. But it didn't have to be . I wasn't school- trained. 
Applicants could qualify either by experience or school, whatever. 
I didn't take just anybody. Sometimes I'd go through forty or fifty 
to get someone who'd qualify. 

Riess: Were the salaries competitive? 

Faria: The union at that time controlled what people could make, and what 
they could make would depend on their sales. In fact, the reason I 
picked younger people was because a lot of the older people in our 
business are so set in what they do- -their style is already 
determined. 

The decorating business is kind of a one-person operation. 
You don't have a lot of stores with highly-qualified decorators 
because anyone can get a resale number and they're a "decorator." 
But people working out of their home don't have the same kind of 
discipline, they don't go to their job and work so many hours and go 
home, they do it when they want. Well, after somebody's been doing 
this for a few years it's very difficult for them to adapt to the 
framework of a store and the routine of selling on the floor. So in 
many cases they were not suitable to work in that kind of an 
arrangement . 

Riess: How did you assign customers to salespeople? 

Faria: We didn't operate like other stores. At a lot of stores, when 
people came in and said they wanted to do a decorating job a 
decorator would be assigned. I didn't do that. Our people on the 
floor were all qualified decorators and the customer determined who 
they were going to work with. 

Riess: How? 

Faria: They talk to the person and ask themselves, "Do I like this person? 
Do I want this person in my home?" And if they didn't like a person 
they would not set up an appointment. Sometimes they would talk 
with one person and next time they came in they would speak to 
another and set up a decorating appointment. 



205 



Faria: It's like going to a doctor, it's a very personal thing. You don't 
have people in your home unless you trust them and like them. You 
don't like to discuss how you live, or open up to someone you feel 
funny about. The way we did it made it a personal choice by the 
customer. 

I practically never assigned anyone to a job. To me , it would 
never work out. Only in cases where I had a difficult customer that 
had a problem, and I'd say to them, "I know this person is going to 
be able to handle this . " 

Riess: Was Eleanor Forbes working under you? 

Faria: Yes, she was in charge of the Interior Design Department up until 

1958. At that time --she was a designer, and the work load was such 
that it was not possible for her to properly manage the department 
and also do her designing. So in effectMr. Gump wanted to expand 
the department. At that time he was bringing in antiques from 
Europe. And it was a combination of things: to relieve her of the 
responsibility of running a department and to expand the Antique 
Department, he asked me to take over. That worked out for me 
because decorating is a very demanding thing, and I felt that I was 
ready to make a change anyway. It was a matter of timing. But 
before that I had worked for twelve years as a decorator. 

Riess: Yet you were untrained as a decorator. 

Faria: In fact I had an unusual training. Many decorators wish they had my 
background. Mine was a thorough technical background. I can do 
anything in my business myself. I can go down and make a piece of 
furniture and I'm an expert finisher. That actually made me very 
qualified to support the people who were working for me, if they 
came to me with a problem. I was doing that before I took over the 
department. If anyone had a problem with the finish or anything 
else I was helping them solve the problem. It was very normal for me 
to phase into management because I had already been working along 
with the people, supporting them. 



Knowing What the Customer Wants- -Antiques 



Riess: I can see that you would hold your own with Richard Gump. 

Faria: You have to be on the same wave-length with him. A lot of people 
think that he's ignoring them. He might walk by them and not say 
Hello or acknowledge them. Well, his mind is thinking about 



206 



Faria: something else. Could be music, could be anything. He is a very 
sensitive man who does a lot of thinking. Outside of Mrs. Graham 
who probably knows him better than anybody- -sure , she was with him 
so many yearsbut in my area I think I knew him as well as anybody. 
And you have to know somebody like that to know what they're 
thinking and to work with them. Otherwise you say, "I don't 
understand this person." 

Gump a lot of times might start to talk about something and he 
might not finish it, and then he might pick it up a month or two 
later and complete the thought. Or it could be ten years later. 
With a man like Mr. Gump you have to be in tune with him. If you 
aren't, you can't work with him. You have to know him well enough- - 
it's not that you think alike, but you have to be going down the 
same path. 

He does things on instinct. When I first started to work at 
the store in 1947 they had a very fine antique department, a small 
one down on the first floor. Well, people weren't buying antiques, 
so they closed it out. The department was sitting there, occupying 
valuable space, and they eliminated it. Now that was in '47. For a 
period of about ten years antique furniture was out of fashion. The 
general public was not buying it. 

Around 1957, and long before others were onto it, Mr. Gump 
sensed a renewed interest in antiques. So on one of his trips to 
Europe he bought a few pieces of antique furniture and put them in 
the Silver Department to display the silver. And also he started 
bringing in antique silver. This tied the furniture and silver 
together. And of course when the furniture was on the floor people 
would say, "I want to buy this." Again, being sensitive to what the 
customer wanted he started to bring in more furniture. He felt that 
antiques were coming back. This is what I say, he had this sense of 
what was going on. So he brought more antiques back and they sold 
and it got to the point where the demand warranted a separate 
department. 

By that time he had a number of pieces of antique furniture 
that needed proper stock control. Then I guess he decided he wanted 
to include European antiques with our Interior Design Department to 
make one department with one director. He asked me to take over and 
he handed me a bunch of cards and said, "This is the department, and 
here's the inventory." And we tied it together. 

Actually there had been two departments, an Antique Department 
and a Department of Interior Design, and people working in both. It 
was unreasonable. By tying both together and using the same 
personnel it actually fostered sales in both departments which was 
wise because the Antique Department became large enough to make it 
an entity in the store. So when that happened our sales doubled and 



207 



Faria: then they doubled again and Mr. Gump continued to bring in more 
antiques. I mean we really had a going antique business. 

In 1960 and 1964 I went on European trips with him. We had a 
tremendous antiques business. But when the fire came [December 22, 
1968] it destroyed everything in the second main building on Post 
Street, including special antique stock and an irreplacable 
collection of antique pieces being saved for reproduction models. 

Riess: Was Eleanor Forbes head of the Furniture Department, or something 
called the Decorating Department? 

Faria: When I took over the Department of Interior Design Miss Forbes 
became a nucleus in the department. Her operation became the 
"Design Studio." She designed some things for the store; she 
designed parts of the store, the interior of the store. And she 
phased into working with her own clientele and decorating. She had 
a couple of people assigned as assistants on her individual 
decorating jobs. Those same people also did the drawings of 
furniture for the rest of the department. If there was furniture to 
be designed they would either design it completely or work with the 
decorator on his or her idea for a design and then draw it in 
fullsize detail. 

When you make furniture- -let's say you were going to make a 
cabinet, you have to draw that up to give it to the shop. You don't 
just tell the shop, "Make that cabinet." It's like an architect, 
you have to design it in detail. You have to give a fullsize detail 
drawing to the shop. Miss Forbes controlled that operation, but she 
worked as a nucleus within the department. From '58 on I was the 
director of that operation, which included her, but she worked 
pretty much as her own little operation. We didn't subordinate her; 
actually we allowed her to not get involved with inventory. It was 
a waste of talent. She did the things which she was highly 
qualified to do, as one of the top designers in the world. We took 
over the merchandising end of it and we expanded the interior design 
service. 

Riess: When you talk about having things done "in the shop," are you 
talking about the Gump's shop? 

Faria: Well, we had a number of shops that we'd worked with for years. And 
when I took over I set up a new operation, one factory that did 
things in quantity. Because of my background I was able to do that. 
I got a shop that I could work with and we expanded their operation 
so that they did my designs and my finishes and the rest for which I 
had the background. So we set up a whole new operation. 

Riess: They were in San Francisco? 



208 



Faria: No, they're down on the Peninsula. 
Riess: Exclusive with Gump's? 

Faria: Primarily. We gave them all the business they could handle. At 
that time we had fifteen men in the shop. I set that up in '61. 
They were making electronic crates at the time. I started to work 
with them, and I could talk to them technically and I knew that they 
could handle it. So we expanded that into a tremendous operation, 
millions of dollars of special designs, exclusive for the store. 

Riess: When you say "exclusive," was it possible to keep anyone from 
copying a design? 

Faria: No, nobody has an exclusive. You have people borrowing 

ideas all the time. Designs of mine have been copied down in 
Jackson Square and other places. You have no control. 

Riess: But that was a theme of Gump's, the exclusivity. 

Faria: You could take a big furniture company and have them produce what 
they think is the same thing as Gump's and have them put it on the 
market and not sell one. We had a particular customer, and what is 
right for our customer is not right for the masses. It's not that 
it's any better, it's just that there was a certain quality in our 
furniture that our customers looked for that was not found in 
commercial furniture. 

Somebody from the outside wouldn't know what your best sellers 
are. I might have something on the floor, and who knows if I'd sell 
one of these or a million of them. But you don't have a lot of that 
because everyone has his own idea, and they know what they're doing 
in their own field for their customer. 

Before we put a design on the floor we knew what the customer 
was going to buy. It practically never failed. You'd say, "They're 
going to look for something about this size, that has a certain 
look, around a certain price," put it on the floor and it'd start to 
sell. 



Of course, all good buyers know what their customers want. 
Except in our case we started from scratch. We'd design it and put 
it together. And a lot of times if you have something- -say a table 
that is going to cost $600, you know the customer won't buy it at 
that price so you won't make it. You say, "I'm going to make a 
table that looks like that and it's got to sell for $325." 
Otherwise you're a bad merchandiser. You know before and if you 
price it right you get an immediate sale because you know what your 
customer wants. And that happens basically with any merchandiser. 
Except in our case we had an edge because we could make it the way 



209 



Faria: he wanted; we didn't have to ask the manufacturer, "Could you make 
it in purple?" We were the manufacturer so we did not have to take 
just what was available. 



Recognizing and Merchandising the Unusual- -Reproduction Models 



Riess : 
Faria: 



Faria: At that time, when I took over, people were looking for country 
pieces, they were looking for antiques. That tied in with the 
Antique Department. And we knew from selling antiques of a certain 
look that they sold right away, so I started putting those away as 
reproduction models. We bought pieces from auction; any place you 
could find a model, we bought. We would buy antiques in Europe with 
the idea we were going to reproduce them. 

You put them away? You mean you wouldn't sell them? 

No, we put them away. I had them stashed away up on the Fourth 
Floor. And when we had the fire I lost some of the most valuable 
models, things that I would have reproduced over the years. It was 
a tremendous loss. It wasn't so many dollars worth of things, it 
was all that could have been generated in unusual designs. I stored 
them away with the idea that they were part of our research 
department. We were going to expand on that, because we were 
continually looking for unusual things that were different and could 
not be found elsewhere, and things we knew would sell. 

Riess: Could you have had a manufacturer in France reproduce a piece of 
country French furniture as inexpensively? 

Faria: No, no, it wouldn't be right. You wouldn't have any control. You 

look at a piece over there and say, "Gee, I like this, will you make 
it up?" It doesn't come back the way it looked over there. And how 
can you communicate back and forth? We're not talking about fifty 
of something, and eighty of something. It's so exacting. You have 
to be there and personally tell them; you have to say, "This is how 
I want it." 

Riess: I thought on those buying trips you and Mr. Gump might contact 

people that he felt as good about as he felt about your work, for 
instance . 

Faria: Yes, we had special shops that did certain things right, so that 
sometimes it wouldn't pay to make it here. That's true. Up in 
Udine, up in northern Italy, there were shops that did unusual 
things, that weren't the run-of-the-mill, and we bought a lot of 



210 



Faria: furniture from them. There are certain areas in Europe which 

specialize in a particular style of furniture. These shops are all 
in a cluster, and they do unusual things. But a lot of furniture in 
high production, whether you're making high production there or 
here, comes out commercial -looking and the same. You have to have 
small production, and the person who's doing it has to understand 
what you're talking about, to get the unusual finishes and the right 
look. 

There was one factory that we went to outside of Milan, I 
think it was. We went through the whole factory and we couldn't 
find anything. It was all the standard Italian production. I 
looked- -there was a screen, and there was an arm sticking out, and I 
said, "what's that?" The owner said, "You don't want that." I 
said, "Well, let me just see it." We dragged it out, and the only 
piece we bought from that man was this chair. It was really goofy, 
a mixture of French and Swedish, a little dumpy chair. We bought 
the thing and placed a substantial order for stock of the same 
design. We waited months for delivery and the factory could not 
guarantee any flow of orders. Finally we had to reproduce it 
because we couldn't get delivery. But it was the only thing that we 
picked out of that whole factory. 

Riess: Describe it more. 

Faria: [drawing chair] It was a fireside chair with a Louis XVI leg. It 
had a funny frame, a strange back and arms. The arms stuck way out 
and it had an openwork back with a woven grass seat. You could play 
with this little chair. We made cushions for the seat and back and 
we made different kinds of woven seats for it. 

I've purchased chairs at auction where all I wanted from the 
chair was one feature that had a certain shape to it. I would buy 
it and we would design a chair around that particular shape. Or I 
might buy something for the finish and then say to the finisher, 
"This is the effect I want." And then by showing the finisher an 
actual old finish and discussing with him the finishing technique to 
be used he could visualize it in its completed form. 

These little chairs--! still have them stored away, these 
little models that I've saved. And if I were to put them on the 
market I could sell loads of them to the decorators. I'm not in 
that business and I don't intend to be, but all these things have 
potential for the decorating trade. They don't want the ordinary, 
they want something unusual. It opens up a whole range of 
possibilities. When you go to the unusual you find the decorators 
with imagination love the unique. And you can't go to a store and 
buy this. Where can you go to buy these things? 



211 



Riess: Was it important that certain social people who would be thought of 
as trend- setters be buying these things? Is that what made 
something popular, that it got into a certain house? 

Faria: No. But people look at decorating magazines and get ideas which 

they would want to use in their own homes. For instance, we brought 
a load of clocks over from Europe and they sat around for a while 
and all of a sudden people started buying clocks. You'd ask, "Why?" 
Well, all you'd have to do is look in a magazine and see that an old 
clock was used in an attractive setting. That's when the people 
started buying clocks. It might have been Better Homes and Gardens 
or House and Garden, or the more professional magazines, like Arts 
and Architecture. Anybody can buy these magazines, and when people 
see things and see how they are used, they start looking for 
something similar. 

We had a shipment of Bavarian furniture which Gump and I 
bought. We were ahead of the time on that too. We had the stock 
warehoused and it wasn't selling too readily. We had it on the 
floor, and some of it had been reduced. Of course with antiques the 
price is based on what the going market is, what it's worth. You 
have to, a lot of times, drop things to nothing, and other things 
you have to increase to balance off your investment because they 
become more valuable. It's like property, it goes up based on 
demand. Some of these things tripled in value from the time that we 
bought them 'til the time that we put them on the floor. 

I put a Bavarian coffer on the floor one time, and by gosh we 
had a number of calls for it. People said, "Oh, my, what about 
this?" I had a bunch of them in the back and I brought them out and 
they sold just like that. [snaps fingers] They had been sitting 
around and we'd had them on the floor before, but you have a whole 
cycle of interest in certain furniture pieces and you don't know 
why. 

Riess: How do you get your furniture into a magazine like Arts and 
Architecture? 

Faria: We don't put our furniture in. We're talking about an idea. 

Riess: But you do have a vested interest in popularizing some things, don't 
you? 

Faria: No. We were never interested in trying to popularize, because we 
were not trying to set a trend and sell millions of something. 
Certain businesses commercially want to set trends so they can sell 
gobs of them and they have the factory produce them in thousands and 
ship them out, but we were not in that kind of a business. We fit 
a niche where people were looking for unusual things that were not 



212 



Faria: 



Riess: 



Faria: 



Riess: 



Faria: 



Graham: 



necessarily the trend. It's what's best for you. I never decorated 
a home based on a trend, nor used the color that was "in." 



How did you publicize the Interior Design Department? 
think mostly of Gump's for gifts? 



Don't people 



There are different levels of knowledge of the store. A lot of 
people across the country and generally have thought of Gump's as 
just Oriental. But it's actually international. You have Italian, 
a lot of European merchandise. 

But when a magazine article features homes with rooms done by Gump's 
Interior Design Department, doesn't that bring people in holding the 
magazine and wanting the same? 

We were never strong on a lot of publicity about what we did. The 
store had publicity, but I'm talking about decorating publicity. 

I think it's hard to advertise things unless you have a lot of stock 
to back them up. You can show an idea of a room and people would 
come in. But the displays- -don' t you think, Paul, the displays 
around the store, these wonderful setups all over the store, did a 
great deal? And as you mention, someone might go in and buy one 
chair and if they get one of these good decorators, the decorators 
might ask about how they're going to use it, and the first thing 
they know they're buying a group of pieces. 



The Design Test 



Graham: We gave the Design Test to everyone in the store and by their test 
score Mr. Gump might for instance find somebody in the basement who 
has excellent taste. Then you can bring that person up into the 
merchandising scheme of things, more or less based on that, and find 
out what they can do in merchandising because they already have good 
taste. I think he told me --or I'm quite sure that was the 
impression I got- -that he didn't think you could teach people good 
taste, you have to have a sort of a feeling for it. 

Riess: Even though someone might be exposed to good taste all the time, 
that wouldn't be enough to teach them? 

Graham: No, and we used to argue about that all the time. 

Faria: It's like in music. You can have a musician who technically will 
play piano or any other instrument, but there's no soul. Liberace 
was technically an incredible musician, but a lot of people didn't 



213 



Faria: think of him as a classical musician. I never heard him make a 

mistake, but the point is, when he played jazz, he was not a jazz 
pianist. He didn't have that "something." He was a mechanic, and 
he was excellent, but he wouldn't fit the mold of someone you would 
say was a "great pianist." He was doing too many things. 

Riess: Could someone be weak in one aspect of the Design Test and strong in 
another? And pass? 

Graham: Sometimes I've seen Mr. Gump take someone's test and see what areas 
their mistakes were in. Then he'd get a sort of feeling about what 
they knew. But as a rule he would look at the overall score. 

Faria: It was a well-designed test, and it wasn't technical. If you were 
talking about technical then it would be unfair. It was general. 
In other words, they got a lot out of a very simple test. For 
instance packaging, how to wrap a package, was it better with this 
kind of wrap or that? Yet there was enough of a range in that test 
so that you got a pretty good idea of a person. And I guess nobody 
made a hundred percent. If they did, there would be something 
peculiar! 

You could disagree with Mr. Gump! "That's your opinion." 

When you get into these areas it's like saying what art is 
"good"; you're getting to a point where you have a lot of 
disagreement. But there are certain areas where basically everybody 
will agree. 

Graham: He started out with two hundred questions on that test. But it was 
pointed out that if all the experts say something is good, then 
that's not a test question. So they threw out some questions and 
they got it down to about 137 questions. Regardless, there were 
still some of the experts who would say, "That isn't good," and 
others who would say, "It is." But as an overall thing it came out 
as a good test. 

Faria: When did they start the test? 

Graham: In 1952, shortly after the book came out [Good Taste Costs No More. 
Doubleday, 1951]. When it was finished he made everyone in the 
store take it. 



214 



Equal Opportunity. Salespeople and Customers 



Riess: Who were Gump's competitors for the same clients in the city? 

Faria: In decorating? Basically we didn't have a lot of competitors. It 
wasn't that we were afraid of competition; we were in an area that 
they weren't. They were in their particular field, and we were in 
ours. Our customers wanted something special, things that were 
right for their particular home, and we offered a range of items, 
and special services where we could design a piece, or modify it, or 
design something new to fit their particular need. So we weren't 
concerned about competition. It wasn't that people could shop 
around and get a particular piece for a better price somewhere else. 
It's not that we were above it, we were just in another area, that's 
all. 

Riess: What about the snob appeal of Gump's? 

Faria: We weren't working on snob appeal, and I don't think the store does 
either. As a policy I never sensed that Gump's was working on snob 
appeal. I think that's an artificial thing. If it were there it 
was because it was there, not because it was planned. I don't think 
there was anything ever mentioned about it, and in fact I think 
Mr. Gump would be against it. I think that would go against the 
grain for him. 

Riess: And was every client treated equally? 

Faria: Oh, absolutely. The one thing about the store was the customers 

felt comfortable and they were not pushed into buying. Of course I 
hate that too. I hate that kind of treatment in a store, where the 
salesmen are all over you, bowing and scraping. It makes me want to 
leave. And I don't want them assessing me as to if I have the money 
or don't have the money. You have a lot of that with some stores 
where there is snob appeal and you feel uncomfortable. 

The store has had people of great wealth go through there. 
What about the man that came in one time, he was in his jeans, his 
whole family was in jeans, a lot of people would look at them and 
say, "Well, they don't have a dime and they're here on vacation." I 
think the man bought jade and became a collector- -don' t quote me on 
this. 

Graham: There are quite a few stories like that. 



215 



Faria: 



Riess : 



Faria: 



Riess : 
Faria: 



Graham: 



Faria: 



He had great wealth, and the point is, they weren't putting on the 
dog. They were in the store because they wanted to look around and 
they had the money and they were treated properly. 

Did Mr. Gump speak to the salespeople to make very sure that they 
were democratic? 

[question misunderstood] Oh, it was throughout the store. The 
store was made up of people from all backgrounds. Gump loved that; 
he loved to get a mixture of people. He had an affinity for unusual 
people, and a mixture of people. He was completely democratic. 

Did he have black salespeople? 

Oh yes, he always had a mixture. That's the thing that struck me 
when I came into the store was the. mixture of people. 

As far as the customer, there was always the commendation by 
people that, "I felt so comfortable, the people were very friendly." 
I think that was a good part of the strength of that store, the fact 
that they were treated in a friendly manner and not pressured to buy 
things. They bought what they bought because they wanted to, not 
because they were forced to buy something. 

To break down that snob appeal, that was one of the reasons he wrote 
Good Taste Costs No More. That tied in with that. In the olden 
days, in his father's day, there was this curve of customers. You 
had a lot of very wealthy, and you had a lot of very poor, and a 
small middle ground. After the war that curve changedthis was 
brought out in the Amos Parrish report and more people had jobs. 
So we had a very large middle group and a smaller very wealthy and a 
smaller very poor. So then the direction of the store had to be 
pointed to that middle group. That's when he started in with the 
motto "Good Taste Costs No More"; a $5 item or a $10,000 item, you 
could buy it at Gump's. He plugged away at that for years. 

It was a very wise decision. We're talking about a contribution to 
the store which was extremely important. Mr. Gump made the trips 
around to give these lectures, and years and years later, fifteen 
and twenty years later, people would come in and say, "I saw Mr. 
Gump in so-and-so, and he gave such a wonderful talk." This spread, 
the word got out. And to say that whatever 's in the store is 
handselected and is the best that they can get in the $5 range, the 
best they can get in design and quality, that points up the fact 
that we weren't working on snob appeal. Otherwise you'd be 
advertising that you have the most expensive thing you can get, and 
you'd only get that clientele. Snob appeal! Have you ever asked 
Gump about that? 



Riess : 



No. 






216 



Graham: He constantly worked at tearing that down. 

Faria: Whatever it was, it was a natural thing, it wasn't planned. If 

there was snob there it was because the people called it snob. The 
store didn't manufacture snob appeal. 

To me snob is when you walk in the store and the salesman 
looks down his nose at you and you feel you don't belong there. And 
you have people who love that kind of treatment, they love all this 
fawning over, certain people require it. We all know people like 
that. And you have stores that are very successful in doing that. 
They don't want the average person, they want just those people who 
have a certain amount of dough and they're going to spend a certain 
amount of money. They don't care about the rest of the people. I 
don't think Gump's was ever like that. 

Graham: Perhaps from the Oriental things and way back it might have gotten 
the reputation. And of course they always had the sterling silver 
and fine china. 

Faria: It's a reputation, but I don't think the store ever worked on it. I 
think it would be completely negative to what Mr. Gump was thinking. 
I don't remember the word snob mentioned in all my time there. 

Graham: At one time I. Magnin had a reputation, somewhat, for being very 

snobbish. Mr. Gump often mentioned that, and he definitely didn't 
want it. He wanted it easy for the customer to buy and that's the 
way he made it, right from the ground up. Little stories about the 
merchandise, informative leaflets enclosed with the gifts explaining 
about amethyst or jade or whatever it is, or Imari, or any of those 
things . 



Little Touches, from Labelling to Morale 



Faria: We had a card made specifically for the Antique Department. He 

wanted the prices typed on a certain typewriter to look like that 
card was printed in a printing press. Actually prices were being 
continually pulled off by people, and we were continually replacing 
them, and if sometimes we typed them on a regular typewriter he 
would bring them up. And he was right. Having that card look like 
it was printed for that two thousand or five thousand dollar thing 
made it important. And it wasn't just typed on, it had to be 
centered. 

Graham: And on a buff-colored card. 





-im^^>(^i/ia^/ 



X^T^VV v 




217 



Faria: A nice little card with a scrolled design on it. Now we're talking 
about attention to little details which are important. He wasn't a 
man for trivia, it's just that he wanted certain things to look a 
certain way. 

Graham: He wanted good taste right down to the stationery. For instance in 
our red envelopes that had a "Gump's" printed up in the corner we 
had a white label that you could put on. Well, the secretaries had 
to clip off that second Gump's label so that there was just one 
there, so that it looked nice when it arrived. These days they slap 
the label on there and they've got a "Gump's" here and another 
"Gump's" there and it looks terrible. [laughs] 

Faria: We're talking about the attention to detail coming from the top, and 
hiring people who can follow direction and also contribute, so that 
you're all working for the same thing. When you have employees at 
all levels enthusiastically contributing to the overall planning, 
you stimulate creativity and high morale. To me that was one of the 
strengths of the store, that everybody was involved in it, like a 
big family. 

And there was no morale problem while Gump was there. There 
was no morale problem because everybody was for the same thing, and 
they were not scared of losing their jobs. You weren't working on 
fear all the time; you actually were making a contribution to the 
family. And Mr. Gump at the end of the year would say, "We've had a 
wonderful year. Please do it again next year." He didn't pressure 
you day by day, he just wanted that by the end of the year you'd had 
a good year. You work in cycles with that type of operation anyway, 
you'll be high and low, but when you got to the end of the year 
you'd have increased your sales. If you keep on pressuring people 
it gets to the point where you can't pressure anymore. You can't 
get blood out of a turnip and maintain the policy and tradition of a 
company. You squeeze all the creativity out of people and they're 
not contributing anything, they're just following directions. 

Graham: His theory too was that a happy store had no one breathing down your 
neck; when the management treated everyone well and let them, as you 
say, express themselves and contribute, that relaxation filtered all 
the way down. 

Faria: That's something I never knew; I mean, I knew it was there but she's 
saying that it was something that he expressed to her. 

Graham: He was very much aware of that because he had some other stores in 
mind that he knew were pleasant places to work for all the staff, 
from top to bottom, and he said you could just feel it. Some years 
ago I remember him saying that most big stores only worked on 
figures as the bottom. An employer- specialist had told him the 



218 



Graham: biggest turnover in any employment in the United States is among 

department heads and key merchandisers, due mainly to their failure 
to meet projected sales figures. 

Faria: You have to monitor the thing, but you have to be reasonable, and 

maybe you have to nurture it. If something's gone haywire, you have 
to know it. But you cannot maintain certain standards if you are 
only concerned about figures and about the bottom line. It 
eventually becomes a bad bottom line if you're forcing it 
continually. You can see it in the companies that are great one 
year and then sold the next. 

Riess: Was there any policy about birthdays and bonuses and celebrations? 

Graham: Mr. Gump always had a box of four seats since the Giants came to 

town. First it was at Seal Stadium, and then over at Candlestick. 
And he would pass out the tickets- -there were a lot of people in the 
store who were fans. 

Faria: But we didn't have a lot of picnics or things. It was a family, but 
not to where everybody was doing social things. 

Graham: When you went to work you were a family, but when you left everyone 
went their own way. 

Riess: What about bonuses for a good year? 

Graham: For buyers I know there was some kind of bonus arrangement. For the 
rank and file it was just straight salaries. The salespeople had a 
commission basis, based on whatever the union at that time 
specified. Then if department did especially well they had a system 
for rewarding the buyers . 



The Notebooks and the Buying Trips. 1960 and 1964 



Riess: I see that you are a great sketcher, Mr. Faria. You and Mr. Gump 
must have kept busy with your notebooks on those buying trips. 

Faria: That was very valuable actually. On those trips we were buying so 
many different single items, and first of all you wanted to know 
that they'd shipped and you'd gotten what you purchased. I referred 
to those books continually. 

Riess: Both of you kept notebooks. 



219 



Faria: Yes. I did it for my setup, and he did it to for all of his trips, 
and he made at least one trip a year to Europe. I went on two 
three-month trips with him, in '60 and '64 and he showed me how he 
made his trips. That was a valuable piece of information. It was a 
learning experience in how to handle a trip. 

Riess: Did he set up everything from San Francisco, all his meetings? 

Faria: Yes. Over the years you find your sources. You learn that certain 
areas are good for certain things. So you know what your trip is 
going to be. By the time I got involved we had a pretty well- 
established source of contacts. Of course we never knew. Sometimes 
we'd go and find two things, sometimes twenty things. You'd never 
know. Sometimes the day before a decorator might have come in and 
bought the whole shop, or you could go for days and not find a 
thing, and then all of a sudden you get a find and it's all good. 

Riess: What fun! 

Faria: It is fun. Sometimes you're saying, oh God! and then you get to the 
end of a trip and you don't want to leave because you're on a roll. 
And sometimes you don't know, you think a price is high but you find 
out later in the trip that that was a very cheap price. So you have 
to balance it out. 

Riess: This is with antiques. 

Faria: Yes. With antiques. From one year to the next it can change 
radically. 

Riess: Did you learn to bargain from Mr. Gump? 

Faria: No, no you can't mess around with that. You look at the thing and 
say, "Okay, I want your best price." You don't want to fuss around, 
and you know in certain things what your limit is. The price is 
based mostly on how much you buy. The dealer gives you a price, and 
you know he's not making a fortune. 

The dealers over there don't make the kind of markup that we 
do. They buy at auction and put it on the floor and make ten or 
twenty percent, so they don't have a lot to play with. You know 
that. The dealer will say, "Let me know what you're going to buy." 
If you buy say twenty thousand or ten thousand or whatever he makes 
you a price based on what you're buying. But you don't really get a 
much better price than just anybody walking in. They don't have 
wholesale and retail. They're little shops and it's based on the 
quantity that you buy. You can't go through the hassle of dickering 
with these people. It's wearing. 

Graham: I got the idea Mr. Gump wasn't much interested in bargaining anyway. 



220 



Faria: No, he's not that type. He's not the type that would stand there 
and dicker with someone. 

Riess: What did you do at night on the buying trips? 

Faria: We stayed at good hotels and we ate at the best places. That was 
part of the trip, it was part of the routine. And of course I was 
with the boss, so I went along with it and it was fine! [laughs] I 
was lucky. 

Graham: You went back to the hotel at night and wrote purchase orders, 
didn't you? 

Faria: Oh yes, we weren't partying. In fact we drove many times until 
eight or nine at night. And of course you don't stop at some 
hamburger place, so sometimes we had to do without dinner because we 
drove too long. And then in France everything closes up; they just 
don't stay open. 

Riess: Did he take you to museums? 

Faria: Oh yes, that was the learning process. He enjoyed it and he could 
look at a thing and tell you all about it. He had a tremendous 
wealth of information. In all these things, he had an interest and 
he had exposure to them his whole life. He loved it. He was 
interested in what people were thinking and doing and how they did 
it. 

He had a very inquisitive mind. And he had a great love for 
history. He was a scholar! And he could remember. He could pull 
things out of the air that he might not have thought about for 
twenty years. When he was a kid he loved the soldiers and he loved 
battles and he loved history. He could tell you about battles and 
why they did it and how they did it and who did what. And he was 
always very interesting. He didn't repeat himself a lot. He would 
always have a new angle and a new experience. He's had so many 
experiences that he can always pull out of his mind something that 
you've never heard before. 

Riess: Did he sketch when he visited museums? 

Faria: He might, if it pleased him. He might have his book and be doing 
something and all of a sudden it's not just a quick sketch, it 
becomes more, because he enjoys what he's doing. He has a talent. 

Riess: And then he might have that piece of furniture, for instance, made 
here? 



Faria: 



Oh no, it's for identification. I'll cover that quickly because you 
want to know about it. When we'd go to a place and see a chair we'd 
make a quick sketch of it- -a few seconds, to pick out the prime 



221 



Faria: features of that chair for identification. And then when it is 
received you see you got what you purchased. Then when you're 
selling a thing--! used my book continuously and I could say, "Oh, 
yeah, we got this in Udine." That was something he indoctrinated me 
in and it was a useful tool. He did that every trip. I think that 
was a part of his job that he enjoyed. I don't know if somebody 
trained him in that. 

Graham: I think he said that Stanley Corcoran started it, but Mr. Gump 
amplified it, I'm sure. 

Faria: In sketching, if I were to do this table, all you need is the top 

and leg, and you've got the whole thing. 
. 
Riess : And did you photograph too? 

Faria: He did a lot of picture- taking and in some cases we took a lot of 
pictures. A lot of times you had to identify the piece by a 
photograph. But the prime reference was the notebook. You must 
have, what, twenty of them, Mrs. Graham? 

Graham: Oh yes. 

Riess: Did you come across other buyers on those trips? Did he have pals 
in the business who were out after the same stuff? 

Faria: No, we rarely came across people he knew, people from the trade. I 
don't recall any we even bumped into. 

Riess: On those trips in 1960 and 1964 was it just furniture he was after, 
or was he looking for all the departments? 

Faria: He was looking for a lot of things. I think it was in '60 we went 
down to Italy and we were looking for chinaware. I wasn't involved 
in that but I was with him on the trip. That was a good background 
experience. Then we looked for silver when I went with him. We 
were together- -well, we were together all day long. 

Riess: Did you attend musical performances when you traveled together? 

Faria: Yes, but not a lot. We were real busy. It's a lot of work, a trip 
like that. It's not a social thing. We stayed at the very fine 
places and we shot for the finest of everything, the best of shops. 
Everything was the best, the finest we could find. 

Riess: Did he come back with ideas for redesigning whole departments of 
Gump's from the trips? Or was it mainly just specific objects to 
sell or reproduce? 



222 



Faria: Oh, he went every year, and yes, I'm sure that some of the things he 
saw along the way might have sparked some ideas. But on the trips I 
went on with him I never had any knowledge of that. 



A Friendship, in the Store and in the Band 



Riess: I take it he wears well. That's a long time with your boss. 

Faria: Well, you have to adapt. If I couldn't get along with him I 
couldn't take it. You couldn't take it with anybody! But I 
understood him. And Mrs. Graham couldn't work with him for so long. 

Graham: You both have senses of humor. 

Faria: It's like any marriage, you have to be able to give and take. And 

then, when the chips are down, he remains the boss. I wasn't afraid 
of him, I told him what I thought. And of course he also drew on my 
experience, my technical background, so it tied together. 

I got to know him very well on those trips. It was much 
easier to discuss policies and future plans for my department away 
from the store in a more relaxed atmosphere. Also, having him 
involved with the buying and planning for my department helped in 
gaining support where I needed it. Our trips to the different 
European furniture manufacturers gave me a clearer picture of their 
capabilities and their limitations. 

Having made two three-month buying trips with Mr. Gump not 
only gave me the opportunity to know him better, but through his 
wealth of experience, gave me a chance to broaden my personal 
background. The trips were extremely valuable and two of my most 
memorable experiences. 

Riess: The two of you also have music in common, don't you? How did Mr. 
Gump discover that you were a fellow musician? 

Faria: Well, he checked the background, he knew the background of everybody 
when he hired them. 

Riess: And he called on you when he was putting the Guckenheimer Band 
together? 



223 



Faria: He said, "Can you play with us?" And at that time I couldn't, I was 
in the union. Then they were asked to make a record, and to make 
the record they had to join the union, and as soon as that happened 
he said, "Will you work with us?" And I said, "Sure." 

It was a goofy band. I'd think, "Geez, how can I put on this 
uniform and go out there and act like a boob?" you know. But I 
remember the first job I played with him was up in Mill Valley. It 
was fun and the people really enjoyed it and I said, "I really like 
this." People really loved that band, it was universal; kids and 
older people, they all loved it. From then on we played dozens and 
dozens of jobs, for a number of years. 

When Gump couldn't make it I took over the band. We worked 
continually. We were on a number of tv shows. We put on concerts 
all over the place, even the Opera House [opening night, October 1, 
1962]. It was an incredible group. Actually we could have put that 
on the road and made a complete career of that. It was far out at 
that time when we first started. Nobody was running around with 
funny costumes; everybody was conservative at that time. 

His music has been a very important part of his life, all the 
way from the time he was a very young person. He's had schooling in 
composition, he's a serious composer. He is still composing, 
continually. As far as his creativity now, it's in music. He has a 
tremendous knowledge of the opera. 

And he had always, as I say, been serious about his music. 
Even the German band. He arranged for the band; he studied the 
sounds of the old village German band, and the arrangements were 
made that way. We doctored up the arrangements. We reversed some 
of the parts to make it sound a particular way. He really worked at 
it. He spent a lot of time rehearsing and arranging and planning 
for this thing, even though it was goofy. 

Riess: What do you think the importance of the group was for Mr. Gump? 

Faria: It indicated his range of interests. Here was a serious musician- 
composer, and yet he loved that German band. It has to do with his 
humor. He thought it was funny and he knew people thought it was 
funny, and he was right. He had that sense of knowing what people 
would like. He liked things that were unusual and at that time that 
was unusual . 

Riess: It was some kind of outlet. 

Faria: I think so. He really loved that band and enjoyed playing with it. 
He didn't need that bandhe was a well-established executive of a 
store- -but it was part of his life. 



224 



Riess: Do you think that being a well-established executive of a store was 
a part of his life that he enjoyed as well? 

Faria: I don't think he could avoid enjoying it because it was part of his 
heritage, the family and the rest of it. 

Riess: That's a reason he might not enjoy it. 

Faria: I think it was a big responsibility to take over but he did it well. 
I think he did a tremendous job. In my experience the twenty- some 
years I was with him, I think that he did an incredible job. He was 
an excellent executive, he could leave the store and it ran exactly 
the same way as when he was there. That was because you knew the 
guidelines and because he allowed you to operate your department as 
your own, like your own business. He didn't need any monitoring, he 
didn't need people checking you. The figures would indicate what 
was going on. He knew that you would follow the quality and the-- 
not the rules so much as what the store stood for. That made it 
simple for him to leave. 

Riess: [to Graham] Was Paul an unusual department head? 

Faria: I could answer that. I think they're all handpicked and everybody 
had that same sense. In my experience they all had the same sense. 
Otherwise he wouldn't have gotten the results. And I see people 
now, they look back and say, "That was quite a place!" 

Mine was kind of a special thing. It was not just buying and 
selling, it was more involved with designing and the rest of it. 
But I think all the people had the same sense of freedom. 

Riess: Did he have a second in command? 

Graham: No. Like an understudy or something? He had a vice-president and a 
secretary- treasurer who was the controller of the store, and of 
course he worked very closely with them. 

Riess: How did the vice-president function? 

Graham: Well, he was the head of the Oriental Antiques Department and over 
the Jewelry Department. He worked very closely with the controller. 
Of course that was more to do with the figures and things because 
the controller never entered into the merchandising part of the 
business. But no, he didn't have an understudy, and that could 
havebeen one of the reasons that he eventually sold the store, one 
of the things that contributed to it. 

Faria: Of course that was one of the unusual things because you didn't have 
what would be considered a normal structure, you didn't have a 
general this and a special that, all these special echelons of 
people that you had to go through. You could talk to the boss. You 






225 



Faria: were continually working with Mr. Gump. You can't do that with 

every company. Most companies are not set up that way. He allowed 
you enough freedom, you didn't have to consult him. You 
knew what to do. Only on special points did you have to check with 
him- -or go through Mrs. Graham to see Mr. Gump to go over it with 
him. But not to check your daily operation or your monthly 
operation. If there was anything wrong he would come down and he'd 
talk to you. 

I've had experience the other way too where you have to ask to 
go to the restroom! To get a day off you have to go through five 
people! Structures where the management is taken out of the control 
of the department, where the manager can't even manage anymore. 
There's a big difference, and we're talking about costs, about 
quality, about control, about everything. Big structures kill 
contributions by people that are part of the structure. But there 
are certain organizations that you have to run that way because 
there are so many people. You have to have discipline in an 
organization. You can't run an army on the basis of everybody 
thinking what he wants to think and doing what he wants to do. 



The Store Brochure 



Riess: When you were at the store was the catalog responsible for many 
sales, or was it more a lure to get people into the store? 

Faria: It served the two purposes. The catalog was an excellent tool 

because it was such a good catalog. Just the quality of the catalog 
would indicate it was not the run-of-the-mill order house; it was a 
store and the catalog represented the quality of the store. So you 
had people who would definitely come in because they saw something 
in the catalog. Not only did they do that, but they also ordered 
from the catalog. 

Riess: Did people order furniture from the catalog? 

Faria: Yes. Well, furniture is not a catalog item. We sold a lot from the 
catalog, but small things. We had some silk tassels we got from 
Europe and that became a gift item. We sold thousands of them. 
Incredible! I made up a little package of wax for furniture. It 
was just wax but I put it in a box and made it a gift, and we sold 
lots of those. Furniture's not a catalog item but we might have 
something in there and they would see it and come in, and that would 



226 



Faria: 



Graham: 



Riess: 



Faria: 



stimulate a sale in our department. But not as a catalog item. It 
was usually related to something else. A chair, a dining chair, you 
have to see the table and the rest of it. We always had a a very 
beautiful display of things. It was mostly a promotional thing, a 
good picture of a dining room. Someone would see it in the catalog 
and come in, and from that we might make quite a few thousand 
dollars. 

Since I have been at the store we have always gotten out one 
brochure--or catalog, but I think they didn't like to call it a 
catalog- -and it came out in the fall, usually, so it was used for 
Christmas. And then throughout the year they would send it out to 
people who opened accounts. If customers hadn't been all through 
the store they could see what else was available. We had one a year 
for a long time; now the store has several a year. 



We're coming to the end of the tape, Mr. Faria. 
you think Richard Gump's great strengths were? 



Summing up , what do 



For the store, he was the right person for the job at that time, and 
he did a tremendous job. The time he was there, what he did, his 
style, and how he ran the store was right for the store. It is 
proven by the success of that store. If he had been the wrong 
person, the store wouldn't have made it. He came in at a time when 
things were changing after the war and he was the glue that held 
that thing together. Because he was creative he would not be 
assessed as the regular kind of executive, but the store didn't 
require "the regular kind of executive," it required an unusual 
person. And he filled the need. And for me it was a very 
fulfilling, exciting time of my life. I felt I was contributing and 
the store was an excellent place to be. 

For me, my time at the store with him was the most stimulating 
part of my career. Among the things I learned from him was that you 
don't do things by revolution, you do them by evolution. Another 
thing he believed was keeping the image of the store, not messing 
around with it. He said it was like a fighter, "Adapt and change." 



227 



APPENDICES 



A. 
B. 

C. 
D. 

E. 

F. 
G. 

H. 
I. 

J. 
K. 


"This is Gump's," store brochure. 

Statement of principles of merchandising, from Richard 
B. Gump, General Manager, October 31, 1944. 

Gump's Design Test, a 52-item sampling. 
"It's Time for Taste," from Retailing Home Furnishinas, 


228 

231 
233 

241 

245 
250 

251 
254 
256 

257 
it 


Spring, March, 1946. 

"Gump's: one of a kind," from Business Week, 
December 21, 1963. 

"Buy Words," from Where magazine, April 6, 1963. 

"Richard Gump Speaks Out," from The Antiques Dealer. 
July 1965. 

A correspondence on cable cars, 1947/1983. 
Resignation notice, Richard G. Gump, April 30, 1964. 
Gump's organizational charts, 1969 and 1970. 
Guckenheimer 's Sour Kraut Band, "Music for Non-Thinkers, 



"Oom-pah-pah in Hi-Fi," and "Sour Kraut in Hi-Fi." 260 

L. "Treasure Island," from Cal Monthly. October 1982, 

The Richard B. Gump South Pacific Biological Research 
Station. 266 



228 





THIS IS GUMP'S 

Gump's of San Francisco is a legend in a legendary 
city. Nearly 100 years old, this unique establishment 
has a world reputation as a mecca for lovers of fine 
art A tour of Gump's is a must for the discriminating 
tourist. 

Behind the doors of this famed Post Street store is 
treasure literally worth the ransom of kings: Imperial 
jade, period silver, paintings by modern masters, the 
finest of crystal and porcelain. 

The firm was founded by Solomon Gump in 1861, 
during California's roaring gold-rush days. Gump 
provided mirrors for San Francisco's saloons, and 
picture frames and gilded cornices for the mansions 
of the newly-rich. 

As San Francisco grew, Solomon's trading instincts 
and his love of art enabled him to broaden his stock- 
in-trade. Before the century was out, the company was 
selling pictures to go with the frames, and Solomon 
was making periodic trips to Europe in search of art 
for his wealthy patrons. 

Into this climate of culture came Solomon's son, 
A. Livingston Gump, who inherited the store on the 
death of his father. All of i ; -~ firm's stock was de 
stroyed in the earthquake thi i.:ruck San Francisco in 
1906, but "A. L." Gump was determined to rebuild. 
His perseverance was rewarded, and under his direc 
tion the store was greatly expanded. Soon he turned 
to the Orient for articles to meet the demands of his 
increasing clientele, and Gump's was embarked on an 
adventure with the Far East that was to establish the 
store as a world authority on Oriental art. 

Impressed with the great beauty of the Asian art 
pouring into the store, A. L. undertook a spectacular 
remodeling job. Skilled artisans were imported from 
China and Japan to construct a series of Oriumii 
rooms to show off the new treasure. Under their hands 



grew the rooms which were to make Gump's a "must- 
see" in San Francisco ... the Tansu Room, the Jade 
Room, the Lotus Room. 

A. L. was an extraordinary man. Nearly blind for 
the greater part of his life, it is said that he could 
determine the value of a jade carving by touch; his 
amazing memory enabled him to fix in his mind the 
description and location of nearly every article in the 
store His glowing accounts of things he could see, 
but dimly, often impressed customers as much as the 
objects themselves. 



Under his 40 years of guidance, A. L. provided the 
spirit that caused the store to develop until Gump's 
is now a byword for a marriage of the familiar and 
the exotic, the Occident and the Orient. 

Gump's is headed now by A. L.'s son, Richard. An 
artist-designer as well as a merchant, this third-genera 
tion president has broadened the scope of the store 
to include the arts and crafts of Mexico, Africa, and 
the South Seas, and the work of contemporary Ameri 
can and European artists. "One can never know where 



Hund<etii of European 

*d Ai'ifiican afcelloriei 

are dnplaytd in the 

Gift Department. 




229 



a new- or interesting craft or concept may be found," 
says Richard Gump "This is a challenge always be 
fore us." 

His best-selling book. "Good Titsie Cost: No More." 
provided the store with its well-known slogan The 
esthetic value of an object, notes the author, does not 
necessarily lie in its method of manufacture, its age, 
its cost, or its geographic origin. This philosophy of 
esthetics and design is graphically demonstrated in the 
merchandise handled by Gump's. 

"Beauty pays dividends," says Richard Gump. He 
makes this observation from a lifetime of study in the 
arts, crafts, and languages of many lands; the increas 
ing demand for the dazzling array of wares in the 
store is evidence of the truth of this statement. 

The technique of merchandise and window display 
for which the "ore is famous carries out the Presi 
dent's philosophy. Sip'fly and strikingly arranged are 
articles that may range from J5 to $5,000, from 
Bavarian wood-carvings to Buddhist sculptures. Gump's 
is not a huge store, but one is impressed with the 
planning and consideration that has been given to 
featuring merchandise, in the pleasing order of dis 
plays, table settings, furnished rooms, and special 
floor arrangements. 

That is part of the Gump's story . . . the rest is in 
the store itself, and on its three treasure-laden floors. 

A collection of jade carvings unrivalled in the world 
lies behind locked cabinets in the JADE ROOM. For 
such pieces of jade, which may range in price from 
$25 to $25,000, the kings of Asia waged wars and 
ravaged cities. But in the serenity of this room, visi 
tors may view these Stones of Heaven in quiet leisure. 

In the ORIENTAL DEPARTMENT are objects of anti 
quity, from grave pieces of the T'ang dynasty to 
exquisitely carved and tinted ivory figurines. Unusual 
Oriental furniture and silken scrolls are on display, 
along with superbly carved and painted screens, and 



stone garden sculpture. Here also is the only artidc 
in the store marked "Not For Sale". . . a colossal 
Tibetan Buddha, serene and enigmatic. 

But not all of the story lies in the exotic past of Asia. 

Much of the character that his made Gump's known 
as "the world's most unusual store" lies in the firm's 




Center of interest in Gutnp's Oriental Department ii thil 
colossal 18lh Centurj Tibetan Buddha. 






persistent search throughout the globe for things of 
ixaury, from tea sets to temple, bells, casseroles to 
crystal balls, Indian brocades to antique English silver. 
Buyers comb the continents in search of merchandise 
suitable for the store's distinctive tast*, and the deter 
mination of these treasure-traders has added many an 
adventurous footnote to the Gump legend: once, a 
buyer waited 10 patient months in Peking, simply to 
obtain a rare pair of ancient bowls. Other Gump s 
agents range far off the beaten paths, from Madrid 
to Mindanao, in search of the unusual. 

Each department adds to the flavor of the store. 
Richard Gump maintains ;hat good taste permits ;he 
successful mixing of furniture and art objects from 
various periods and countries. The versatile consul:- 
ants in the INTERIOR DESIGN DEPARTMENT are nation 
ally known for the creation of this effect, and are adert 
at devising interiors which express the personality of 
tin: individual. The department's design studios pro 
duce Gump-designed furniture available nowhere ei.-i. 



Gump' l Fashion Room present! leisure clothes and custom- 
designed gownt, using fabrics from all orer the uorld. 





Display of stone garden sculpture on third 



Just off the Oriental Department is the FASHION 
ROOM. In dramatic settings are shown custom-created 
originals, designed and produced in the store's own 
work-rooms, in fabrics ranging from one-of-a-kind 
Indian cottons to old tribute silks presented by the 
Mandarins to their emperors. 

GUMP'S ART GALLERY contributes to the stores 
diversity. A staff of experts, several of them artists 
in their own right, arranges monthly exhibitions of 
the best of contemporary paintings and sculpture. 
It is rare indeed when a show does not receive high 
praise from art critics. 

The store is a recognized authority on modern and 
antique silver; the finest work of European and 
American silversmiths is in the second floor SILVER 
ROOM. Selections in this vast array of silver range 
from contemporary bowls to 300-year-old spoons. 



230 



On the second floor also is the EUROPEAN ANTIQUES 
DEPARTMENT, where an outstanding display of fine 
furniture creates a unique Old \Vorld atmosphere in 
the heart of bustling San Francisco. 

In the CHINA AND GLASS DEPARTMENT is the largest 
selection of patterns in the West. Famous Gmori 
china from Italy, Wedgwood. Spode, Rosenthal and 
Lenox are among the more than 250 patterns; over 
150 stemware designs are in the glass section, includ 
ing Irish Waterford, a Gump exclusive in San Francisco. 
The store is proud of being the Northern California 
representative for Steuben glass. 

The LINKS' DEPARTMENT offers a great variety of 
exclusive weaves and embroideries Here are fabrics 
from the Philippines. Ireland, Switzerland, Madiera, 
Italy, in an exciting palette of colors, many of them 
woven exclusively for Gump's. 



On Gump's frit foor, lootinf from ire Oriental GI//I 
Department into the Lamp Studio. 





P.nl of ihe second floor Collector 1 .* Room featuring European 
Antiques. 



The first floor ORIENTAL GIFT DEPARTMENT offers 
unusual Japanese porcelains and lacquers, Persian 
copper and imported brass and bronze accessories. 

On the first floor is the GIFT DEPARTMENT, with 
a selection of merchandise gathered from the five 
continents: Eskimo carvings, chess sets in Italian 
marble, contemporary mosaic ashtrays from Germany 

The LAMP DEPARTMENT, also on the first floor, is 
unique in the United States. The store operates its 
own lamp studio staffed by lighting experts who 
create individualized lamps from bases and shade 
materials gathered from worldwide sources. 

The intriguing JEWEL ROOM offers jade, culture 
pearls especially selected for the store, jewelry in 
semi-precious stones, rings, bracelets, and necklaces 
at all prices to five figures. 



The Jewel Room is famous for tti Gttmp-desi&ned jewelry 
at alt prices, including culture pearls and jade. 




This, then, is Gump's: a treasure house . . . one of 
the world's most cosmopolitan stores in one of the 
world's most cosmopolitan cities This is probably the 
only store on earth where under one roof it is possible 
to buy a Chinese bronze bel'eved to be }0 centuries 
old. an early Scottish tankard, the Continental Army 
in exact miniature, or a contemporary Danish dining 
table. 



You're invited to linger, to browse, to hunt down 
a bargain, to invest in something precious. We wel 
come every visitor. So that we may keep in touch -with 
you, ask the nearest salesperson to pu; your name on 
our mailing list. Then you'll be sure to know of our 
latest finds, in our never-ending search for the un- 
usual and the beautiful. 

FIRST FLOOR 
Gift Department 
Oriental Gift Department 
Jewel Room 
Limps 

Bar Accessories 
Stationery 

SECOND TLOOR 
Silver Room 
European Antiques 
Steuben Glass Room 
China and Glass 
Bridal Registry 
Linens 

THIRD FLOOR 

Oriental Department 

Jade Room 

Paintings, Prints, Framing 

Fashion Room 

Interior Design Department 

Offices 



J50 POST STEET SAN FIANCISCO YUKON 7-1616 




231 

Fron file of G'J'-IP'S Kersliandising Principles 

October 31, 1944 
TO ALL EMPLOYEES: 



It has been six months, now, since I assumed the 
position and responsibility of being general manager of Gump's. 
This is my first opportunity to thank you for the sincere 
and thoughtful cooperation I feel you have given me. 

During these months. I have tried to establish a 
policy of operation. This policy is the large degree of 
freedom and independence never before granted the department 
heads. The reason is obvious - to encourage and stimulate 
their potential. This will, in turn, unify the efforts and 
relations between them and the persons working under them, 
so that we will all be working with a single viewpoint. 

Remember that no single department is responsible 
for the success of the store. It is the sum of the efforts 
of all of our departments and all of our employees. The 
success of one department brings success to the others. I 
am not attempting to accomplish my objectives overnight. I 
have a plan and I am relying on you to make it a reality. 
Anyone not in accord with or lacking the understanding of my 
plan serves no useful purpose in the organization. 

There are three things that are my goals to be kept 
in mind at all times: 

A. Good taste 

B. Originality whenever possible 

C. Knowledge of merchandise 

It matters not whether the item is a $2.50 ash tray 
or a $10,000 Jade necklace, the Gump label or wrapping should 
identify it as an item of flawless taste. Good taste is such 
an intangible, it will have to be left to my discretion as 
final Judge. To strengthen our reputation, I would rather 
lose sales than have our customers regret a purchase. 

As to originality, we want, we encourage, we insist 
on new ideas, creative and colorful designs. Any suggestions 
you have for merchandising or new merchandise, now or after 
the war, will be greatly appreciated. New and original ideas 
are not only welcome - they're imperative. As you are all 
aware, after the war the competition will be so keen that we 
can't afford to ever put ourselves in the position of copying 



232 



-2- 



another merchant, we must be one Jump ahead of him in dis 
play, advertising, merchandise and all phases of the business. 

To sell well we must have a knowledge of the goods 
we sell. Each sales-person, ' each department head, should be 
thoroughly and enthusiastically conversant with all the items 
in his department. They must know and appreciate the purpose 
and the design of their stock and be able to transmit their 
enthusiasm to their customers. A person ignorant of or 
apathetic to the merits of his goods can do little to stimu 
late a-desire for possession of them. 

We must -not let things stay too long in stock. This 
causes the establishment to be looked upon as a museum. We 
want a constant change, not only in style, ahead of competi 
tors, but new and constantly changing items. 

It will be my Job to further co-ordinate the activi 
ties of our various departments, to direct the flow of our 
creative efforts, to. keep our advertising and publicity abreast 
of store developments, to manage as to the spirit of the mer 
chandise and its presentation. 

May I repeat my main goals - good taste, originality 
and knowledge of merchandise - and thank you again for your 
past cooperation. May you be so in sympathy with my three 
aims, that your cooperation in the future will be automatic. 



-. -'' 



General Manager 



233 



GUMP'S DESIGN TEST 

Through experience we have found that our complete 

Design Test is an excellent measurement of people's 

design judgment. What's your answer to this sampling 

of 52 items from the test? 

Of its type, is the design of each item good or bad? 

(rather than would you like to own it yourself. ) 

Your answers will be weighed against the decisions 

of nationally- recognized design experts. Be encouraged 

we've found it impossible for anyone to agree 100% with 

the experts. 

Enclosed with the test is a sheet to check your choice 

of GOOD or BAD design. Later in the program we'll 

give you the answers by number. 

Richard Gump 

President 

GUMP'S, San Francisco 



KY 



:HECK CHECK 


TOUR YOUR 


:SOICE (X) Name: 




CHOICE (X) Name: 


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d 
o 'd 
O o5 
O fp 


d 
O at 
O 


I I 


-d 
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O o5 

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1 1 


18 18 


35 35 


(D ! 


(18) 18 


35 (35) 




2 2 


19 19 


36 36 




(D 2 


<> ^ 


36 (36) 




3 3 


20 20 


37 37 




3 


(29) 20 


37 (37) 




4 4 


21 21 


38 38 




4 (4) 


21 /S) 


33 , 




5 5 


22 22 


39 39 




' O 


22 


39 




6 6 


23 23 


40 40 




6 


23 (23) 


40 




















7 7 


24 24 


4l 4l 




1 (7) 


24 (24) 


41 




















8 8 


25 25 


42 42 




8 @> 


25 


(k2) 42 




9 9 


26 26 


43 43 




9 (?) 


2 6 <g) 


& 




10 10 


27 27 


44 44 




10 


(27) 27 


44 ~" 


I 


11 11 


28 28 


45 45 




11 > 


@ ae 


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ft 


12 12 


29 29 


46 46 




12 


29 t (g) 


46 (J?) 


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13 13 


30 30 


47 47 




13 <J3) 


30 (JO) 


4 7 




14 14 


31 31 


48 48 




14 @) 


31 


(J) 48 




15 15 
16 16 


32 32 
33 33 


49 49 




15 (15) 


(5s) 32 

(33) 33 


49 (^) 




'lExi 
.2 or underlie 
3-17 - GOOD 


t 














18-22 -AVERA 




17 17 


34 34 




17 (*7) 


34 (3^) 


23 or more-Dc 










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241 



. l\ick 




\ickard 



Manufacturer!, Buyen and Salespeople "Proudly Prd Extreme Ignorance of 

th Fundamental Demandi of Style and Good Deiign <t Evidenced by Moit of 

th Product! to Which Thty Devote Their livti" 



VERY day thousands of 
crimes are committed in 
thii country with the 
criminals escaping scot- 
free I 

These crime* go un 
punished because the 
perpetrators and their victims alike are 
ignorant of any wrongdoing. Many in 
deed take a naive pride in their mis 
deeds demonstrating an ignorance 
that combines lack of understanding 
and a truly monumental spiritual and 
mental laziness. 

Evidence of these crimes is, unfortu 
nately, all about us. It may be seen 
daily in most of the homes and store* 
of the United States. 

What are these crimes? Bluntly, 
they are crimes against good taste. 
They include an amazing percentage of 
all manufactured china, glassware, dec 
orative objects, lamps, silver, rug* and 
furniture sold in United State* stores. 

Who are the "criminals"? The av 
erage manufacturer of these monstrosi 
ties and his "accomplice*." These ac 
complice* are buyer*, who. in turn, have 
trained, as additional accomplices, their 
salespeople. Together they proudly 
parade extreme ignorance ot the funda 
mental demands of style and good de 
sign as evidenced by most of the prod 
ucts to which they devote their lives. 
As a result, United States retail store* 
display some of the most atrocious 
visual distortions ever dignified by the 
name of merchandise. 

Who are the victims? Mr. and Mrs. 
Public, who helplessly accept what i* 
given them and unwittingly perpetuate 
the cycle. 

Happily, there are isolated excep 
tions: Manufacturers and retailer* who 
respect their obligation* and the dig 
nity of their Cfciliutf. But for the indus 
try a* a whole, the simple facts require 
a blanket indictment. 



How some manufacturer* of home 
furnishings and "decorative" accenor- 
ies achieved "success" in businesses for 
which they are o patently unsurted. is 
a mystery. In every other field, a man 
ufacturer must have a thorough knowl 
edge of his product a* well as it* 
eventual use. Certainly, if an automo 
bile -manufacturer were equally ignor 
ant of his product, he would be forced 
out of the industry in a short time. The 
fact that he stays in business and is 
successful bespeaks either a thorough 
knowledge of engineering and a re 
alization that better locomotion i* the 
ultimate purpose of automobile*, or 
sufficient intelligence to turn that por 
tion of his manufacturing over to men 
with the competence required to do the 
job well. 

Oo the careless purveyor* of gee- 
gaws, knickknack* and thingamajigs 
know what final use will be demanded 
of their questionable product*? Obvi 
ously not I If they did, they would 
never have dreamed them up in the 
first place. 

Apart from usefulness, the ultimate 
purpose of all home furnishings i* to 
give visual pleasure. Since the manu 
facturer and the buyer alike are rarely 
guilty of even an informal art knowl 
edge and frequently unburdened by the 
simple requisites of good taste, they 
shy away from original thought or any 
genuinely creative work. Hence, their 
long-standing habit of tending in re 
peat order* for "good seller*." The 
reason for many item* becoming good 
sellers or a "hot line" i* because the 
harried salespeople must press these 
distortions on the public or lose their 
jobs. Woe unto the sale*clerk Who 
criticize* the buyer, for he i* monarch 
of all he purvey* I 

Let tt* consider this august person 
age, the buyer. 

Usually he'* chosen for seniority or 
"knowledge of the merchandise." Since 
seniority is usually synonymous with 
advanced yean, the merchandise he 
know* so well i* the tame tad stuff 
they've been in the habit of telling for ' 
lol these many, many season*. Some 
time* a buyer i* selected on the basis 
of being a friend of the bo** or "well 
liked in the trade." The latter attribute 
generally consist* of being able to pol 
ish off a quart of 1 00-proof ego-builder 
without involuntarily assuming a hori 
zontal position, and being able to re 
call without previou* notice the current 
smoking car anecdote*. 

What are the result* of these mal 
practice*? 

Let u* examine them in every field 
in which they can be found. 
First, the "crime*": 



In china 

Th china manufacturer* seern to 
have been influenced by Gertrude 
Stein'* "A rote i* a rose is a ro*e . . ." 
which they've amended to read, "A 
decoration i* a rote i* a rote . . ." Un 
fortunately, anything repeated loud 
enough and often enough make* a 
permanent impression on the public. 
One manufacturer boatt* that a rote 
that wa* designed for him 35 yean ago 
i* ttill telling well) In what other field 
can you find tuch tmug, complacent 
lack of progress? Perhap* Freud could 
diagnote thi* rote fixation. 

Our rigid china decoration mutt 
either follow the border of plate or 
have the design spotted in the center. 
Far worte, however, are the de*ign* 
themselves, which are usually slight 
variations on patterns established 40 to 
60 year* ago. Obviously the trade 
feel* the more dec 
oration, the more 
beautiful the china. 
They say it look* 
"rich." A more apt 
description would be 
"newly rich" I 

It is a serious 
charge against the 
china industry that, 
despite splendid 
know-how in manu 
facturing and result 
ant quality of prod- 
uct. American china- 
ware has been ruined 
by the habit of taste 
less decor. 
In LAMPS 
The purpose of a 
lamp i* to give light 
and in appearance to 
attain a feeling of 
unity of light, bate 
and thade. But alas, too many lamps 
hide their light under bushels of horses' 
head*, ballet dancer*, Pekinese, aborigi- 
nese. Chinese spitoont, giraffes, carafes, 
nude*, lump* of flower* or vegetation: 
in fact, anything to which the benefit* 
of science enable us to attach a light I 
In FURNITURE 
'Time-tested" designs are a mean- 
ingles* explanation for a great many 
furniture manufacturing styles. Natu 
rally, it i* easier to tteal from the past 
than to originate in the present. Thus 
in the 20th Century we continue to 
manufacture furniture with designs 
evolved from the limited methods and 
materials of the 1 8th Century. Ancient 
patterns in furniture are a* ridiculou* 
a* ancient pattern* in dress. Nor are 
the average manufacturer' conception* 
of "moderne" furniture any better 
too often they are simply meaningless 
designs with no sound architectural 
batis of construction and completely 
haphazard application of materials. 



In FABRICS 

In the medium price field, the great 
percentage of the upholstery and 
drapery fabric* Uttering the thelve* of 
tore* from Coast to Coast, show such 
lack of thought that it's impossible to 
discover what approach wa* used in 
designing them. It probably wa* "Give 
the public thi* and see if it sell* . . ." 
Perhaps the worst eyesore* are the 
irrohoiis, rayon* and velours. It i* well- 
nigh impossible to find an upholstered 
tuite that i* not further tortured by a 
covering of heavily patterned velour 
or an equally abominable brocade. Re 
ferred to a* "classy" by the trade, the 
"clas*" could be aptly described if per 
missible in print! 

Occasionally a drapery manufactur 
er uses rare ingenuity. Finding that red 
is a good seller in a competitive line, 
lie brings out red, too. What matter 
that there are a hundred thadet of this 
primary color) To him. a red is a red 
is a red . . . These masters of bad taste 
have succeeded in building a demand 
for pastels 
those pallid 
thade* that 
are the gray 
ghott* of col 
or* with real 
life. Too 
often a coa- 
t o m * r 
choosesa 
pastel shade 
frequently 
the only 
choice he haa 
and find* 
th a t o n 1 y 
other dead 
colon com 
bine with it. 
The reult 
home lack 
ing in color 
ful vitality. 

Of course, we find the rose complex 
in fabric design, too. The usual drapery 
patterns are so mixed and busy that it 
i* impossible to use them and complete 
a room in good taste. Surely if the 
makers had pictured these fabrics in an 
otherwise tastefully appointed interior, 
they would never have produced them. 
For years; monks-cloth and theatrical 
gauze have sold well and faithfully. 
Why> The answer is simple; they were 
honest fabrics, lacking in pretense. 



In GLASSWARE 

In both ttemware and decorati 
glass, the beauty of the basic materii 
usually has been destroyed by decori 
tion and embellishment. Here we ma 
blame the machine age for the hides 
examples teen on store shelves. 
simple, direct use of a material, 
beautiful examplet turned out by 
Colonial and early Waterford factors 
have never been surpassed. With 
splendid heritage to guide as, it is tu 
ly time that more American manufs 
turers. attained this same sincere 
proach toward unembellished ba 
form. 

In GIFTWARES 

Our last group indictment inclu. 
what are known to the trade as "di 
orative" objects or giftwares. Ace< 
ing to Webster, to be decorative an 
ject should adorn or beautify. H 
do the unhappy objects palmed of? 
the buyers sonambulating through- 
merchandise marts, contribute beaul 
Here we find not only the flower e< 
plex, but the animal complex as w 
We all love animals and are easily . 
suaded that a Scottie leaning againi 
pile of books is a handsome booki 
because we associate it with the 01 
nal. We mistake a sentimental att 
ment for decorative art. 

It is not surprising that a tremendi 
percentage of the American popula 
dread* the coming of the Cnristi 
season and the attendant struggle 
find a few gift* that will be possibli 
present with a feeling of good-i 
toward men. The suffering clerlu 
the Return Detk would not be on 
verge of nervous breakdowns if 
ware maker* applied tome ser i 
thought to the ultimate use and art 
wortK of their products. 

Accusation is never a popular de< : 
nor is the accuser always well-liked s 
admired for his pains. In this instae, 
however, the fact* speak for themtta 
and all that a large industrywide v 
dictment can hope to accomplish 
bring home to the errant defendai i 
simple, honest, self-appraisal. Nine 
forty six will force the issue quity 
Vacuum cleaners, automobiles, ran 
electrical appliances will perforce ' 
Mr. and Mrs. America's prime co d 
eration. Soon the perpetrators of \'. 

nest and ugliness for the home 
will find that their competition in 
other trades is no longer ham 
strung by shortages and war 
work. 

Nineteen forty six will be the 
biggest year the manufacturers 
of hard goods have ever had. In 
the household appliance field 
alone, the demand will be phe 
nomenal. The manufacturers of 
these appliances are prepared to 
supply the market with well-con 
trived, practical devices that are 
at good-looking as they are use- 

ML 






243 



The consumer will find that 
the chromium-plated coffee- 
maker he buys to use in harmony 
with his modern range and re 
frigerator, is more satisfying both 
for utility and appea ance than 
the elaborate tea set he has been 
using in hi "period" dining 
room. He will quickly come to 
the realization that the style and 
design of most of the things he 
has been living with for so many 
years are completely phoney 
because they are out of step 
with the life of today. Thii 
doesn't mean that he will de 
mand an equally false modern 
design, but rather, household 
furnishings and decorative ob- 
jects that combine 20th Century 
livability with beauty expressly 
styled for today's requirements. 

What is the solution > 

In the United States, today, 
there are countless competent 
designers, experienced in almost 
every field, who should be util- 
izid tc style products that are 
well executed, and honest in both 
utility and artistry products 
that will demonstrate the manu 
facturer's understanding of the 
ultimate use and place in today's 
homes of the things he makes; 
in short, functional designer*. 

This is not merely theorizing. 
Already, well-executed contem 
porary designs in china, glass, 
giftware*, lamps, silver, rug and 
furniture are on the market and 
quickly outselling the article* 
made by the outdated, hit-or- 
mi*s method. The manufactur 
er* of these practical expression* 
of modern taste are to be com 
plimented on their ability to 
spurn the hindsight of their more 
numerous competitor*, in favor 
of the foresight to hire an expert 
to handle the side of the busi 
ness they themselves don't un 
derstand; not an "expert" who 
started designing for the trade 
30 or 40 years ago and (till 
faithfully execute* hi* first suc 
cesses but rather, one who is 
in step both in year* and idea* 
with our time*. 

Throughout the country, a 
great majority of the blueprint* 
on the architect's drafting table* 
are of contemporary houses. 
These smart, practical, comfort 
able houses, eminently livable, 
which will be built by the hun 
dreds of thousands in 1946 and 
the years following, are not de 
signed to accommodate anything 
but honest furniture and acces 
sories of contemporary design. 

Forward-looking manufactur 
ers are already preparing to meet 
these architects and their up-to- 
date ideas half way. Yes. our 
lubject has its brighter side I 



Not long ago a china factory 
was persuaded to sell a line of 
fine coup-shaped ware with no 
decoration. Its intrinsic beauty 
lay in its shape and structure and 
it* perfect adaptability to mod 
ern interiors, it became an im 
mediate success. The same china. 
patterned a d embellished, 
would lose its most important 
qualities. 

In cooperation with the Mu 
seum of Modern Art. which will 
exhibit the best results, a fabric 
manufacturer is sponsoring a 
competition among designers for 
his product*. Not only will he 
secure outstanding fabrics for 
his looms, but in addition, the 
attendant publicity of the mu 
seum's show will stimulate a na 
tional interest i n his products. 

A justly famed American 
glass factory ha* a complete, 
long-range program that could 
well serve as a model for other 
manufacturers. It employ* a 
staff of artist* whose sketches 
and models are studied and im 
proved for a year or more until 
perfection is approached. Further 
this firm see* that the ratail 
store* that carry it* line present 
it properly, even going so far a*) 
to have it* own architect plan 
the room in which this fine glass 
will show to it* deserved advan 
tage. Then to carry through 
completely, the store must send 
a chosen salesperson to the man 
ufacturer's showroom to learn 
how best to present the product 
to the public. Needles* to say, 
this intelligent approach pay* 
dividends both in prestige and 
sale*. 

Unless the unprogressive man 
ufacturers of giftware* and ac 
cessories get "off the dime." they 
won't be worth a nickel a year 
from now. There is almost noth 
ing in thi* field to serve suitably 
a* accessories for well-done con 
temporary homes. Must the 
home* be barren of the objects 
that by adding warmth and color 
warmth and color to a house, in 
dividualized it? They must, un 
fortunately, rather than risk ruin 
ing an interior. Thi* field, per 
haps, offer* the greatest chal 
lenge to the progressive manu 
facturer. There are many fine 
craftsmen and artists who can 
create truly decorative object* 
that will make the American 
home uniquely beautiful. It is 
not up to the manufacturer him 
self to add hi* 2 cent*' worth to 
the artist*' design. He admits, in 
hiring the artist, that he himseJf 
is not artistically equipped. If 
the artist cannot meet the de 
mand* of the manufacturer, let 
him find one who can. Nothing 
is more unsuccessful thun too 
many fingers in the artistic pie. 



244 



Many lamps on today'* raar- 
ket are created by th *in top 
industrial designer* who plan 
imart kitchenware and houe- 
hold appliance* which for dura 
bility and appearance can't be 
beaten anywhere in the world. 
These lamp* are not expensive 
and are 10 popular that it i* al 
most impotable to meet the de 
mand. 

A large tilver manufacturer U 
unfortunately producing elabo 
rate pattern* in preference to the 
simpler, more adaptable flat 
ware al*o produced by hi* hotue 
an unhappy move now. when 
the demand for the unaffected in 
lilver i* the greatest in it* hi*- 
tory. In hollow-ware a* well, if 
the factorie* don't take a realis 
tic look at the world about them, 
quickly. Mr. and Mr*. America 
will buy instead, the handsome 
utensil* made of baser metal*, *o 
uperior in design to nearly 
everything manufactured in pre- 
ciou* metal*. 

Some rug manufacturer* are 
intelligently adapting their prod 
uct* to potential surrounding*. 
Simplicity i* the keynote, and 
they make unpretentious and 
appropriate use of new mate 
rial*. Soon, nearly all the tradi 
tional rug designs will be auto 
matically discarded. They have 
rarely complimented any type of 
room and are altogether out of 
keeping with the current trend of 
interior*. 

In rug*, fortunately, the pub 
lic ha* the alternate choice of 
olid color broadloom and car 
peting, but should have many 
more happy combination* in 
thi* type of covering with inter- 
eat supplied through weave and 
texture rather than through va 
riety of color and design. 

There is some fine furniture in 
all price ranges being designed 
and manufactured today; but 
not nearly enough to supply even 
a small portion of the present de 
mand. Here again, manufactur 



er* who have hired artistic 
"know-how" a* a car manufac 
turer hire* engineering "know- 
how," are responsible for the 
good example*. They have the 
ability to picture the ultimate 
setting in which their creation 
will be placed. They have 
learned that it isn't enough for a 
chair to leave the showroom ac 
companied by music from the 
ca*h register it must fit har 
moniously with it* new environ 
ment The*e manufacturer* see 
the future trend clearly and have 
set a pace that will soon force 
their competitor* to follow or get 
out of the race I 

We all know that it will be a 
long time, if ever, before any 
country can compete successful 
ly with American manufacturing 
method*. Our houses, furnish 
ing*, art object*, the very clothe* 
on our back*, however, have al 
ways been influenced and adapt 
ed frorjl European design. Since 
the war we have been cut off 
from thi* influence. For instance. 
during the** war year* American 
manufacturer* have established 
themselves a* world leader* in 
women'* clothing style*. From 
now on, the preeminent creative 
designs in women'* wear will be 
American-inspired a* well a* 
American-made. It is up to the 
manufacturer* of home furnish 
ing* and accessories to revolt just 
a* effectively against foreign in 
fluence. If we raise our own ar 
tistic standards, we won't have 
to raise tariff wall* to protect 
ourselves against the certain 
competition from the European 
market. 

It i* high time that the label 
"Made in America" stood for 
more than manufacturing speed 
and efficiency. It should stand 
a* well for artistic integrity. This. 
demand* that each of us, the 
manufacturer* and the buyers, 
start the ball rolling in our own 
field. 



Fro* 

RETAILING HOME FURNISHINGS 
SPRING, MARCH 19*6 



MARKETING 



246 



Gump's: one of a kind 

Famous old San Francisco store keeps its special 
emphasis on good design even while 
it reaches out for a less wealthy clientele 




The two-column ad in the New- 
Yorker magazine was a calculated 
bit of mercantile snobbery. It 
showed a moody store front with 
the name Gump's, and below it tin- 
words, "leave New York at noon . . . 
shop here at 3 p.m." That was all. 

To Gump's customers, and to a 
widening circle of shoppers, brows 
ers, and just plain visitors, it was 
enough. After 102 years, 54 of them 
at the same stand, Gump's is sy 
nonymous with San Francisco. Its 
glittering array of jades, antiques, 
home accents, contemporary art. and 
gift wares rivals Fisherman's Wharf, 
the Top of the Mark, and the Golden 
Gate Bridge as a tourist attraction. 

The venerable landmark in the 
fashionable shopping block of Post 
St. was also an irresistible lure to 
such New York retailers as Aber- 
crombie & Fitch, Brooks Bros., Dun- 
hill, Sulka. and Tiffany when they 
looked for branch sites they settled 
down as neighbors. 

Variety range. Gump's far-ranging 
popularity is out of proportion to its 
size a little over S4-million annual 
volume. Once the private preserve 
of the wealthy, the store now shares 
its treasures as readily with the S3.75 
shopper as with the 810,000 plunger. 
It's the only place in San Francisco 
where you can buy a S3.600 speci 
men of Steuben glass and a S5 tea 
set of imported Japanese terra cotta. 

Gump's attractions are its unique 
variety of selections and its solemn 
dedication to the proposition that 
"good taste costs no more." a slogan 
that is memorialized in the title of 
a brisk-selling book (Doubleday. 
1951, S5) from the pen of Pres. 
Richard B. Gump (cover), grandson 
of the founder. 

When controller Per Nevard closes 
the books next week on the Christ 
mas shopping season, they'll show 
319? of the store's 1963' volume. 
With June (bridesi and August 
(tourists). Christmas accounts for 



Pres. Gump (left < poses with Buddha 
only item in Gump's not for sale. 



247 

half the year's business. Gift pur 
chases account for half of Gump's 
unit volume, 401- of dollar sales. 

Off-beat start. Richard Gump, 57, 
owns 4()Cf of the family corporation 
and is a trustee for the other 60^. 
a comfortable position for an execu 
tive with stubborn instincts for 
swimming against the retail stream. 
He is a man of many faces mer 
chant, artist, author, musician, com 
poser, designer, lecturer, photo 
grapher, bon vivant. He studied 
boxing at the age of five, and despite 
a boyhood hunting accident that 
frustrated his athletic ambitions can 
still deck a belligerent brawler. 

His father, the late A. Livingston 
Gump, saw little promise of a mer 
chandising career in his son's future. 
"You're too artistic, too impractical, 
to be a businessman." he said sadly. 

Wrong prediction. By accepted 
retailing standards, the father was 
right, and the economic outlook for 
Gump's wasn't too bright when Dick 
took over as president in 1947 on his 
father's death. Seven years of knock 
ing about in Hollywood as a drafts 
man, set designer, actor's agent, and 
musical composer for the films had 
shattered some of his illusions about 
the Bohemian life. "I lived the life 
of wondering where to get ten 
bucks," he says. 

But he still was no business 
man. Heads wagged at the thought 
that the legendary Gump's was 
now in the faltering hands of a 
serious artist-musician who got his 
leisure kicks out of leading and play 
ing the clarinet in a thing called 
Guckenheimer's Sour Kraut Band. 

The worries were unnecessary. 
Gump more than doubled the store's 
sales volume, and his roughly 39r net 
profit after taxes is well ahead of the 
1.73% average for stores in the 82- 
million to S5-million bracket. 

I. Unorthodox tactics 

How did this maverick of retailing 
manage to widen the store's appeal 
without damage to its carriage trade 
popularity? 

He backed up a personal convic 
tion that customers of whatever eco 
nomic status welcome informed 
guidance in the selection of mer 
chandise, and that they're weary of 
the pomposity of self-anointed 
arbiters of style. Through some 300 
lectures around the V. S. and through 
his books two profitable sidelines 
he got it across that price is a poor 
index to good design. 

Gump's does not press for growth. 
"Instead of pressuring his executives 
for a 59c sales increase, the guy in 
charge should find out what's wrong 
with his merchandising policies. ' 




Gift department caters to the 83.75 shopper as well as to the $10.000 plunger. 
Whatever the price tag, Gump's insists the item be of good design. 




Lotus Room with its heavy Oriental flavor features authentic antiques tansu. 
garden sculptures, paintings, scrolls also has some reproductions. 




Tableware includes 237 patterns of fine china. 125 m stal patterns, and more than 
82 silver flatware patterns all available in Gump's stock. 






says Gump. The right merchandis 
ing policies will then naturally pro 
duce growth, he thinks. But the 
stress is on quality. 

Design test. In '1952 he devised a 
design test. Every applicant for a 
sales job must pass it with a score of 
GG^r or better, and every office and 
service employee must take it 
whether he passes or not. 

The job applicant is shown a 
looseleaf book of 137 illustrations 
classic furniture, room arrangements, 
dinner table settings, sculptures, 
vases, candelabra, silver flatware, 
crystal stemware and i.s required 
to rate each item good or bad de 
sign. He must get 91 "right" to be 
considered for a job. Test results are 
known only by the president and tin- 
personnel manager. 

Experts all. The test serves mul 
tiple purposes. By preselecting sales 
people of lofty taste standards, it 
gives the store a tone befitting its as 
sumptions of omniscience. It keep- 
the 170 employees on notice that 
Gump sees merchandising as some 
thing more than separating a cus 
tomer from his money. And it gives 
the president the comfortable as 
surance that customers' ears won't 
be assailed by the verbal posturings 
of glib but uninformed salesmen. 

"The successful merchandiser." 
says Gump, "i.s the one who ap 
preciates the ultimate use of the 
product, who looks critically at the 
product through the customer's eyes. 
Too many merchants are just buy 
ing and trading dollars. \Ve buy mer 
chandise. Our stock in trade is creat 
ing merchandise. 

"People expect us to have things 
they can't find anywhere else, and 
it's our job to accommodate them. 
We stay out of the competitive rat 
race." 

On the shelves. That's not strictly 
true. In china, glass stemware, and 
flat silver. Gump's is not only in the 
rat race but tries hard to lead it. 
Open shelves running the depth of 
the store display a variety that would 
be unusual for any store. There are 
place settings of 237 patterns of the 
most celebrated dinner china; 125 
patterns of crystal: and in sterling 
flatware 72 patterns of all the mem 
bers of the Silversmiths Guild plus 
those of the most famous foreign de 
signers. 

Close to S400.000 is tied up in 
china and crystal inventory. "We're 
not order takers." says veteran buyer 
Robert J. Sheldon. "When a cus 
tomer buys 11 couple of place set 
tings, or a dozen, she wants them 
now. oft the shelf, not a couple of 
weeks from now. We take pride in 
being able to accommodate her." 

You can also spot a few other com- 




"Good" 01 "bad" design test is given to 
all sales job applicants. 

petitive items. One telltale sign i.s the 
price tag. If it says S7.95 or S29.95. 
you can be pretty sure it's available 
elsewhere at the same price; if the 
tag reads 87.50. or S30. or any even 
amount, the chances are it's a 
Gump's exclusive. 

Price-tag phobia. Artificially- 
shaded prices are anathema to 
Richard Gump. He forbids them ex 
cept on competitive merchandise. 
And he takes a cold view of prac 
tices that emphasize price attraction. 

A few clays ago he paused at a 
cabinet of silver antiques, next to 
jade his most cherished collection. 
They were priced to 81.000 and 
higher. Inside he spotted a card 
reading "Reasonably priced." 

"Let's get rid of that sign." he told 
a salesman. "It's schlock}-. Anybody 
who doesn't know that the prices 
are reasonable doesn't deserve to 
own these lovely pieces. Any number 
of wholesalers in England would 
love to buy them at our price." 

Lint-picker. Gump is no button- 
punching executive in the classic 
tradition. He roams the three floors of 
the store with the pained expression 
of one sensing imminent disaster. 
Not much escapes his notice. The 
emotional energy that another mer 
chant would put into pressuring his 
people for bigger sales goes into lint- 
picking at Gump's. 

II. Shopping for Gump's 

The store's unorthodox approach 
to merchandising is typified in its 
lamp department, which sold some 
5.000 floor and table lamps last year. 



All but about 5*/t of them were cus 
tom-styled and built by Gump's. 

Head of the department is Gerry 
Dewey, 42. a Nebraskan with aca'- 
demic background in fine arts and 
design, including a spell at the 
Sorbonne. Gump's had no opening 
for him when he applied for a job 
in 1953, but his still undisclosed 
score in the design test caught the 
president's eye and Dewey was 
hired as an extra lamp salesman. 

Though he i.s department buyer, 
Dewey ouys few lamps. He pokes 
around distant lands for materials 
that can be converted into bases and 
for lampshade fabrics. Three years 
ago the store sent him to the Orient 
on a buying expedition. Last year he 
went around the world. 

In 1953. Pres. Gump found some 
ceremonial horns in Nepal that made 
excellent bases. They were so well 
received by customers that Dewey 
is still buying them. Good taste as 
delineated in Dewey 's custom de 
signs costs between $22.50 and 
81,000, including shades. All these 
lamps are Gump exclusives. 

Criteria. In lamps, as in exotic 
jade sculptures and jewelry. Orien 
tal antiques, fashion apparel, and 
gift wares, the first test that Gump's 
applies is whether they are good 
design, and. for their intended use. 
whether they are functional. 

If a product clears both hurdles 
and ^ seems compatible with the 
store's merchandise mix. the next 
question is whether it will sell. On a 
buying trip to Europe in 192S. Gump 
bought 250 sets of an item he found 
in a Carlsbad factory, and it went 
over with a thud. He didn't forget it. 
Now he buys a dozen or so and re 
orders if they're popular. 

Exclusive. 'if a manufacturer's out 
put is small. Gump's may take it all. 
Or the store may ask the manufac 
turer to modify the design exclu 
sively for Gump's. 

Alfredo Soriano, buyer of gift 
wares and bar accessories, made 
three pilgrimages in successive years 
to a factory in a remote European 
city before he could persuade the 
owner to make a gift item exclusively 
for Gump's. 

Soriano, who rarely visits the peri 
odic U.S. market showings of gift 
ware manufacturers, also keeps his 
transom open. A couple of years ago. 
a southern California rancher with a 
hand for ceramics brought a suitcase 
of his bowls, ash trays, and vases to 
Soriano's desk. The gift buyer liked 
them well enough to give them a test 
run on the selling floor. The store 
sold $20.000 worth in one year. 

Hot items. Soriano's eye for the 
unusual has helped to make thriving 
businesses of other "cottage" indus- 



249 



tries. A lint item riuht now is a line 
of mobiles, made ol colored trans 
parent discs, that ramies in price 
from $5 to $15. A San Francisco busi 
nessman brought some in last spring 
as examples of his wife's hobby. 
Even before the Christmas shopping 
season began. Glllllp s sold 2.500. 

"Find out what the public wants." 
says Gump, "and if it's in good taste 
push it for all you're worth." 

For a store whose price tags run 
up to $13.200 for a pair of carved 
jade urns. Gump's has sold astonish 
ing numbers of far less expensive 
specialties. A line of plastie trivets 
at S7 to $15 found 4.000 purchasers 
in seven months this year. Soriano 
found a covered glass cand\ jar in 
Portugal, sold 10.000 in eight years 
at Sfi.50. A line of enameled copper 
plates at $7.50 to $32.50 has sold 
by the thousands each year for 10 
vears. 



One stand. "\Ve have no plans 
for branches." says Gump, who 
closed out stores in Carmel. Calif., 
and Honolulu to settle his father's 
estate. "At best, a branch would be 
a limited Gump's. It's hard enough 
to find all the things we want for 
one store, especially antiques. That's 
why we had to send four buyers 
around the world this year." 

Cash and credit. About one-third 
of purchases at Gump's are for cash. 
The rest is divided among 75,000 
open-account credit customers, of 
whom three-fourths are in northern 
California, a tiny fraction in the 
Los Angeles area, and about 209 in 
other states. New York. Penn 
sylvania, and Illinois are "heavy 
duty" markets for Gump's, accord 
ing to credit manager William 
Bradley. The store has no budget 
plan credit except for china, glass, 
and silver, conforming to retail trade 



custom in those areas. Credit losses 
on open accounts are trifling less 
than one-quarter of 1% . 

Ad budget. Gump's is not a big 
advertiser. Before Christmas and 
again in June, it runs modest ads 
in the San Francisco papers and in 
the New Yorker magazine. The store 
took some space in this year's pre- 
Christmas issue of Holiday, and last 
year ran some copy in the western 
edition of the New York Times and 
in Realites. It also sponsors a 
weekly radio broadcast of opera. 

The total advertising budget runs 
about 2.59f of sales, and a good half 
of that is devoted to a catalogue. 
issued annually just before Christ 
mas. Although the store doesn't pro 
mote mail-order business, the cata 
logue generates a good deal of it. 
Among the 75.000 credit customers if 
commands a readership that would 
make Sears. Roebuck envious. 



buy words 



250 



To be an arbiter of taste in an age 
of mass production and conformity is 
j task to daunt any man: yet Richard 
Gump, who first took over full man 
agement of his family store on Post 
Street in 1947, has not only achieved 
this enviable position, but continues to 
crusade for better taste in American 
homes with wit and enthusiasm. 

In the pursuit of his ideals Mr. 
Gump had the example first of his 
grandfather, Solomon Gump, who 
founded the store in 1861. and second 
ly of his father, A. Livingston Gump, 
who grentlv enlarged the firm's inter 
ests after the great fire of 1906. 

Mr. A. L. Gump, although nearly 
blind for the greater part of his life, 
developed an extraordinary tactile sen 
sitivity, which enabled him to become 
a leading authority on jade. It was he 
who first imported oriental works of 
art to make Gump's known far and 
wide for its unique blend of the fa 
miliar and the recondite, in a highly 
successful marriage of East and West. 

It was a boyhood hunting accident 
that first gave Richard Gump the lei 
sure and opportunity to explore the 
fine arts. Denied his dream of becom 
ing a major-league baseball player, Mr. 
Gump turned to architecture, design, 
music composition and the practice of 
several musical instruments. 

After further studies at Stanford 
University, Mr. Gump joined the firm. 
In 1947, when he took over full man 
agement, Mr. Gump had his first op 
portunity of imposing, as his father 
and grandfather had done, his own 
views and personality on the family 
business. 

Richard Gump made clear, in a 
number of whimsical and provocative 
books, that all the conventional stand 
ards of taste were not for him, and not 
for his store either. 

In "Good Taste Costs No More," 
Mr. Gump juxtaposes two typical 
American women. The one thinks 
herself a woman of taste because she 
chooses everything to match, following 
the latest fashion in the glossier mag 
azines. 

The other, less sure of herself, feels 
her way among objects which repre 
sent her own way of living, mixing 
periods and styles. Mr. Gump leaves 
one in no doubt that he considers the, 

WHERE MAGAZINE 



second woman the more discriminat 
ing. 

As a discriminating and sophisticat 
ed person himself, Mr. Gump believes 
in looking at things with an innocent 
eye. Antiques arc not necessarily good 
because they are old. "It is better," he 
says, "to own a nobly conceived mod 
ern sculpture, at a tenth the price, 
than an ill conceived T'ang piece." 

Many fads and fashions have been 
the target of Richard Gump's sharp 
pen. "Families shouldn't save their best 
things for strangers and guests," he 
declares. "Aren't they good enough to 
use them for themselves?" 

In this fashion, Mr. Gump demol 
ishes the myth of formal entertaining, 
which he regards as an inconvenient 
jnd pretentious survival if it doesn't 
come oft naturally. 

Other butts for Richard Gump's wit 
are the "Let George Do It" school of 
design (George I, II, III and IV, that 
is), which has produced over the years 
those perversions of the styles of Geor 
gian England forever associated with 
Grand Rapids. 

The remarkable thing about this 
idealistic crusader for good taste is 
that his crusade has been successful: 
successful not only in persuading the 
ublic that it is better to buv the best, 



ut that it is often the best buy. 

This philosophy is put into practice 
at Gump's at every turn. An expen 
sive object of great beauty may find 
itself alongside a relatively inexpensive 
piece of merchandise which has justi 
fied its place there by being well de 
signed. 

The fastidious taste of the owner 
makes itself apparent in every aspect 
of the store. The window displays 
are always unexpected and imagi 
native, and although only three stories 
house sixteen different departments, 
there is an air of spaciousness through 
out. 

Among Mr. Gump's many-sided in 
terests has been the founding of the 
Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band, of 
which he is the unconventional Kap- 
pelmeister. Interestingly enough, Rich 
ard Gump is also a serious musician, 
with a number of symphonic, chamber 
and choral works to his credit. 

Of the seriousness of his aims to 
spread art appreciation over a wide 




-*^ m-fc^^fc-^c .* -^id**i * 

Mr. Richard Gump itands beiide the coloual 
18th century Tibetan statue of Buddha, which 
gazes down on Gump's Oriental department. 

public there can be no doubt. Mr. 
Gump lives by his own creed. 

His own office, the Sanctum Sanc 
torum, as it were, of the organization, 
he laughingly dismisses as "Primitive 
Charles II." It is, in fact, a tactfully 
decorated room, in which old and new 
blend together. 

No imposing office furniture to in 
timidate staff or client dominates the 
room. Instead, a simple Seventeenth 
Century table does service for lunch 
eon and as desk. 

In a nearby corner cupboard is a 
neat row of notebooks. Here are the 
fruits of Mr. Gump's world wide trav 
els. As he reflectively turns a page one 
catches a glimpse of a delicate little 
sketch of a French commode or a 
Georgian convex mirror, with a neatly 
written comment alongside. 

From this highly personal record 
come the exquisitely chosen objects 
that are found on the display counters 
and shelves of the store. Everything 
is judged on its own merit. There is 
no question of seeking a status symbol 
here. 

And yet, paradoxically enough, that 
is what Gump's itself has b -come. A 
gift-wrapped present from Gump's is 
a status symbol for all that is elegant, 
choice, and civilized. That is the final 
irony, which no one would appreciate 
better than Richard Gump himself. 

Apr U 6, 1963 



The Antiques Dealer, July, 1965. 



251 






Regular readers are familiar with 
Irene Hammond Corpe'i columns, San 
Francisco Showcase and Bay Area 
Showcase. Among the mail) fine retail 
establishment! she hat writtvn about 
n the fabulous Gump's of San Fran- 
Cisco. 

She wrote: "Om- of the must ex 
citing places to visit in Siin Francisco 
is Gump's on Post Street. (Their) 
buyers travel throughout the world for 
the best in antiques, and the store's 
annual catalog is a lesson in fine art," 

Richard Gump, third general/on 
owner of the firm, is a ram combination 
of astute businessman, cogent author 
and antiques expert particularly with 
regard to jade and Oriental art. Here, 
for the benefit of other dealers, tire 
some of the observations about the 
anliijties t\;itie from one of thr world' \ 
most UlCtrifjul iiierchitndisen uf mi- 
liijnes, Ed. 



Richard Gump Speaks Out 

On Buying and Selling Antiques, Good Display, Today's Dealers, 

Good Design and "Monstrosities" 



fly IRENE HAMMOND CORPE 



RICHARD GUMP, president of 
Gump's in San Francisco, has long 
believed that good taste not only does 
not cost extra but knows no season. 
He's aJways been appalled at some of 
the "monstrosities" that are sold under 
the loose designation "antique" M 
label that all too many people er 
roneously believe to be synonymous 
with good taste. 

Because of his extensive experiences 
in the antiques field, and because he 
has many practical ideas to share with 
dealers, THE ANTIQUES DEALER re 
cently asked Mr. Gump to outline some 
of his views and experiences, and to 
permit us tP explain his fa/nous 
"Design Test" as a guide to dealers 



who might wish to follow suit. 

Although Mr. Gump is full of en. 
thusiasm for buying and selling an 
tiques, he has some definite reserva 
tions about the trade as it is being 
conducted today. He feeN, lur tx.implc, 
that too m.my dealers are too new to 
the field. 

"Unless a dealer has a lifetime of 
handling antiques," he explained, "he 
tan often, through innocence, be duped 
when buying in Europe or in the 
Orient, and in turn innocently dupe 
his customers. It is the public, trusting 
die dealer as an expert, who has often 
been fooled by the poorly informed 
dealer, turning them away from nuking 
future purchases of antiques. If dealers 



are not well informed, they should 
seek training and study, Irrfact, dealing 
in antiques should constitute a life- 
tirne of study about antiques," 

Views on some of 
today's dealers 

"Another type of dealer who docs 
little for the trade is the one who 
rationalizes the authenticity of hty an 
tiques. These are the dealers who sell 
stories rather than the antiques them 
selves." In this category Mr, Gump 
plates those dealers who would sell 
a bed on the ba;i; that :crr.j cbscure 

continued 



joyal personage had slept in it rather 
than selling the bed on its inherent 
.merits, underscoring its fine design, 
^construction and color. If the piece 
in question is not a good example of 
its period, and us design Is not so fine 
and its construction is unusually poor, 
Mr. Gump is qukk to remind dealers, 
all the stones and rationalization in 
the world will not transform it into 
a masterpiece. 

Mr. dbfnp reports that he has fre 
quently betn taken back by dealers' 
lack of appreciation of good patina. 
He realize* that it's increasingly dif 
ficult to obtaie antiques in good shape, 
and that repair "work and restoration 
ire often essential before some pieces 
can be put on the sales floor. None 
theless, he urges dealers to be more 
cautious, and evaluate their pieces mo>e 
carefully before destroying old finishes 
under the guise of removing accumulat 
ed dirt. If the dealer is not sure about 
a particular finish, he should be willing 
lo admit it to himself, and employ a 
competent workman who does recog 
nize the important differences. Some of 
the most beautiful tables, Mr. Gump 
points out, are those which have stood 
in a front room window for years, mel 
lowing the wood to a degree impossible 
to duplicate. Yet a foolish dealer can 
destroy the lovely patina through simple 
ignorance and a desire to get rid of the 
dirt! 

Mr. Gump cited numerous examples 
of fine pieces whose value had been 
drastically reduced due to refinishing 
in order to make them look "like- 
new." 

His reputation 
precedes him 

The brief discussion of value sud 
denly brought out Mr. Gump's views 
on the necessity of buying at the right 
price. "Fortunately, Gump's can be 
choosy in picking items," he comment 
ed. "If something is over priced wt 
simply don't buy it. We work closely 
with selected dealers, and we do not 
bargain. If the price is right, we buy. 
But we refuse to haggle. If a dealer 
quotes us a price on a piece, and we 
have recently purchased a similar piece 
for less, we let him know it. If he 
comes down to our price that's fine. 
If he doesn't, we don't bargain." 

Mr. Gump confides that his reputa 
tion for refusing to bargain has often 
preceded him, which saves him trips 



to dealers who consistently over-!.. .. 
On the other hand, it is not unusual 
for him to virtually clear out a dealer's 
entire stock when good pieces at fair 
prices are for sale. 

Mr. Gump could not resist recount 
ing an experience or two which fit 
into the files of dealers' "classic" ex 
periences like the fellow who asks 
him to bid on, or buy a particular piece 
which belonged to his "great-great 
grandfather" and has been in his family 
"for ages." He cited an instance in 
which a museum director was invited 
to an ancestral home in Scotland to 
possibly purchase a painting by a 17th 
century artist. The painting, naturally, 
depicted an ancestor of the owner. 
Allowed to have a moment alone with 
the handsome painting, the museum 
director scrutinized the onvas texture 
and the paint and determined that it 
had been painted about 1900. Natural 
ly, he refused to buy it and angered 
the owner with his candid appraisal 
that the painting was too modern to 
be included in his museum's collection 
of work by the supposed artist. The 
owner's anger gave way to Curiosity, 
however, and after some investigation 
she wrote to the museum director to 
apologize for her anger. It seems that 
the original painting had been copied 
for her grandfather and the original 
was sold. The duplication was never 
discovered until she tried to raise some 
money with it. 

It's on the basis of just such ex 
periences that Mr. Gump feels that n 
dealer must be well informed to be 
successful, and that buying pieces solely 
for their "stories," or because the 
dealer "thinks" the pieces are authentic, 
adds up to bad business practice in 
the long run because such practices 
can only hurt customers. 

As for "monstrosities," Mr. Gump 
acknowledges the fact that very often 
in order to obtain some excellent pieces 
from an estate a dealer has to accept 
some rather horrible pieces. His ad 
vice is straight forward: "Don't sell 
these bad pieces as antiques and don't 
sell them as inherently valuable pieces. 
Sell them as curiosities - perhaps in 
some coses for their amusement value. 
Isn't thh tin aM//.ihif> ducnmtiit of tht 
1890 period? Or, don't add them to 
your own stock at all. Persuade a neigh 
boring sctond-hand dealer to take 
them. He'll sell them for what ever 
the traffic will bear. Or put the stuff 
out at auction with other pieces of 
little worth." 



Mr. ^ump and his buyers kee 
meticulous raords of .ill purchase 
which pro\ iilc a ready rc-tcrence < 
comparative costs .ind other pcrtnn.ii 
information. Mr. dump utilizes 
separate loose leal notebook for eaci 
of his buying inps. He sketches e.ic! 
purchase in detail, records sizes aiv 
dimensions and makes notes of pai 
ticutar \.iriations in hardware, etc. H 
records the cost, and when possibu 
photographs each piece with his Fold 
roid camera, pasting the print on th 
same page as his sketch. When th 
purchase is made an order numbe 
ii assigned to it and noted c;i th 
proper page of the notebook. Amonj 
Oihcr things, the system provides ai 
excellent check on i;ems as they arnvi 
from Europe or the Orient. 

If he is in search of particular piece 
for special customers, he includes thi 
special information in his noteboo! 
before departing. In addition to hi 
notebook. Mr. Gump says that he al 
ways carries a book of English hall 
marks with him on his buying trips 

' I 

Views on 
effective display 

On the subject of proper display 
our own observation is that Ginnp'. 
strongly believes in displaying each 
individual piece in such a fashior 
that it can be fully appreciated by it 
self. It may be grouped with similai 
pieces as part of a room setting 01 
displayed in a glass c.ise, but nothing 
is permitted to distract from the in. 
dividual beauty of each individual 
piece. Oriental antiques are a specialty 
of the house and they are displayed 
on the second floor of the store, 
while home accessories, lighting fix 
tures and lamps, silver and glass ara 
displayed on the main floor. There is 
no jumble or clutter in any part of 
the store. This is particularly true of 
the displays of antiques. There is suf 1 
ficitnt space maintained around >\nc 
between the various Hems to permit 
stepping back to get a good perspective 
on almost any individual item. 

Mr. Gump is definitely not an ad 
vocate o' a so-called "jumble display,' 
where antiquers can theoretical!] 
browse in the hope of discovering .. 
"treasure." (Are we to really belieu 

ihac Ulc "ilertauiS" ,j pfiCtfd that lo 

because the dealer just stuck it in 
pile totally unaware of its gre 



:ov 





253 






\alue.') This is not the display method 
t'o; Gump's! 

"But I know that it works in some 
places," says Mr. Gump. "I know of 
a dealer in Florence whose place is 
absolutely messy, His customers come 
m droves to search out items that they 
are sure are 'finds.' Unfortunately, 
this particular dealer is not above 
mixing reproductions among his true 
antiques, and never commits himself 
when a customer 'discovers' something 
in his shop. In fact, he has bt-en in 
cluding certain reproductions that sell 
well year after ye.ir, and they ire 
purchased simply because they look old 
to the customer - not because he .tay.\ 
they are antique." Mr. Gump urge.s 
caution with regard to jumble displays. 
He reports that they can work in 
reverse - keeping customers, and par 
ticularly connoisseurs, out of the shop. 

The man, the store and 
the famous "Test" 

Richard B. Gump is the third genera 
tion to head the firm, which was 
founded in 1861 by his grandfather. 



Solomon (jump. The store originally 
sold mirrors, frames and gilded corn 
ices, and Liter added European paint 
ings and objects of art. Mr. A. Liv 
ingston Gump, Richard Gump's father, 
introduced Oriental art to San Fran 
cisco. His specialty was jade and he 
put Giinijj\ in the forefront as first- 
rate specialists in fine jade and Oriental 
art. G/n/f'< survived the fire and 
earthquake of 1906, and went on to 
add many other departments, and to 
increase the size and scope of their 
Oriental antiques and jade collections. 

Richard Gump is a noted lecturer 
and the author of two books: (V/W 
Tinie Cosi.i i\o More, and /,/</(: Slutie 
i.j lli-tii-fii. He is a painter u! mile- and 
an accomplished musician. Finally, 
and of considerable interest, he devel 
oped the Ciiniiji DIM/.;'// Tf^/ for us; 
in his firm. 

The test was developed for use by 
Mr. Gump in his particular endeavors, 
and copies are not available to the 
public. However, he has generously 
permitted us to outline its develop 
ment and use in order that others may 
adapt the basic idea of the test to 
their own needs if they wish. 



The completed Giintp Design Test 
consists of 137 illustrations, bound to 
gether in a loose leaf binder, com 
plete with illustrations that are pro 
tected by clear, plastic covers. The 
illustrations include furniture, antiques, 
lamps, vases, Oriental sculpture, and 
many other items. The applicant marks 
a separate sheet of paper with his 
verdict on each item: good or bad 
design. Mr. Gump acknowledges that 
the test judges opinion, and that the 
results are strictly subjective. The re 
sults, howeser, clearly indicate that the 
subject has or has not some concept 
of good taste and good design. 

Experience with the test, which has 
been used by the store for some years, 
indicates that it has been very valuable 
in maintaining a scale of taste for an 
entire retail organization as well as 
for employment applicants. 

Just as Mr, (lump points out that 
good taste knows no season and costs 
no more hwu(it'ul antiques will be 
just as desirc.ible and handsome to 
morrow as they are today. 

And those are some of the observa 
tions of a man who is both a con 
noisseur and a master merchandiser. 



254 




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255 




It'm this way . . . 
only an Franclico 
has cable ears 

CaliU caj il you'vA ntvar SAAO. thtm 
AT* gAy. Ught-riAArtAd UltlA contrApuonA 
with tinkling btlli thAI play sprightly tunas 
11 up And down th San FrAncisco hill* 
ThAy hava A gtntU Vtctohan air thAt re 
minds Almost tvarycna ol thosA InnocAnt 
days whtn Atomic mtAnt loraathmg imAll 

Evan thair bait Iriands Admit thAt lh 
CAbl* can AT About In* world'i moil c- 
CAntric form of transportation. Cabla CAT 
rldArt chAArlully tAkA thA imt chAncAA 
thAI thA And mm on IhA Olympic Bob slAd 
Tsam doAI. but initAAd of An award. thAy 
jusl cAtch hAll lor btmg lat to th* olticA. 
In Any othAr dry, CAblA CAT* 
would b rAtir*d to A plaas- 
an t DAAturA. PaopJ could vlAil 
thAm on sunny day* And 
ItAd thAm old llt hAtt thAt 
WAFA rulnAd whAn thAy blaw 
oil cab; CAT rdtrs hAAd*. 
Bui In sAnlimAntAl San 
FrAncisco. brothAr has tumAd against 
brothAr, lathar AgAlnst son, And of count. 
wilt AgAintt husband in grim baitlt. 

Down At PoWtll And Markat whtrt lha 
CAAh cujtomtrs happily hAlp push thA CATS 
on Ihsir tumtails lhar'l thA lams laaling 
In tht Air thai pAnfAdAd tha liAld ol Shlloh 
th dAy bsiors baltlt WA* join td . . . 

Out At ;ha psnloui comAr ol Jackson And 
Powtll, A doughty conductor MIS his lltll* 
CAP sirAight. WAVAS to AdmtTAn on thA 
sidAlir.ss And thouti "Hold on, wt'rt turn 
ing shArp!" . . . whllt on All AldtA tcho bit- 
lAr CTIAS ol "ThA cabla cars must gel" or 
"Tht CAblA cars lortvAri" 

Today thA Calilomla StTAAt CAblA CAT 
still comAS to A surphSAd hall in IhA middl 
ol Chinatown with Grant Avsnua s lurtlVA 
mystAriAt sprtAd on both ildAs Somiima, 
wh.n It gsts hallway up Nob Hill. II hai to 
slids back down And Hart ovir again. Bui 
thA SAmA San Franciscans who mak cow 
ardly clutchss At AACn Olhtr's COAI-IAlU All 

through this slidA-lor-lilt. say. II IhA cabls 
cars go, WA might as vll glvA IhA ciiy 
back to thA conqulAtAdoTAt. 

Gump'i thinks thA tim* 
has com* lor lortlgn m:sr- 
Y.ntion II ft* think so too 
A'd Ilk* to know. 

II jf* plan 10 islt San 
Francisco sontA dAy And 
look lorwArd to riding on A 
CAbJA CAT. wrilA ui. Or. il you 
think thAt cabis cars bAlong 
in Lmbo with clippAr ships. buAtlAA And 
outdoor bsr ga/dans. by All msans drop 
us A lins 

Gump's which has waathsrKl IhA tran 
sition Irom clipptr thipA to DCS't is nAu- 
uaJ WA'U AAA thAI your Isttsrs go to IhA 
proper AuthontiAi lor rapl considAration. 

Thii lin't A privAtA fight Any mort tty 
* can jt into it So will you wrltA our 
San FrAnciAco storA At 250 Pot\ SU-AAI 
And lAll uj how jo Issi About CA>IA CA 
lor hAAVAn't sakas? 





150 roll ITIIIT 

SAN 'IANCIICO 
HONOIULU.CAIMI1 



tem Timt 
uly 7, 7947 



I 
Ju 



FltAAA UAA thA rtTAOA sid 

(AT cAAtlag yAiu bAlltrf 




Jleople who like big cities mostly 
claim that the three in this country 
with the most personality are San 
Francisco. New York; and New Or 
leans. Except people Irom Chicago 
and Texas. They seem to prefer 
Chicago and Texas, but we won't 
go into that. 

Cable cars add considerable zest 
to San Francisco's personality, to 
it appears to us at Gump's that the 
pros and cons should be clearly 
staled. 

Quite a few local corriTniitr* 
would put it this way sentiment is 
not high in the S o'clock rush. It 
sinks lower yet as the homeward- 
bound sees maybe three brimming 
cable cars in a row jingle by 

Or there are the limes when you 
see you can just catch the car at 
the corner until you notice cablo 
cars sitting hopelessly at every 
corner up the r.lreit. Broken cabled 

On the r.idc of the cable.i ir. ihe 
sheer funniness of the mountain- 
climbing bantams. Their passen 
gers tend to smile lolerantly in 
stead of glare when they re shoved 
No other form ol transportation can 
make that statement 1 

Then there are the unhurried 
rides on a starry night silting &n an 
outside bench . . the sophi.'-.ncaied 
young officers who peer down ihe 
cubic.' .slut liyi.-iy lu:>ceiici>v il wurii. 1 . 
. . . the pretty girl tourists who 
clutch the inside poler; a.-, tne cnr 
starts down the hill . . . Gurnp . 
being a part of San Franci.ico lor 
too. is an interested non-combotan: 
in this battle be!ween tradition fjnd 
progress. (Fortunately, wo liovn 
both.) But we would like to have 
your opinions on the cabio car.' 
So won't you write us- ol 7.50 Po:;! 
Street? We'll send your letters on to 
the proper authorities 

You might as well get in the 
scrap everyone ol.-.e i:; 1 




GUIHP'3 

250 POST STREET 



256 



CLOCK NOTICE at GUMP'S 









RICHARD B. GUMP 




GUMP'S MERCHANDISE DEPARTMENTS 

Department 1 - Gifts Alfredo Soriano Ronald E. Wong 

Department 18 - Bar Accessories Director (Buyer) Assistant Director 

Department 2 - Silver Marion Motylewski Mrs. Marilyn T. ] 

Director (Buyer) Assistant Director 

Department 3 - Art Gallery M. Dana Reich 

Director 

Department 4 - Oriental Art Gerald D. Dewey John C. Chung 

Director Buyer 

Department 6 - Oriental Gifts Mrs. Vera Anders 

" Assistant Director 

Department 11 - Lamps Mrs. Ulla Spear 

Assistant Director 

Department 5 - Furniture Paul C. Faria 

Department 19 - European Antiques Director (Buyer) 

Design Studio Miss Eleanor M. Forbes. A.I.D. 

Director 

Department 7 - Jewelry ?_h.?_ r . l ?^_ E - Goodmann Miss Marilyn Klar 

Department 13 - Bags & Scarves DirectorTBuyer) Assistant to Direc 

Department 14 - Costume Jewelry 

Department 8 - Fashion Miss Jane De Vivier Mrs. Ro Fulton 

Director (Buyer) " Assistant Director 

. 

Department 9 - Glass Mrs., _Bobette_Luciani Co . Directors (B uver< 

Department 10 - China Edward M. Matson 

Department 15 - Travel Bags Wilber J. Sanderson 

Department 20 - Books 

Department 16 - Baccarat Room .... Miss Dina_Manfredi Mrs. Dorothy Sia: 

Director "(Buyer] Assistant to Direc 

Department 17 -Stationery Mrs 1 Bernice M. Yates 

Director IBuyerJ 

Department 22 - Custom Framing. . . Mrs._Sally__Parks 

Director (Buyer) 



9 2 69 



258 
OTHER DEPARTMENTS 






Ric bar d_B G u m_p_ 
General Manager 

Mrs. Sylvia Birkeland 
Assfsta'nt to Controller 

Mrs. Ann C. Clifford 
Foreign invoice Accountant 

Mrs. Clariece B. Graham 
Secretary "to Richard B. "Gump 

Rp_bert_J^ Mahoney 
Display Director 

David Wolfgang 

Assistant Display Director 



Mrs. Dulo_re_s_McCarthy 
Credit Manager 

Per B. Nevard 
Controller 

Harry Orbelian 

Service Superintendent (Delivery. Building 

Security) 
Mrs_. _Eda Parpdi 
Personnel Manager 

WUber J. Sanderson 
Advertising Director 

Mrs. Lor_r_aine_VVillis 

Supervisor. Adjustment Department. 



BOARD OF DIRECTORS. GUMP'S INC. 



Richard B. Gump 
Robert A. Barton 
Carl Waller 
Austin J. Farrell 
Per Nevard 
C. E. Graham 
Raymond C. Hagel 
James Mcllhenny 
Warren Smith 
Harry Orbelian 



President 

Vice President. Finance 

Vice President. Administration 

Secretary 

Treasurer 

Assistant Secretary 












IMP'S INC. 



259 
President - Richard B. Gump 



Executive Secretary - Clartece Graham 



Design Studio - Eleanor Forbes 



Managing Director as of 2/18/70 

Executive Vice President - Chris Stritzineer 



Merchandise Manager. Assistant 



Art Gallery - Dana Reich 



Sec. - 



China & Glass - Bobette Luciani, Michael Barcun, (Aina Oqvist 



Crystal (Baccarat) - Dina Manfredi, Dorothy Siani 



Furniture. European Antiques - Paul Faria (Emily Newell - Sec. 



Jack Barker - Assistant, Merchandising & Floor Display 
Michael O'Connor - Assistant, Administration (inc.Personn 

Supervision) and Stock Control 
Gifts & Bar Accessories - Alfredo Soriano. Ron Wong, 

(Diane Neuman) 

Jewelry - Charles Goodmann. Marilu Klar, Linda Duncan 
Oriental Antiques & Gifts; Lamps - Gerald Dewey (Joyce Mark) 



John Chung - Buyer, Oriental Antiques 
Vera Anderson - Assistant, Oriental 
Ulla Spear - Assistant, Lamps 
Silver - Mario Motylewski. Marilyn Mardecich, (Marge Floherty 



Stationery - Bernice Yates 



Women's Fashions & Accessories - Jane DeVivier 



Margaret Robinson (Mary Ann Richardson) 
Treasurer and Controller - Per Nevard. Earl Resch, (Lucia Zorbas) 



Accounting 



Adjustments - Lorraine Willis 



Audit 



Credit - Dolores McCarthy. Robert Coffman 



Expense Control 



Personnel - Eda Parodi 



Service Superintendent - Harrv Qrbelian. Olga Flynn 



Receiving - Dominic Anzalone 

Warehousing 

Protection 

Carpentry 

Maintenance 

Services Supplies 

Delivery 



Marketing Manager 



Advertising - Wilber Sanderson 



Display - Robert Mahoney 






A "! Orthophonic" High , ,M, rcordinf 



IVfGSIC FO 




262 

GUCKENHEIMER'S SOUR KRAUT BAND. 

Just outside San Francisco's Opera House one recent night, the nine members of 
Gurkenheimer's Sour Kraut Band shuffled silently into their musical firing position, 
'Cappelmeister Guckenheimer raised a match-stick like a baton. 

"Ready, Eerr Schmidt?" he asked, 
'Ya, ready, " said Schmidt, 
' Ready Herr Glotz?" 

Ya, lei's give mitt it out, " growled gutteral Glotz. 
'Ready, the rest of mine* bums?" 

, ya. " came the chorus, "We're ready, Herr Guckenheimer. " 



"The leader's arm swooped down p foot slapping the pavemento Ein, zwein, drel and 
7hat went for music fractured the night air, wailing oompahs from the flugelhorn, 
him derous boom -booms from the trommel, mad chiming of the glockenspiel. At 
-hat exact moment, strictly by design, the doors swung open and the homeward-bound 
ausic lovers, finishing their bee with Beethoven, emerged to be assaulted by the 
Dff-key rendition of "Komiost Ein Vcgel Gefflogen" (A Bird Comes Flying). To a mai 
he opera patrons paled. 

7or a moment on this March of Dimes night it was touch and go. Would the opera 
joers laugh or lynch? Then some one snickered. And the snicker swelled to a might 
*unaw as the crowd ganged around the huffing, puffing Sour Krauts in their ill-fitting 
iniformSc 

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, " interrupted a woman in diamonds and decolletage, "what in 
iieaven's name are you playing"? 

''The Marchfrom Dimes, " said the leader, passing round his spiked helmet. Coin 
after coin plopped into the headgear until it was abrim with money for polio victims, 
of course. Beethoven from his grave must have led the applause, it was that tremenc 

That experience was nothing new for the Sour Krauts. They are forever stealing the 
3how ; These mad musicians, probably the zaniest group in the nation, are actually 
staid business and professional men from the Bay Area. Their roster reads largely 
like a Who's Who (See Personnel List). 

At the drop of an octave, the fun -loving Sour Krauts will play almost anywhere at 
slrocst any time, They think their hobby is rewarding. They Ve given concerts for 
iha wounded in veteran's hospitals; they've played at lodge picnics, harvest festivals. 
church socials, club meetings. They also have offered their services to any political 
candidate who can deliver a platform to satisfy all of them, which to date has never 
happened, 



263 

Guckenheiiuer's Sour Kraut Band, 

-2- 

At the Sonoma Wine Festival they were solemnly awarded a prize 'Tor Valor, " In 
Virginia City, Nevada, fretting to play for the sake of playing, the unpredictable Soi 
Krauts stopped on a street corner, set up their instruments and gave an unschedulec 
concert for two ragged urchins and their lop-eared dog. Natives of Virginia City 
refer to their visit as "the greatest event since President Grant came to town* 

At the dedication of a department store escalator, with the nesdy benefiting, the Krz 
had the time of their lives. They rode the escalators while playing, and found out tl 
on the up-trip, their number "Alta Kammeraden" ended exactly with the ending of th 
ride on the fifth and last floor escalator. Not a tootle left over. Cn the down -trip, 
"Deutschiand Uber AUes" fitted to perfection. E nearly broke their hearts when the 
rcissed being invited to a brewery opening. They wanted to try playing the flugelhor 
under schnapps. 

Gump, formed the Sour Krauts in 1949 for no more lofty a motive, originally, than i 
let off steam and have fun. They Invented the Guckenheimer monicker because it 
soundsd "good and German, " Since they were all musically talented, they rehearse 
as often as possible to be sure they wouldn't all be in tune and on time. Another re* 
quirement was the ability to wear with dignity and aplomb a set of uniforms that 
obviously were classified as Army surplus shortly after the Franco -Prussian War. 
For the sake of additional color, they were soon calling each other by outlandish Gs 
names and talking gutteral. 

With their Gorman descent purely of the r: malt and hops" variety, any resemblance 
any good old-fashioned German band is absolutely accidental. Still, they say their 
unusual avocation has a personally practical aspect. 

"2 everything goes to pot, " explains Eerr Gump lightly, "we can always open a bee; 
hall. " What he doesn't mention is that the play-acting Sour Krauts find desp satis- 
fecdon nowadays in seeing their hobby help othars. 












264 



the sourest gcrman 

tillage band music flcr! : 
. "'*.-'* 



H!DH FlDtLlir 



oom-pah-poh 

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hi-fi - 



WITH THI GUCKENHf 1MEI SOU* XtAUT IAND 



iTIO"Cr .' (AUK . V^BH CT ! 

Kon.m.fT . -unit -rat potftt.1 CA.I- 
* TOCH. tcriocc*^.- tin n. M MM . 



tT muotC rntt rw, <*; food |OOd Mir 
ouM make you (Ml a*nrr I* Oo u a* dkfl 
Atonhcimar Sair Kraut Ba 



toad. 






d camMualy . . 

* ao*ma ia to trwt TWn>uatcprpoo 
that you can prama* pod fwhng Md ow 

i to* at i Carman villaf* iau*n 

TV Cwckftuwtmcri . . . nmTi>jifijHi 

*,!- ia, OKBuOt a< lu r^.lhorm Ull 

. . . c*nv inio toin| M 1MI wfc*a RjcnaM 
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d Utenu. vu dtfcuMtDf tte Cflnwrnpormrr 
trend ip*rt '*; canmmiiiMCJOB of OM 
ChritrmM icuor ttft iwvrtl mgiully to- 
ClilMri trtcnd* l StuMlllO. C* Jlonua . . OM 
Orel tovn rtf -*f* "* rw M*T 
Amnc Uiroufh rr* Golden Can Aj n^rtot 
tfvir OVB uwiifiiad. tr* ChruimM iptnt 
dvy imiTxrtiinl) fornwtf i TMV fra ud 
pUrri C*rmvi *il!if* tend mutc on SAMB- 
Un *UM* carwri Thl* arauMd Mm* 
wputcTwm. tf rxa otn |ood mi. 

IiftM uuirummu ipp*r^ i to tht jpwir 
Umii of pc ,&.* o-^.ci . r*ctiraniMCMn. DW 



MINI kN ACAINKT TW 
KJKCAL WORLD 



boori** otrtciMi Biambmhlp rvquiramaan 
(to ability to ear viOi diajury aad kptotno 
OBI of wUforma tfv r oonouaJy *>* cUaaiOod 
a* Armr lurptua Menljr aftor 9m Fnaee- 
Pnauiaa War. 

Ok tha miMUl .id. on of tha band*! r^m 
at/Kur raquu*m*aa la chat meti n 
muat to canal itwenaUy uaAMatopUy tr 
or OR njrm To data, Ma mamtorahip K*J 
Umiiad te am onfttei UM mmton 
MMaimBic poaaad chu acid toot ThorU ' 

oaMar by ych or|tniutloiM aa d Saa Caor* LlcMy. Businaea E 

Frcnciaco Sjrrnpnony GYVhaatri and tM Gump. Writor Ban 

PrvKiace Ov*n Company, hao Uly m- Eaanam Raton E*rr1kn. Catawi Hator 

ducad highly laftvmonMwa cofKnauooa 10 UU*i* fNoao*itai. Daaiciwr Gaorft Aon. 

dv muaic cwltun of chu couwry U ."Cuckaav toy. SakamaaCookMCanrpy. Buauwaa Eaac- 

toinwr* Sour Knw Baod " aa* Hairy Mokter Md Arcwaci RJckArt 

TXu jfugu* ortaniuooa (ouBdod ko HUB. 

1*4*. wr, HIM Sauaallta gtmUina* of -n- Tkla rt|M Mloetian af pa-raanaal hoo n>- 



Th* fl Arw. lonf m*dBf 



Thla (trot rocor4U| Of ch* G 
p<oto> waa mada vwrr condJtwaa idaaJ for OB 
CTTM rrproducttoa o) DM uni^uaJ rtbfc rc- 
d by Dick Hian oa am nflhan. Caqraa 
UciKy't baaa drum vtd 5oe KvUcax 1 * on 

;oraty LMd HalJ ui Qtbtnd *M Uv rocort- 
tol loeatM. Haearftinf ancuwar BUI Erajal. 
to u oa ma uAat'unptiCerperiDm jaad 
cto kacaoi Amp> modal UO Oaa mika *M 
Mad (or p*ck ue Nanjrtllr iaea thai *os 
preuuv Ccrmaa rypa bmnd *ad " 
Aotfco* okierophoaai L**vio TV oat * OM 
ooawa aad aatur&l il>""nn t in n 

i' CapiuJ to aainag 



OBIT T 



t.nudtfla too eomaJataly maaurvd Om in af pUyua] 

n folk aanaa and Hlf* Garmaa "Dw. Dw, Iwfai TUT un Hanov." tUiMlua' 

yon* vtnaaaanwoninoaaaiava aawslf t Bmv-quantT aad tour -four urn. 

bat te Uatn totMfroue for M aoi manoaa wnwa of 'Lhalor Oto 



H*r o> oiac Ftvr C 

aa praoaw Uv Oabud MOAMB - Riekart 



rr. itv MuoMkllT irndtcfiid "Cn* 
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'*prp**wtiflf tfviac " fwrti". 
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WMT aad ee-MtMior of Saa Fn 
RanerOa. kap aoua m ~+- *M - 



dai bud H - iu * mo*una Md aw i 



ri An c 



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JOB of OMaJluaa Hdt *tuaJ aad 
ical. Oo Om vwwoJ aaki. aaa of OM 



d t of cha 
n M promoter of OM 

Md UVatUM *ti*rt CMC* ffMal. 

aamod NOT ae laai at aoa ia 



r ueu kjmi Aad nan UdaifnMitf dwu 

r[ Wakmw to i You caaBaeoa>- 

ood nrtneiuaf fro* laa Fraauaea 



aad - - 
NCTTOBY 



THE MUSICIANS 



oraaaiaar of tta> Cwc f 



HUB * *il 



it am ioaa-n . . CUneax. la MOV lonaaJiy 

^ed iTrraai a^wtup to uw Cro-a- rrweiaco for M Nauonal Swfy Carpon- 

.ncM FMtr Corperaoo- taatUf to) do. Kia urlvr M4l hi* naehod 

IIM i^fa of peavr tuaw. * * '* > * l*u-ofi af 
Caaeaa BaM. -. - ia tta mm row of OMI 

BUM o .. Drum. M Caerf* LKMy awaritry vtadxaaL 

" " n *aBi toa*r^ - Trvnoax. ja Riavn koc- 



o( fua (...- 

coJUp trudaBi Ha , A ,~ Prwar 
Dnnwuc An t*a Ua^vraHT Cii> 



* sr:' r-r.'iit.- 






265 



8! 

. 00 








tspossible. 
If the dreams 



T tike Hawi.. where the fauna is hut tcr~ 



-!O pay off * customer's debt. When thev^wen though Moorea lies as fo east as* 
'Gumps dissolved the corporation and ^Hawaii. it has a much richer selection^ 



^Berkeley scientists come true, the ' 



Soum Seas estate. He considered be^^.lfislands that-art a-r stepping siomtffor^ 



research station in the South Pacific. Ust but mthc advice of a friend. San fnart&rfuiBariac biologist. Barro*' ; ^nds- 
December. Richard Gump, who for 25 ~ v cisc6 attorney Louis Heilbron '28, he ^nost of his time "in Moorea under, water, 
years managed San Francisco's exclush^chose CaL "The University of California; T^He's found the deep bays ideal for diving. 
Gumps store, donated his Polynesian::':-^ has research dealing with oceans and-f^and there's a large coral reef where die: 



jLCboks Bay, Moorea to Cat The v: 5- . 
\[ property, widt its high volcanic plugs, ~ 

turquo^tr blue lagoons, and waterMsr 
^ that appear and disappear as suddenly as-, 
i the tropical showers, is. in the words of '- 



the giftr explains Gump, who is astSt~ 
enthusiastic as the scientists are aboutS 
the development of the land. (He has > 
fo.pt 1 2 of the 35 acres in a living trust? ! 
-^ that he may continue to spend severart 



Two years ago. Barlow and ento 
mologist Werner Loner took a break 
. from their campus work to appraise the; 
property's suitability as :.a research site . 



on Moorea that may help mem to solve i 
[many mysteries about die earth.^U;- ' 
^ And what do the scientists have to say? 
^ : rrhis is an unbelievable opportunity, 1 ^ 



Tahiti (eight hours), they landed in ':'-f7 Gump chose to contribute'to Cal's r~~<* : bcii cve s 1 t he answers may offer insights;,, 
.Papeete, the bustling capital of the? ,^^ progranu."Scientists in the Westenr ^ >> intotherMMidsbetweenmenaiidwonieri^ 
' Society Wands, and boarded a boat SSfSf* world don't have much opportunity ta : Werner Loher is impressed with POly-t 

bound for Moorea. In PaoPao. tbe>- were:: gp to good stations in the tropics. Thenr ^j^ because it has crickets. During the" 



: met ny a i oyota jeep ana iww urge -...^.y. are stations on inc grcai uamcr rea u^. -^j j 2 years, he has studied the repro- 
Polynesian men \\iio then drove the Australia, and diere are reef stations on; ducth behavior ^^of Ausnalian crickets^V 



for snorkcling") just off Gump's beach:.. 
"The fish are very tame and accessible-* 
mere." says Barlow.. who hopes onegajf 
to use the spot to introduce students- : 
to'marine bjiology. Of special interest to 
the dhing professor are the monogamous, 
fish in Cooks Bay. "Why- do these fish ^ 
pair for lifer asks Barlow, since fidelity? 
is rarely nature's way. .Hie fish Barlow; , 
found off .Moorea, also abandon their: V! . 
oflspring at birth. "Their behavior raises- 



and coconut trees to the lush plantation | remote and there always are problems fond rf j^ nn-jodious insectx.*Their^ 



to explore the waters and land on and 
^around die estate. Cong before their 
j jj time was up. they concluded that access 
I ' to Moorea could expand Berkeley's.' ?i 
U' research Cur beyond current limits^ -~- ~* 
< When the word reached the campuv 
'/scholars from all branches of science. 
r including anthropokigy. herpetolog>v ; 
j^botany, ichthyologj-. paleontology, and: 
~ geology, m?de plans to visit the site- VJ 
% "I am so pleased to find that this, -# 

proptTU- is as valuable to science as it 
. * has been to me." Gump told us in his ~ 
- Sin Francisco penthouse last spring. . 
[ The 76->r-okt art collector, who also 
has homes in Florence. Italy, and Badga-r 

stein, ^ermam'. was in town for the 
: performance of ms own composition, a 

symphonic poem based on die tale of 
/ ; King Lear, ft was played by the Univer- 



laboratory^!:;? 1 -- -"':'' - . " -? / --'* 
There are other advantages, toot ^ ' 
Unlike Tahiti Moorea is industry free. ; ' - 
sparsely populated, and not troubled by 
pollution of its air and water. In fact, 
some of the forests there are said to be 
\irtuallyxsuntouchcdasthcywcrewhen 
British mariner Captain Cook sailed to 
the islands to observe die Transit of 
Venus in 1769. The. political climate in: 
French Polynesia is stable ( important for 
long-term studies, says Barlow, whose 
research in Nicaragua has been post 
poned indefinitely). "The intellectual 
climate also is conducive to scientific 
inquiry. The French already have a 
research base on Moorea, where they 
cultivate freshwater shrimp. Finally, and 
" perhaps the best news of all, Moorea 
Iks outside of the typhoon belt that 



who has followed die tune around the, 
world. (He is serenaded daily in his 
Giaimini Hall office by a Tahitian cricket 
that shares his desk.) The crickets on - 
Moorea actually belong to the samcftg 
family as those in Northern Australia-,"; 
However, on Moorea. the shiny creature- 



Senturia, and "turned out rather well, 

reported Gump, who invited his new 

scientist friends to die private concert. 

A composer of both classical and ". 

modem music ("no rock"). Gumpalso 
. paints. His wateraifafs (many ofthem 

are Polynesian scenes) hang in major - - 
-. collections around the world A lecturer 
' on aesdietics. he also has written: 

popular hooks on jade and one called 

Good Taste Costs No MatK - 



islands, ; . - 

-ft's the best of both worlds." says- 
Barlow, who points out that it only 
takes 10 minutes by air to reach Papeete 
for supplies, equipment, and good 
phone connections. : =-" . 
. He continues: "Moorea is an outlier: 
Most of the tropical fauna emanates 
from the mdo Australian Archipelago. 
The fanner east you move, the more 
'-- out until VTHI cefto a -'- 



'Treasure Islanc 

October 1982 
California Monti 



267 



I^SaifrnSnuTc^ in %? ?*** <*& 

^itian,^k^TT 1 efdu^S : of fe'IT^SS^gT^ ""* '* *& 
t^shipmvnnniuVclu^^^ 






.on campus, let alone. thousands of miles- 
:oflrcampus. ; "Vte've been told that wcL 



i'^hatV ori the islamt theVII look fir 

---- 






priman- source of support, 
for"the rest-arch station. Not onlv has 



^^construction and equipment cost* bi\-- 
^"JS300.000 fin the station. Another S r L", 
3* $100.000 per year, will be'needed to^ 

^-- pay for a resident director and therrtii-vi 
:^'. station's upkeep. "Vl'e'rt' looking for ari:^ 



7^* interest to support 'the sttu'on year^-~~: v 
T:! "after \x-ar." Barlow adds.-'~--~-; ' r ^^ v "' 



scientists to use rus home and jeep i 
during their mis to Ma^re^C 5?a^ 
urnished them with a seven4dkmMt 



anomej.o toured the c-sate and. ; 
- ,.,., ^, h ( ; ump ^^ thc ximtiii ^ 

rand their plaas. Vtlien Gump asked him ' 
what he thouglit about all of it. the-: ~r 7- 
attorney ga/ed across the hay. shrupgcd_;~ 
and said. "Vtell. it's i-asy to see why .*. : -<^ 
the>- \vant to come here;7~ ,-- ; ." .--' ':'" 

"Don't kid yourself." ansxvi-red^iiinip. 
"TTicy'rc'not coming for the XTCI*.-"^....;;. 



268 



The Richard B. Gump South Pacific Biological Research Stati 




[March 1987] 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICE OF THE DEAN GIANNINI HALL BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA < 



Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

I want to introduce you to the new UC Berkeley Biological Station on the island of 
Moorea, French Polynesia. In this report, I will summarize it< history, briefly describe its facili 
ties and ongoing research, and list some recent achievement. 

A MOST GENEROUS GIFT 

In December 1981, Mr. Richard Gump of San Francisco transferred to the 
University of California at Berkeley the title of his 35-acre estate on the island of Moorea on 
the condition that a biological station be built and dedicated to research, preservation of the 
environment and to the benefit of the Polynesian people. On March 9, 1985, the Station was 
inaugurated with the dedication of its first building, a dormitory, a donation from Mr. Gump. 
The guests included the representative of UC Berkeley, Vice Chancellor Park, officials from the 
Polynesian and French governments and their respective research organizations, and members 
of the Tahitian business community. 

The dormitory is a two-story structure on the West shore of Cook's Bay, designed 
in Tahitian style by architect Patrick Siu, and blends beautifully and unobtrusively into the 
environment. Following the dedication of the building, several 
speakers stressed the Station's mission as an international center for 
research in marine and terrestrial biology and the opportunity it 
affords for collaboration with our Tahitian/French colleagues. 



Domiitor 
Lnborator 
Dive lock 
Aquarium 
Inscctary 
Cretnhou 
Worksite; 



THE OPERATION OF THE STATION 

We have hired Rick Steger, a recent Ph.D. from the 
Zoology Department at UC Berkeley, as Station Manager Rick is an 
expert on the behavioral ecology of marine crustaceans He will 
continue his research there, in addition to taking care of ilie Station. 
Rick gathered considerable experience for the job while working 
toward his doctorate at the Smithsonian Institute in Panama. Two Tahitians are also employed 
part-time to maintain and improve the Station. 




269 



FACILITIES 



\ 



The Station's dormitory is now fully furnished and can accommodate 10 visiting 
scientists. The ground floor consists of two bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchen and a 
communal bathroom. The main sleeping area is upstairs, conveniently partitioned for privacy. 
Moorea has finally obtained general electricity and the Station has 
recently been connected to its network. Our defect-prone generator 
has been relegated for use as a backup system in anticipation of the 
island's frequent power failures. 

Our equipment pool is still modest and consists of a 
pickup truck, an 18-foot motor boat, scuba diving gear, an 
aircompressor, and several dissecting and compound microscopes. 
We also have the basis for a library on the fauna and flora of the 
South Seas and its islands, donated by members of the departments 
of Zoology and Entomology on campus. 




VISITORS AND RESEARCH AT THE STATION 

The main objective of our new Station is to create a focus for research in tropical 
island biology. Although we do not yet have a laboratory, scientists interested in field studies 
can work out of the dormitory particularly on projects in marine and terrestrial 
biosystematics, natural history, ecology and behavior. 



The International Coral Reef Congress convened at Tahiti last May. This gave us the 
opportunity to introduce the Station to the international scientific community. In addition to 
the many requests for information, 25 conference scientists visited the Station for several days 
and surveyed the marine environment for the feasibility of their projects, such as the taxonomy 
and ecology of marine algae, coral reef degradation and recuperation, behavioral ecology of reef 
fishes, symbiosis between fish and corals, and the biology of sea turtles. 



RECENT RESEARCH 

Apart from such pilot studies, four longer term projects have so far been pursued: 

D In 1984, E. Schlinger (UC Berkeley, Dept. of Entomology) initiated an 
arthropod survey at different altitudes, catching insects and spiders by hand during daytime 
and setting traps for the night-active creatures. Over 50,000 specimens were collected, among 
them several endemic species new to science. The survey will continue. 

D Over a period of three years, from 1982 to 1984, W. Loher and L. Orsak, (UC 
Berkeley, Dept. of Entomology) studied the acoustic behavior of field crickets and their 
nocturnal singing rhythmicity. Crickets are excellent models for studying the effects of time 
shifts on our own biological clock. A comparison between the temporal occurrence of cricket 
calling in the natural environment and under standardized laboratory conditions at Berkeley 
yielded surprising results: provided the same light-dark cycle was employed, the times of onset 
and termination of their nightly singing were similar, and so wab the duration of singing 
activity. This similarity was obtained in spite of substantial differences in light intensity and 



270 

quality and in the absence of dusk and dawn conditions in a simplified laboratory setting. The 
overriding importance of photopenod in the regulation of arcadian singing rhythms now paves 
the way for studies on the functions of behavioral rhythmicity in nature and the search for the 
integrating biological clock. 

D During a five-week period in 1985. D Garcia, (UC Berkeley, Biological Conttol) 
studied the mosquito problem on Moorea and possible ways for its biological control. Three 
mosquito species were studied. A mosquito pathogen was employed against larval stages of all 
three species. Whereas rwo species were found to be extremely sensitive to low dosages of the 
pathogen, which was effective for as long as 10 days, one species was immune to even high 
dosages. A significant reduction in the numbers of mosquitoes of all three -species would be 
achieved, however, if an organized disposal program of man-made breeding sources such as 
throw-away containers, etc. could be launched. These studies are of obvious benefit to Tahitian 
tounsm. 

D The mission of P. Tsao, (UC Riverside, Dept. of Plant Pathology) in the Fall 
1985 strikingly demonstrated the power and success of international cooperation. While 
following up a request from the Polynesian Government for a specialist in diseases on vanilla, 1 
was fortunate to find P. Tsao, who is one of the foremost experts on fungal diseases. The three- 
week investigation was co-sponsored by the Polynesian Government and by the Station 
through a grant from Mr. Gump. Working with the Tahitian plant pathologist L Mu, they 
showed by pathogen isolation and plant inoculation that rwo species of fungi, Phytophthora 
palmivora and P parositiai are the primary cause of vanilla root rot and a vanilla blight, which 
causes defective brown spots on all parts of the plant. These new findings should help the 
Polynesian Ministry of Agriculture reorient their future research efforts and develop effective 
control measures for this devastating disease, so that eventually vanilla production will be 
brought back to the economically important level it had once enjoyed. 

Cooperation with our French colleagues also extends to basic research projects. We 
have signed an "Intent of Cooperation" with the Environmental Center at Opunohu Bay, 
located about seven km down the road from the Station. This French laboratory has been of 
great assistance to us and we are now planning to do a joint survey of fishes in Cook's Bay and 
the lagoon surrounding the island. 

FINANCIAL STATUS OF THE STATION 

To date, the Station consists of one building the dormitory. To become fully m nt fraroltd 

functional, we need a laboratory and several support structures, such as divelocker, aquarium, 
insectary, greenhouse and a workshop. An illustrated brochure which 
details our needs is available upon request. We are currently seeking 
funds for completing the Station and for an operating endownment. 
Understandably, State of California funds cannot be used for our 
project. 

Interested colleagues are cordially invited to use the 
Station for their research within the aforementioned fields of study. I 
also welcome inquiries from individuals who would like to know 




more about the Station and who are interested in supporting the critical biological research 
being conducted in this unique and scientifically important Pacific region 

The- Station fees are $15.00/night or $400.00/month and are kept intentionally low 
to make a stay affordable. A modest fee is imposed for the use of the boat and scuba-diving 
gear. Applications will be accepted by Dr. Werner Loher, Department of Entomology, 201 
Wellman Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720, phone: 415-642-0975. 

The Richard B Gump South Pacific Biological Research Station welcomes you. 



Sincerely, 
vVemer Loher 
Director 



INDEX -Gump 



271 



Abplanalp, Fritz, 81 

Adams, Ann, 25 

Allen, Judson, 21, 47, 90 

Altman, Ludwig, 143 

Amos Parrish & Co., 88 

anti-Semitism, 15 

antique furniture, 45-47, 101-109, 

178 passim. 209-209 
Argento, Dominick, 152 
Armstrong, Louis, 17 
Art Deco style, 51-56 
Artek, 77 
ASCAP (American Society of Composers 

and Publishers), 74 
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 

45, 151, 166 
Asian Art Society, 169 

Baker, George Pierce, 36 

Barati, George, 154, 155 

Barnett, Harry, 191 

Bayer, Herbert, 122 

Bechtle, Nancy, 150, 151 

BecVar, Art, 121 

Beethoven, Ludwig von, 33, 34, 39, 

76, 128, 165 
Bentz, Nathan, 192 
Blanch, Arnold, 55 
Blesch, Rudi, 84 
Blinder, Boris, 148, 154, 155 
Block, Leigh B. , 142 
Blomstedt, Herbert, 149 
Bodansky, Artur, 25 
Bodie, Ping, 15 
book publishing business, 140, 141, 

168, 169 

Bradley, 110, 111 
Brescia, Domenico, 25, 146 
Breuner's, Oakland, 75 
Brewer, Bill, 44 
Brundage, Avery, 167, 169 
Bufano, Beniamino, 57 
Bullock's store, Los Angeles, 135 
Butterfield's auctioneers, 192 

California School of Fine Arts, San 
Francisco, 14, 55-57, 68 



California Art Association, San 

Francisco, 76 
Catholic Church, 35, 37 
Chaliapin, Feodor Ivanovitch, 27 
Chase, Edna Woolman, 80 
Chicago Opera, 27 
Chicago Light Opera Co. , 79 
Chinatown, San Francisco, 9, 167, 

168 

Chittenden, Alice, 20 
Christian Science, 35 
Christiansen School of Music, San 

Francisco, 14 

Concordia Club, San Francisco, 19 
Corcoran, Stanley, 10, 49, 50, 52, 

59, 60, 124, 221 
Crowell, Collier and Macmillan. See 

Macmillan, Inc. 
Curtis, Kathleen, 5 

Davis, Ben, 51, 89, 90, 140 
Dayton-Hudson store, Detroit, 127, 

128, 135 

Deacon & Co., 46, 126 
decorator business, 203-205 
decorators, San Francisco, 214 
decorating magazines, 211, 212 
deGrassi, Antonio, 14 
Design Test, 116-121, 139, 200, 212, 

213 

deWaart, Edo , 149 
Dewees , Malcolm, 18 
de Young Museum, San Francisco, 69, 

131 

Dohrmann, Willie, 17 
Dohrmann's store, San Francisco, 133 
Doubleday & Co . , 140, 168, 169 

Eames, Charles, 77, 78 

Eldridge, Ollie, 61 

Elman, Mischa, 15 

Emporium store, San Francisco, 41 

Erpf , Armand G . , 47 

Faria, Paul, 103, 157, 158, 163, 

Interview. 197-226 
Fenton Piano Works, 156, 157 



272 



Fleishhacker, Mortimer, 17, 18 

Folger, Peter, 17, 59 

Forbes, Eleanor, 76, 89, 90-92, 101, 

102, 205, 207 
Fraser, Agnes Marie. See Agnes 

Gump. 

Friede, Donald, 47, 140 
Friede, Eleanor, 47 
Foujita, Tsugouharu, 52, 63, 68 
Fuller, Richard E. , 126, 131, 132 

General Electric Co., 116, 121, 122 

Gentry, Curt, 169 

Georgetown University, 176 

Gibbons, Cedric, 70 

Goldman, Robert, 19 

Good Taste Costs No More. 

101,116,140,141,168 
Goupil, Auge, 58,73 
Grace , Eugene , 39 
Graham, Clariece, 16, 112, 119, 168, 

Inter ivew. 197-226 
Graham, Lee Eleanor, 68 
Grant, Glen, 152 
Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band, 13, 

24, 26, 143, 148, 149, 157-168, 

223 
Gump, A. L. , 1-44 passim. 49, 65, 

69, 79, 80, 84, 96-101, 106, 107, 

116, 134, 169 
Gump, Agnes, 101, 113 
Gump, Alfred S., 4, 9, 10, 42-44, 

134, 135 

Gump, Camille, 135 
Gump, Frances Broberg Moore, 66-68 
Gump, Gustave, 26 
Gump, Hela Lindelof Lenza, 79, 80 
Gump, Mabel, 2-40 passim. 60, 78, 

108, 109, 167 
Gump, Marcella, 5, 7, 42 
Gump, Richard B. , accident, 4, 18- 
21, 26, 28, 33, 35 

alcohol, 82 

antiques. See antique furniture. 

apartments, houses, 67, 113, 115, 
116, 141, 142, 189 



Gump, Richard B. , architecture, 32, 

35, 38, 41, 70, 71 
artist, 14, 19, 20 
baseball, 6, 14, 15 
brother. See Robert Gump. 
composer, 14, 24-27, 33, 34, 73, 

74, 144-148, 151-156 
disc jockey, 164, 165 
family homes, 21-24, 32 
forebears, Austria, 166 
French language, 31 
friends, 19, 58, 59, 193 
golf, 14, 31 
and history, 35-38, 130 
Hollywood years, 70-76, 79 
Import Advisory Commission, 185 
"Jade, Jewels, and Junk," 110-112 
lecturer, 110-112, 140, 215 
marriage, Agnes, 101, 113, 
marriage, Frances, 66-68 
marriage, Hela, 79, 80 
merchandising beliefs, 217, 218 
notebooks, 189, 218, 219 
organist, 33 
parents. See A. L. and Mabel 

Gump, 
parents' divorce, 8, 11, 29, 30, 

38, 39 
performances of compositions, 14, 

144, 147, 151, 152, 154 
pianist, 13, 24, 25 
and psychiatry, 98, 99, 163 
recordings, 148, 163 
religion, 1, 2 
sister. See Marcella Gump. 
Stanford University, 18, 28, 

29,40 

travels, 1924, 35, 36 
travels, 1927-1928, 50, 59, 60 
travels, Mexico, 95-97 
travels, 1954, 101 
travels, 1960, 1964, 207, 209, 

210, 218-222 
travels, 1970, 189-191 
violinist, 5, 6, 14-16 
watercolorist, 56 



273 



Gump, Richard B., wives, 18, 21. 
See marriages. 

Also see Design Test, Gump's 
store, and Guckenheimer 
Sour Kraut Band 

Gump, Robert, 1-44 passim. 51, 68, 
69, 79, 94, 99, 100, 137 

Gump, Solomon, 1, 2, 4, 42 

Gump, William Edgar, 4, 84 

Gump's store, administrative 

policies, 224, 225 
advertising, 133, 136,137 
agents, 46, 60, 61, 125, 126 
Antiques, 101-109, 206-209 
Art Gallery, 52, 63-65, 68 
brochure (catalog), 137, 225, 226 
China and Glassware, 96,127 
competition, 214 
Design Studios, 207 
Discovery Shop, 84, 95-97 
fire, 1968, 207, 209 
furniture shop, 207-209 
Honolulu, 79-82 
Interior Design and European 

Antiques Department, 199 
passim 

Jade Room, 43,45,112,166 
location, San Francisco, 134-136 
logo, 122,123 
operations analysis, 88 
salespeople, 215, 216, 218 
Silver Department, 96, 97, 100, 

120 

staff meetings, 138 
Stationery Department, 123 
windows, 43, 44, 198 

Gump's Treasure Trade. 11, 21, 30, 
64, 69, 168 

Hagel, Ray, 47 
Hall, Joyce, 128, 129, 166 
Hallmark cards, 128, 129, 166 
Halsey sisters [Olga and Marion], 
176, 177 



Hardy, Merlin, 91 
Harold, Barney, 148, 157 
Harper-Robinson, brokers, 181 
Harris, Henry,' 24, 26 

Heil, Walter, 69, 131 

Hertz, Alfred, 146 

Heyman, Dr. , 27 

Hiatt, Richard, 161,162 

Hoffman, Larry, 26 

Hollywood, CA, 70-76. Also see MGM. 

Horst, W. Clemens, 59 

House and Garden. 121 

Howard, Sidney Coe , 42, 43, 79 

Howe, Thomas Carr, 69 

Humphries, George Rolfe, 16 

International Design Conference, 
Aspen, CO, 1952. 75, 117, 121, 
122 

Jack family, Monterey, 61, 62 
jade, 166, 187, 188 
Jade. Stone of Heaven. 168, 169 
Japanese relocation camps, 175, 176 
Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate 

Park, 168, 169 
Jews, San Francisco, 1, 2, 15, 19, 

94 

Kennedy, Joe, 43 
Kapstein, Jeanette, 193 
Kaspar, Robert, 192 
Kojima, Jayne, 178, 180 
Kojima, Ken, Interview 175-193 
Kojima, J. I., 175, 176 
Koshland, Corinne Schweitzer, 165 

Latham, Milton, 31, 32 

Leigh, W. Colston, 110 

Leitstein, Robert, 48 

Lenza, Hela Lindelof . See Hela 

Gump. 

Lichtenberg, Ray, 4 
Lichtenstein, Mabel Beatrice. See 

Mabel Gump. 



274 



Ltchtenstein, Milton. See Milton 

Latham . 
Lichtenstein, Benjamin Harris, 1-3, 

21, 23 
Lichtenstein, Frances Davis, 2, 13, 

14, 35 

Liebes, Dorothy, 84 
Liljestrom, Gustave, 43, 90 
Lincoln Cathedral, 35 
Little Theater, San Francisco, 6, 7 

Macky, Spencer, 55 

Macmillan, Inc., 47, 48, 65, 122, 

123, 127, 128, 138, 193 
Macy's store, San Francisco, 132, 

133, 136 

Magnin, Cyril, 29, 30, 132, 133 
March, E. T. , 192 

Marcus, Stanley, 112, 117, 120, 138 
Matsuishi, Haruko Hagiwara, 168 
Matthews, Edgar, 21 
McDonough, 192 
McGuire, Eleanor, 91, 92 
Mcllhenny, James, 48, 122, 123 
Meekin, Jack, 29 
Mendelsohn, Esther, 75 
Menuhin, Yehudi, 165 
Mexican market, 1944, 84-87, 95, 96 
MGM, drafting room, 56, 70, 71 
Molloy, Ernie, 29, 133 
Montgomery Block, San Francisco, 58 
Moore, Frances Broberg, 66-68 
Morris, Gouverneur, 19, 70 
musician's union, 133, 134, 148, 

158, 162, 163 

National Society of Interior 

Designers, 115 
Neiman-Marcus store. See Stanley 

Marcus . 

Neubauer, Tommy, 19 
Neutra, Richard, 75, 76, 117 
Newell, Ed, 9, 12, 61, 116, 166, 167 
Nicely, Roy, 16 
Noble, Johnny, 74 
Noguchi, Isamu, 92, 93 



Oldfield, Otis, 55, 56 

Oriental art, ceramics, 22, 45, 46, 

54, 106, 107, 166, 167, 18? 
Ossipoff, Vladimir, 122 

Pacific -Panama International 

Exposition, 30, 31 
Paepcke, Walter, 122 
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San 

Francisco, 69 
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 

68, 69 

Pasco, Arthur, 77 

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, WWII, 82, 83 
Pendergast family, 2 
Post, Emily, 45 
Potter School, San Francisco, 1, 8, 

15-19, 59 
Price, Vincent, 115 

Raymore & Co., 95, 114 
Reagan, Ronald, 128 
reproductions, furniture, 45-47, 

101-109, 186 passim. 
Retail Merchants Assn. , San 

Francisco, 132, 133 
retail trade union, 132, 133 
Retailing. Homes Furnishings. 77 , 

102, 112, 114, 115 
Rollins, Lloyd, 69 
Roos Brothers store, San Francisco, 

133 

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 125 
Rosenbaum, Charley, 19 
Rosenblatt, Martin, 46, 68, 69, 88, 

110, 111, 190 
Rosenblatt, Albert, 88 
Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design, 

74, 75, 204 
Rutkowski, Jeffrey, 154 

Salkind, Peggy, 25, 147, 148 

Samoan Islands, 71, 72 

San Francisco museums, 68, 69 

San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 

Hellman Hall, 147, 151 
San Francisco Opera, 26, 27, 149. 

150 



275 



San Francisco Symphony, 26, 27, 34, 
146, 149, 151, 154, 155, 162; 

Davies Symphony Hall, 149,150 

Richard Gump Chair, 34 

Board of Governors , 150 
San Rafael, CA, 1910-1912, 3, 4 
Sanderson, Will, 136 
Saratoga, CA, 23-26 
Schaeffer School of Design, 74, 75, 

204 

Schlesinger, B. F. , 41 
Schmidt-Kennedy, Alma, 24 
Schwartz, Sidney, 4 
Schwarz, Ed, 87-89 
Seattle Art Museum, 131, 132 
Sedowsky, Reah, 14,16 
Senturia, Michael, 154 
Sheldon, Bob, 124 
Sianta, Joan, 81, 133 
Smith, Sammy, 70 
Smith, Don, 44 
Stackpole, Peter, 17 
Stanford University, 18, 28, 29 
Stein, Sarah, 9, 62 
Steinberg, Michael, 150, 151, 153 
Steinway pianos, 156, 157 
Stern, Isaac, 5, 6, 165 
Swabacker, Goldina, 4 

T.A.P.P. & Co. , 90, 91 
Taylor, Archibald, 193 
Taylor, Harry 203 
Teague, Walter Dorwin, 117, 122 
Thorpe, Jim, 72, 73 
Tite, Arthur, 105, 106 
Travers, Reginald, 6 
Tufele family, 71, 72 

University of California, Berkeley, 
Chancellor's Office, 152 
Symphony, 151-153 

University of California, Davis, 
home economics department, 116, 
118 

Untermeyer, Louis, 16, 17 

U.S. Bureau of Customs, 178-184 



V. C. Morris, San Francisco, 77 

Waugh, Roddy, 105, 109 

Weber, Kern, 76, 121, 12-2 

Wedgwood, John, 113, 114 

Wedgwood, Hensleigh, 113, 114 

Westin, Lori, 34 

Wheeler, Joe, 22, 54 

Wheeler, Ed, 54 

White House store, San Francisco, 

128, 133, 135, 136 
White, Ian McKibbin, 142 
Wieniawski , Jules , 15 
Wilbur, Judy, 45, 46, 151, 169 
Wilbur, Brayton, 149-151 
Wildenhain, Marguerite, 91 
Wills, Ross, 140 
Wolf, Paul, 19 
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 75-77, 94, 121 

Yip, Richard, 56 



Suzanne Bassett Riess 

Grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 
Graduated from Goucher College, B.A. in 
English, 1957. 

Post-graduate work, University of London 
and the University of California, Berkeley, 
in English and history of art. 

Feature writing and assistant woman's page 
editor, Globe-Times . Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 
Free-lance writing and editing in Berkeley. 
Volunteer work on starting a new Berkeley 
newspaper . 
Natural science decent at the Oakland Museum. 

Editor in the Regional Oral History Office 
since I960, interviewing in the fields of 
art, cultural history, environmental design, 
photography, Berkeley and University history. 



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