A Prince Among Men: Oliver S. Picher

The following story is taken from Bud Belden’s memoir “Pioneering Days.” His father, Charles Belden, founded Belden Electric Company and wired many Joplin homes for electricity.

“When engaged in wiring the residence of O.S. Picher the boys discovered a case of Scotch Whiskey. Being alone in the house they placed a bottle on the kitchen table where all could wet their whistle as they passed by. Unexpectedly Mr. Picher returned about 4 P.M. and immediately work centered in the basement and in the attic. But when any of the malcreants did appear, Mr. Picher no doubt noticed their unusually bright and shining eyes as they peered at him from dirty faces. Being an observant man, Mr. Picher noticed this condition was general among all members of the crew.

Then his suspicions were confirmed for some of the boys started talking and removed all doubt. As the boys were preparing to get away hastily, Mr. Picher must have had an idea, for he stopped them and said, “You fellows look tired, you’ve been working hard all day. How about taking a little drink with me before you go?”

Now there was a regular fellow. Sure, the day was finished, they would be glad to. O.S. then assembled them not in the kitchen but in the dining room and served them in manner grand. Iced ginger ale in tall gold rimmed glasses with White Horse Scotch Whiskey. They were a sorry lot weaving around in dirty overalls but they sang the praises of Mr. Picher loud and long.

He was to them a Prince among men and so remained until one day Dad received his check for the work done. From the bill [Picher] had deducted fifty dollars with the notation in large letters, For WHITE HORSE.”


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