Double M: The Parkhursts [Double M Series Book 3]
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by Sherry Derr-Wille
Category: Historical Fiction/Romance
Description: The Depression brings a new venture into the family of the Double M. When Suzanna buys K-Chemical, she becomes a businesswoman. The purchase is for her son, Jeff, as she desperately wants to keep in on the Double M and not lose him to the larger cities of the East in the way her mother lost Mallon. World War II brings the loss of life to the families in and around Corbit. As the shock wears off, Suzanna, now a widow and Ralph, who has been widowed for several years, find love and happiness in each other's arms. As Suzanna's life draws to a close, she looks back on the things she has accomplished. She has lived through two world wars, the great depression, Korea and Vietnam. Her ranch business interests have prospered. Now her grandson, JP, is ready to take on the challenges of running the Double M.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: June 2007
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [332 KB]
Reading time: 219-307 min.
"If you enjoy Barbara Taylor Bradford's sweeping family epics, but are a little short on time, this might be considered the 'light' version of one of those."--Amanda Killgore
"As you read this amazing story you will be pulled into it as I was. There are so many characters that I couldn't begin to name them all. As the century moves along a lot of things happen that will have you crying, cheering and urging these wonderful people on."--Terri, Romance Junkies
Depression! It spread from coast to coast like a prairie fire in August when there had been no rain. To say Corbit, Montana remained untouched by it would be a lie. Like many other communities across the country, small ranchers were being forced to sell their property for pennies on the dollar.
Although they were doing well, those who lived on the Double M Ranch felt the impact of depression. Thanks to the ranch manager, Ralph Jennings, they were in fairly good shape. Perhaps they couldn't pay the top wages they had in the past, but they had work for those who wanted it.
Ralph, like his father, put little faith in banks and kept only the working capital for the ranch and enough personal finances for both himself and the Parkhursts for a one month period in them. The rest of their money was kept in the vault his father built in the basement of his home.
As properties surrounding the Double M became available, Ralph advised Clay Parkhurst to buy them. By 1934, the Double M had tripled in size. As for Ralph, he limited the investments he made to ranches closer to town.
Ralph, like Clay, now had considerable holdings, although he was quiet about what he purchased. From all outward appearances, he wasn't investing as heavily as he advised his employers to do. For that reason, he was surprised when Alf Kline, owner of K-Chemical, Corbit's largest manufacturing plant, called to arrange a meeting. It had been set for noon, and now Ralph waited anxiously for Alf to arrive.
As he leaned back in his desk chair, he could hear his wife, Barbara, preparing lunch in the kitchen. He glanced at the clock. It read eleven forty-five. Clay and Suzanna as well as Alf would be here any minute.
Lunch was friendly and had no tones of the business meeting to follow. Ralph noticed that he, like Clay, seemed edgy about the coming meeting, while Suzanna and Barbara engaged the older gentleman in spirited conversation.
After lunch, they took their coffee into the living room. "As you know," Alf began, "I lost both my sons in the war. Now I'm an old man, who has nothing but a business. Granted, it is a good business, but it isn't family. My wife died thirty years ago and we had no other children, so there's no one left to inherit what I built. Recently, the doctor told me I only have a few months to live. I have cancer and it's too advanced for him to do anything to help me."
Barbara and Suzanna both gasped, holding their hands to their mouths in horror.
"Don't be upset, ladies. I'm not in much pain. What hurts is there is no one to take over K-Chemical. That's where you come in. I've been watching the four of you.
"When this depression hit, most people were wiped out, but you're like me, you're survivors. Somehow, you've prospered, even grown. From what I hear, this ranch is three times its original size, and you, Ralph, have considerable holdings of your own."
Ralph could hardly believe that Alf knew what was going on in his life. He thought he had kept his personal holdings a well-guarded secret.
"Don't look so shocked, young man. I ask questions. I've done it for a reason. I've come here today to sell K-Chemical to the four of you. I know you folks would run it, love it and make it prosper, as I have since the day I first conceived the idea. This depression won't last forever."
"Look, Alf," Clay said, "we're honored you think of us this way, but I know I speak for Ralph when I say we know nothing about the chemical business. We're ranchers, plain and simple."
"I agree with Clay," Ralph added. "I can balance the ranch books and keep our heads above water, but in an office, I'd be lost. I couldn't just get up when I got bored and ride out with the men."
"I wouldn't be bored," Suzanna said, surprising them, "and neither would Jeff. He's only got two more months before he graduates from college. He's majoring in business and we all know he will never be happy at the ranch. He's too much like Mallon. I lost my brother; I don't intend to lose my son. How much are you asking, Alf?"
"Not much, really, since there's no one to leave it to. I want ten thousand dollars. I have a few debts as well as the medical bills I might incur before my death. I also want to remain as head of the company for as long as I live. If, at the time of my death, there are any remaining unpaid bills, I expect them to be taken care of."
Ralph watched as Suzanna looked at Clay.
"Don't look at me, honey. Ralph knows what we can and can't afford better than I do."
Ralph could only smile. He knew very well Suzanna could afford anything she wanted, even K-Chemical. It would virtually drain her personal monies, but when the depression ended, K-Chemical would bring in enough profit to cover her investment a hundred times over. "If you want it, Suzanna, yes, you can afford it, but remember, this is for you and Jeff. I'll help you with the books, but from there on, you're on your own. Clay and I know nothing about this kind of thing."
Suzanna smiled and extended her hand to Alf. "Well, Alf, it looks like you just sold your company. How soon can I start working for you?"
"I'll have my lawyers draw up the papers on Monday and we can sign them Tuesday. You won't regret this, Suzanna. I know you won't."
When Alf left, Clay turned to Ralph. "With all the buying we've been doing lately, how can we possibly have ten thousand dollars in cash?"
"You don't," Ralph explained, "but Suzanna does. By law, on his taxes, Steve was able to give Suzanna a thousand dollars a year in gifts, tax-free. He could also give a thousand to you and the kids each year. So that's exactly what he did. I never told you. He anticipated what Mallon would do with his inheritance and so when he demanded five thousand dollars, you had it to give him. Honestly, we thought he would ask for a lot more. Suzanna's money has been left pretty much untouched. Granted, it could have earned some interest in the stock market or the bank, but I'm glad I kept it here for her. At least with this investment, it can grow and make her even a wealthier woman than she already is."
Suzanna laughed. "Dear Pa, you knew what you were doing all along. How could I have doubted you?"