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My Reading - August

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  • Bob von Bargen
    THE JUDGE 1973 My wife joined me to attend the Soap and Detergent Manufacturers Association (SDMA) meeting in
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 20, 2005
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      THE JUDGE 1973

      My wife joined me to attend the Soap and Detergent Manufacturers
      Association (SDMA) meeting in Washington, DC. We met my boss and his
      wife, Jim and Marylou Pacheco, at the hotel. It was a high activity
      meeting that went from early morning until late at night. Our company
      was promoting a newly developed dry chlorine bleach powder that had
      many applications in the detergent industry. Jim, as product manager,
      supervised a department that served the detergent and swimming pool
      industries with dry chlorine products. I was responsible for managing
      the chemical's detergent applications.

      Dry chlorine powders can be a dangerous product. Powder with high
      chlorine content can decompose and release toxic chlorine gas. The
      uniqueness of the company's new product, CLEARON , was its stability.
      It was exceptionally safe for use in household cleaners such as:
      dishwasher detergent, scouring powders, laundry detergents,
      sanitizers, etc. Swimming Pool applications of the chemical were the
      responsibility of another manager (Bert Talbot); he also reported to
      Jim. Swimming pool chemicals were the most difficult to manufacture
      and their stability was always a concern.

      It had been a long day. Jim and I attended the SDMA workshops during
      the morning and afternoon. Our wives joined us in the evening to
      entertain customers at a very nice Washington restaurant. Late that
      night, we gathered with a group of company employees in the lounge
      of our hotel. We sat around a large table and enjoyed a nightcap.

      Ours was a jovial gathering with jokes and laughter emanating from
      our long banquet style table in the darkened room. I noticed a man
      sitting alone at a small table near us. He looked as if he was
      bearing the world's burdens. He stared at our group, a mask of gloom
      upon his face. I smiled at him and motioned for him to join us.

      He pulled up a chair and I engaged him in conversation. He told me
      that he had been subpoenaed to Washington, and would be testifying
      before congress on the following morning. He said he worked for Suma
      Corporation and was Howard Hughes's personal pilot. The Watergate
      Committee was investigating the relationship between Suma Corporation
      and the Nixon Administration. He offered that if he told the truth at
      the hearings he would be crushed by Howard Hughes … if he lied, the
      Feds would throw him in jail.

      I listened intently as he explained his dilemma, wondering whether I
      should believe him. Glancing down our long table I could see my boss,
      Jim Pacheco. He was sitting under a recessed ceiling floodlight that
      cast a glow on his silver white hair. He appeared to be suffering
      from indigestion, his hand was tucked inside his suit jacket and a
      grimace dominated his face. A devilish scheme came to my mind!

      This man had no idea who we were, and I was suspected that he was
      putting me on. I asked him to look down the table to where Jim sat. I
      told him that he was indeed fortunate to have come upon "Judge
      Pacheco". I related that the Judge was renowned within the State of
      New Jersey for his scholarly decisions, and that it would be in his
      best interest to introduce himself to the Judge and seek his
      guidance. The glow from Jim's white hair, coupled with his physical
      countenance presented an aura that validated my description of
      the "Brilliant Judge".

      He thanked me and walked over to Jim. Soon the two were in serious
      conversation. They talked for almost 30 minutes. Then the pilot stood
      up, came down the table to me, and thanked me profusely for helping
      him. As he was leaving, he turned back to me and said: "The Judge is
      truly a learned man!"

      I went over to Jim and asked him what had occurred. Jim smiled and
      said: "I just told him: Speak the truth, and the truth will set you

      We then went to our rooms. The second day at the conference was much
      like the first day. We got back to the hotel late and prepared for
      sessions on the final day of the meeting.

      At about 2 AM the phone rang in my hotel room. It was Jim. There had
      been a rapid decomposition at the plant; we had to return to our New
      York office to handle the disaster. A Chlorine gas cloud had escaped
      from the plant and had narrowly missed a residential area. The event
      could have been a scene from World War I, as the gas cloud drifted
      along the Kanawha River before dissipating near South Charleston in
      West Virginia. Mary Lou and Ellen would have to check out of the
      hotel and drive home together. We had to leave immediately.

      As Jim drove north on the I-95, we listened on his car radio to
      determine if the chlorine release had made the national news. There
      was a driving rain; it was difficult to see the road. A network
      newscast reported that the Watergate Hearings had resumed and a key
      witness had been a corporate pilot from the Suma Corporation. He was
      singing like a canary on truth serum; he told the committee
      everything he knew! The Nixon Administration was in full defense mode.

      "Judge" Pacheco looked at me in disbelief as the huge raindrops
      thundered down on the car. … He stammered: "That guy was for

      Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
      John 8: 32
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