The Barrister Fall 2017 - 6

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Having survived Korea, perhaps
because North Korea heard of the Army's
basketball prowess and thinking that it
was the better part of valor to continue
the armistice rather than start a shooting
war, my father was able to return home by
way of Japan and Okinawa. For reasons
that are obscure to me, he enrolled at
Georgetown Law School. The source of
my bemusement will become obvious.
He and my mother were also married
at this time and led a poor student's
existence in Washington. Employment
as cafeteria workers, proofreaders for
the National Rifle Association, and the
like helped supplement a meager GI bill
income.
While in Washington, my mother
began to suffer from some indigestion and
stomach trouble and was fearful that she
had an ulcer. That ulcer actually turned out
to be me. I expect that it was not the only
time that I was the cause of some upset to
my parents.
My father successfully navigated
the difficult course requirements of
Georgetown and sat for the Pennsylvania
Bar examination. While attending the
Cram Course, as it was then invariably
called, my father met our own Judge
Albert Stallone with whom he was to later
become better acquainted in practice and
to appear before in Berks County.
After successfully passing the Bar,
my father undertook serving the thenmandatory term under his preceptor in
Allentown. His preceptor was an attorney
of high standing who took my father
under his wing and taught him much
about the practice of law. In those days
it was required that young lawyers hang
around the courthouse and undertake
criminal appointments when needed. My
father befriended another young lawyer
who went on to become a figure of note,
the Honorable Edward Cahn. He and
my father went to the President Judge of
Lehigh County and convinced him that
it would be more efficient if the two of
them would work together on criminal
appointments.
Accordingly, thereafter, whenever they
served in this capacity, they were appointed
as co-counsel in a case. Unfortunately,
the system then in place did not provide
the same opportunity for preparation as
these days. Back then, you were expected
to appear in the Criminal Court and you
were appointed to cases as they were called
for trial. My father and Judge Cahn were
6 | Berks Barrister

appointed together and would have to
figure out the case as they went. They were
assigned a case and immediately sent to a
courtroom for jury selection.
One of them would participate in
the jury selection process while the other
interviewed the defendant and tried to
figure out what was going on in the case.
With that interview complete, the second
lawyer would then undertake to provide an
opening statement while the first lawyer
interviewed the witnesses. The first lawyer
would then examine such witnesses as
he had been able to interview while the
second lawyer then ..., well, you get the
idea. It was a simpler time in the practice
of criminal law and thinking on your feet
was required.
During this time frame, my father's
preceptor found himself in the enviable
position of having too much work to
handle, including, particularly, a couple of
clients in Reading. Rather than try and
service these clients out of Allentown, the
preceptor generously asked my father to
open an office in Reading and take over
representation for these clients. My father
did so and, immediately before I started
kindergarten, we moved to Reading.
My father set up shop at 214 North
Sixth Street, which was then a street full of
lawyers. Solo practitioners, small firms, title
insurance companies and accountants were
all located on this street.
Dad enjoyed ten years of solo practice
on North Sixth Street. Back then
you were also expected to serve as an
assistant district attorney which was a
true part-time position. That led to some
involvement in politics, including several

notable campaigns for district attorney
where the Honorable Richard Eshelman
and Charles Guthrie led the Republican
tickets.
In 1970, my father was presented with
the opportunity to join Bingaman, Hess,
Coblentz & Bell and did so.
In 1978, he served as President of the
Bar Association (then the youngest to
serve in such office) and was active in the
Pennsylvania Bar for many years. A couple
of notable things stand out from those
years.
My father did not drink but was a
member of a poker group where it seems
everyone else did. Many people (who have
been deservedly portrayed as Legends
of the Bar) including Manny Dimitriou,
Clint Najarian, Roderick Snyder, Ed
Kershner, Charlie Derr, Dave Kozloff,
Bill Bernhart, John Boccabella, Jack
Mancuso, and probably others whom I
have forgotten, would regularly attend
the poker games. The game was a floating
game going from house to house and it
was always a treat when this crew would
descend upon our house. The house would
smell of cigar smoke, beer and whiskey for
days.
My father maintained that he had
a distinct advantage because he did
not drink alcohol. He claimed, with no
substantiating evidence, that he would
place $200 in a cigar box at the beginning
of the poker season and play with it
throughout the year and the profits
realized from poker always paid for our
Christmas presents.
Another memory of those days is
the famous election bets. It was the
Republicans against the Democrats. My
father and John Bradley, Sr. represented
the Republican contingent while John
Hoffert and Manny Dimitriou represented
the Democrats. Local elections may
have been a little more heated then; they
certainly stirred more interest. It was
especially interesting for these four because
the losers were obligated to buy dinner for
the winners. As you would expect, every
year the stakes went up. One memorable
evening the winners were picked up
at their offices by a limousine, with
champagne already on ice, and transported
to the Oley Valley Inn, then a restaurant
of high repute. They enjoyed a sumptuous
dinner and probably adjourned to several
other establishments before finishing at
the West Reading Diner for breakfast. My
father being the non-drinker was then


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The Barrister Fall 2017

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