Iron History

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08/15/2003 Entry: "Aug 22, 2004 by Joe Roark"

Letter from Charles A. Smith Feb 11, 1986 to Joe Roark (note: A man had written a letter to me making several claims about his relationship with Charles, so I checked some statements in that letter against Charles' memory, and this reply arrived in the mail. Charles was a very proud person and some of the claims made against him riled him severely. Though there is not much iron history in this particular letter, it does establish some relationships, and is therefore part of the larger mosaic.)

Thanks for your letter mailed Feb 8th which was waiting for me on my arrival home from the Collection. Thanks too for the enclosures.

I'd also like to thank you for showing your trust in me by sending that other material. Needless to say, and I'll be needless to say it---it is a load of SHIT. But it hardly deserves a reply though it NEEDS one just to set the matter straight.

Before I go any further, Sig Klein is VERY ill and it is in all likelihood terminal. He had an operation to remove a cancerous growth on his lower intestine. I believe I mentioned this in my last letter to you. [Terry] Todd had also been told this by Milo [Steinborn] when he saw him a week or so ago. What a great pity. Sig was so good to me when I first met him in 1942 that I was quite overwhelmed by his kindness. At the time I had been through a great deal and had lost some of my good friends on board [ship]. But he did all he could for me-a stranger although he had heard of me-to make things pleasant and enjoyable for me and to help me forget. [Klein died May 24, 1987]

Now for that other piece of stuff you enclosed. Garbage in every aspect. The individual wrote to me Xmas. Praising my article in IM, saying, it was the most important article IM had ever published and a work of 'Genius'. As courtesy dictates I replied-although I had had absolutely NO CONTACT with him since 1958, October. He replied to my reply and as courtesy dictates etc etc. His name given (sic) has been changed from some Mitel European cognomen and it is not the Irish, Soots lineage one is lead to believe. But for the meat of the matter.

He is the type of man who can's ask for information LIKE a man but has to scratch for it like a dog. True, I was out of work at the time HE PHONED ME from Austin-where he had moved from the Bronx, NYC- and of which I was unaware. HE asked me to come down to Austin, saying he had heard I had quit Weider. He said, "I'LL PAY YOUR PLANE FARE WHEN YOU GET DOWN HERE." I DIDN'T TRAVEL BY AMERICAN. It was by NATIONAL AIRLINES and I paid my own way down.

He DIDN'T drive me around Austin as he claims. He had a member of the club named George Coyle drive me around.

I HADN'T BEEN OUT OF WORK FOR A YEAR, I WAS seeking employment. I had been away from Weider for a year BUT working for other people whom I wished to leave. MY wife was very ill and I had mentioned to others that I thought a warmer climate would, or might, help. This is the real reason I came to Austin-it could well have been Ocala, Florida, if someone had called me from there. But HE CALLED ME as I have related.

We had a very nice apartment in the Bronx with both my children established in at schools only a few hundred yards from where we lived. Good schools. I was then, never had and never will seek unemployment insurance. This take of my having objections to mixing with those of Hispanic extraction, this too is sheer bullshit. I have traveled all over the world and can tell you more quickly where I haven't been than where I have. I have mixed with most of the world's nationalities and moving to a place like Texas and mingling with so called Hispanics would have no problems for me. I have NEVER held a man's place of birth or the color of his skin against him, feeling that he had no more control over it than I did.

HE DID NOT PAY MY AIRFARE. I paid my own way as I always have done. He did NOT pick me up at the airport. His wife did.

He DID offer me a job at a hundred bucks a week, which I accepted. But I found out that I was also expected to not only help around the club but write his ads and his publicity- AND instruct AND help clean up the place from nine thirty AM to TEN PM DAILY. Including Saturdays and Sundays. Apart from, it is only fair to say, an occasional Sat or Sun off.

Incidentally, the 'Airport' at the time was a Nissan hut and the population of Austin was 130 thousand. It is now close to half a million.

He hosted me in his home. True. His wife cooked for me. True. BUT I PAID RENT AND BOARD TO MRS. When I stayed there.

I HAVE LEFT AUSTIN SINCE. On several trips to Mexico and to the UK in 1972, 73 and 74 to set up exchange programs between the Juvenile Court and Police departments here and with those in England.

HE DID NOT OBTAIN A RESISDENCE FOR ME. I asked him the names of some real estate agents and he gave me one -GENE NAUMANN- a MEMBER OF THE CLUB and the man who sold me my present home and with whom I am still friends- a multi millionaire now.

He says he obtained a dog for me. He didn't. Vera had talked to me over the phone- she was only eight then, and asked me to get her a dog with 'Sad eyes.' I asked the person where I could get one. HE TOLD me where and that was the extent of it. I went to the local pound on my own got a dog for Vera and PAID FOR IT.

He says he got me a car. He's a bloody liar. I asked George Coyle, the man HE got to drive me around where a good car dealer was, he George, took me there and I bought one with my own money.

He says I moved wife, furniture and kids at HIS EXPENSE from NYC to Austin. He's a damned liar. My brother in law Fred, Harriet's brother helped with that and I PAID HIM FOR IT.

It is TRUE that once there and ensconced in the club, and before Harriet and the kids joined me HE DID offer to pay my ONE WAY TICKET in the amount of 175 dollars but I refused, preferring to, as usual, PAY MY OWN WAY. So this man is more full of shit than a Christmas Goose. In other words he is a BLOODY LIAR.

It might be quite amusing to ask why HE left Austin and a profitable business and returned to New York. I can tell you why, but it would be a source of amusement to me to hear HIM tell why. When you get down here I can show you where he lived, the gym he ONCE OWNED and introduce you to people such as a masseur who worked for him, to substantiate what I have. Anyway, put down this incident as another question to ask about on your arrival here.

Further, and to establish MY bona fides- I was employed by a law enforcement department here for twenty years. Some of the members of this department knew your letter writer VERY WELL. On my application to them for a job, I was most thoroughly screened. They told me things about my self and family I didn't even know. So they would not have given me the job they did unless I had a clean bill of health, finances and integrity.

So ask all the questions you want to ask. I am pretty pissed off at what this person wrote. I have never sponged off of anyone in my life, always paid for my own way and always returned pat for pat and scratch for scratch Who this person in Illinois was who informed him I was in need of a job- I was- I don't know. He, the person who wrote you is fishing for info and may have heard you and I have contact. This is his style, his MO as we say.

As for moving expenses from the Bronx to Austin. I paid for them personally and can even remember the name of the firm who moved us- SANTINI from the Bronx. The cost was a little over 500 dollars- a sum that by now would cost four or five times what it did then. The job I took with this person was, so far as I am concerned, a stop gap, and I left as soon as I landed the law enforcement job. That I was employed there and enjoyed the confidence of several prominent people in Austin- one of them Jake Jacobsen, President Johnson's executive counsel and who was instrumental in getting me the law enforcement job- speaks for itself. Jake kept in touch with me during the time he was in the White House and after he came back to Austin. He is a prominent- or was- attorney here.

But you form your own opinions.

I shall of course respect your confidence and will not let the party who wrote you know we are in contact. Unless of course I have your permission. But more about this when you arrive. You can talk to Terry [Todd] who also knew this person. And to Carl Pavik, the masseur.

He did little or nothing for me insofar as bringing me to Austin and getting me settled in. I DID IT ALL FOR MYSELF. I can also tell you about my brief stay in Alliance [Nebraska]. There have been some tall tales floating around about that incident. Are there any more that you can tell me about that you have heard? I suggest you write to Leo Gaudreau or Sig Klein, John Dawe, or even the York Bunch as to what I am like as a person.

I did hear some tales about Hoffman and Chester. What I heard about Chester's encounter with the Boob was as follows, and I don't know if it is or isn't true. It seems that Chester and Bobbie Boy met up somewhere and Chester, who has quite a way with words asked Hoffman, "Hoffman, did you ever see a liar?" and when Hoffman replied he hadn't, replied, 'Well, look in a mirror," wherat Hoffman presented him with a fistful of fingers. How true this is I don't know. But it IS true that he whipped up on Mark Berry, a man a hundred pounds lighter than Hoffman and several inches shorter. And this was merely because Berry had been chosen to be Olympic Coach over Hoffman for the 1936 Olympics. Hoffman later bragged about it in the S&H mag in a late 1936 issue which you can see for yourself on arrival here. Hoffman also tried on three occasions to pick a fight with me, but I showed him I wasn't afraid of him and at one time when we were standing outside a hotel in Indianapolis, made out as if I was going to butt him in the face with my head when he kept pushing me in the chest.

There were two men that he never messed with. One was Schemansky and the other Davis, and Ski would have whipped Hoffman's arse to a fare-thee-well and repeated the dose forever and a day. Davis, likewise, would have trounced him all around the town. Schemansky looked what he was, an extremely gritty person. But Davis was deceptive in his gentle demeanor and way of acting and speech.

Hoffman DID use an aluminum barbell to demonstrate how 'strong' he was in the bent press. Purporting to be bent pressing 265 when the bell scales only 205 is a very very big difference and not - 205 that is- beyond Hoffman's range of action. So, did I lie and if I'm lying I'm dying.

I have always said- and Terry has ALWAYS denied- that Hoffman has a son. Hise told me so and called the kid 'Freddy NussXXX' for some reason. One thought occurs to me. Could it have been a child by a previous marriage of XXX. Have also heard tales about XXX trying to get into Jowett's pants, but don't believe this. Just doesn't seem like Jowett as I knew him.

I would suggest- but not URGE- that you approach XXX on this subject since he is now in the mood to tell more. Terry Todd had also heard of the forthcoming exit of S&H but didn't say anything to me until I told him, without mentioning the source.

Who is Lewis Dymeck? Pray tell. [inventor of the EZ Curl bar]

I thought your latest [MuscleSearch] effort very good. Don't tell me you can't write. You can and quite well, and I see those publications of yours not only an 'Open Sesame' to others but to various publications, which methinks are thinning out what with S&H going and the possible demise of IM [Ironman].

Best of everything to you and yours. Am I pissed off at you know who.