In 1964 I was fired by the Stewall Corporation because of difference in opinion of the founding board members and our interior designer concerning how nursing homes planned under my supervision should be furnished.
The founders, Wallace E. Johnson and Stewart Bainum, national titans in the hotel and apartment industries, wanted the nursing homes to have a very traditional, ‘homey’ feeling to them. They wanted wall-to-wall carpeting throughout.
I had acceded to the more contemporary design of Dan and Ann Green, a start up interior design firm from the Washington, D. C. area. They used vinyl tiles throughout for ease of cleaning and sanitary purposes. Their furnishings were comfortable but on the contemporary side, not early American.
Although a bruise to pride, the discharge wasn’t a financial hardship since by then large profits from various land acquisitions, re-zoning, and sale to builders had made it possible for me to commence developing apartment complexes with partners.
Moreover, Mr. Johnson offered me a position with Holiday Inns of America which he co-founded with Kemmons Wilson at almost twice my already generous pay.
Nevertheless I have long felt a bit ashamed at my headstrong stance concerning vinyl versus carpet and contemporary versus traditional furnishings. So last week while touring a recently opened nursing home in the Harrisburg area with son Benjamin and an associate, I was delighted with what I learned from the director who appeared to be in her middle fifties.
When I commented on the vinyl flooring throughout the corridors and mentioned the firing, she said vinyl was standard practice these days for cleanliness and sanitation. She went on to say that decades ago, while she was working for the national Manor Care nursing home firm, the chain had to tear out all of the carpeting in their hallways to replace it with vinyl fooring.
The small start up for which I had been COO had been merged with other holdings of Stewart Bainum and his brother Bob Bainum to become Manor Care!
My relationship with Stewart and Mr. Johnson (which was how I addressed them) remained cordial and I hold their memories in the highest regards, both very able and charitable individuals. It was an privilege to work for and with them.