?Leader of a vigorous fight, with the blessing of Wisconsin Governor Warren Knowles, for an $8 million sports arena in Milwaukee which, he believes, will bring a franchise in the National Hockey League. For starters, he pledged the first $1 million and recently jumped that to $2 million. (His fight for the arena has led him into a conflict with Robert E. Dineen, chairman of the board of Northwestern Mutual Life, who is pushing for an exhibition hall. "I look at Pavalon the way a surgeon views an appendix," says Dineen. "Strictly impersonal. He says he has all this backing, but in the end the mayor says the city is broke, the county is broke and the governor has put the state on an austerity program. Now, with all this, if the politicians want to throw away $15 million or $18 million on something we don't need, then to hell with it.")
?A noon-to-5-a.m., seven-day-a-week worker who can't understand anyone who isn't. He lives on pizza and low-calorie colas; was just named by the U.S. Jaycees as one of the nation's top 10 young men; is an avid fisherman, duck hunter and art collector, and within the last few weeks has become firmly hooked on yachting.
One Sunday recently Pavalon was riding in his limousine, a 1968 dark green Cadillac just one block shorter than Broadway, along a twisting narrow road in central Wisconsin a few miles from a 200-acre deer preserve and farm he bought last June. His public-relations people say that he bought the limousine after deciding he was wasting time driving when he could be in the back thinking. He listens to that version, then grins. "I got the car and chauffeur because the state was getting ready to grab my driver's license," he says. "Too many speeding tickets. But I didn't wait until they came for it; I mailed it in."
As he talked, Pavalon maintained close note of the limousine's progress. Every two or three minutes he would lower the window between himself and the driver, bark out an instruction, then raise the window. He is a domineering backseat driver, "Joe's a terrible chauffeur," sighed Pavalon, moodily staring at the back of his driver's head. "Always falling asleep at the wheel, always taking a wrong turn, always getting lost."
"Why do you keep him?" asked a puzzled passenger.
"Because I keep hoping that maybe someday he'll become a good chauffeur," said Pavalon, frowning. "If not, he's still a loyal guy and I'll find another place in the company for him. Too many people are ready to write someone else off too soon. Some people just need more time. I hate to see the little people get kicked around."
Wes Pavalon once was one of the little people himself. His divorced mother ran a tavern on the North Side of Chicago, where he was born. Home was an untidy, cheerless tenement flat over an ice-cream parlor, The Razzle Dazzle. From age 7 he went there only when there was no other place to go.
"Home for me was just kind of a place I got to by accident," said Pavalon. "It wasn't really a place that was there. It was—I guess—just an address to give somebody. But I never felt like I belonged home, and I'd delay as late as possible calling an end to the day. I'd get a friend of mine and we'd walk all the way from the north side of the city to downtown, and we'd go to the Clark Theater. It was open 24 hours a day. They had a motto, 'Hark, hark to the Clark.' You ran into all kinds of odd people there. You'd sit and talk to these people and find out what it was that made them tick."
Pavalon leaned forward in the big limousine, pulled down the jump seat and used it as a footrest. Then he settled back and stared at the passing countryside. He is a big man (6'3", 210 pounds), with thick black hair and a neatly trimmed beard. His upper lip is clean. He grew the beard on a duck-hunting trip, almost shaved it off, then decided he liked it. He had worried that his stockholders in Career Academy might not like the beard. "But," he declared, "if they only bought stock because of my clean-shaven cheeks, then they had better sell." His face is long, wide and strong, dominated by a rather large nose slightly bent and a pair of dark brown eyes that are very warm or very cold, depending upon his mood. Usually the eyes are warm, for he smiles a lot. But not always. "He is," says an old friend, "one tough, crazy SOB."
The limousine came to a fork in the road. The two lanes swept left; the way to the right was a single, rutted dirt track. Joe touched the brake. The window went down. "For Pete's sake," Pavalon shouted, "follow the main road." Then his voice gentled. "That's good, Joe. That's good. Joe, did you go to bed early last night like I told you?" Joe nodded. "You sure?" Joe nodded again. Pavalon grunted, settled back. He put his feet on the jump seat and stared at them.