SI Vault
Gerald Holland
May 20, 1957
A typical one has him cast as roaring executive, genial host, elephant trainer, doting family man
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May 20, 1957

Gussie Busch's Kind Of Day

A typical one has him cast as roaring executive, genial host, elephant trainer, doting family man

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St. Louis Classic

Time tugs at most of man's creations, molding and changing them, but the classic elegance of the horse show has a charmed existence. All the world over, its ingredients are the same—spinning wheels of flashing carriages, measured hoofbeats of perfect steeds, riders in costumes of traditional cut and hue. Queen Victoria, transported from 19th century Hyde Park to 20th century St. Louis, would scarcely feel a stranger. Here, in a snug hollow in Huntleigh Village, just outside the city, lies the Bridlespur Hunt Club, which annually plays host to a show that draws the best of horses and riders from all over the state for competition and attracts the most prominent members of St. Louis society as onlookers. In and out of the ring, Bridlespur is dominated by the family of August A. Busch Jr. (see cover), whose father founded the hunt 30 years ago. A classic in St. Louis, it is likewise a symbol now to horse lovers everywhere of the beginning outdoor season.

August A. Busch Jr., beer's super-salesman, sportsman and latter-day baseball buff, was up bright and early as usual and drove from Grant's Farm to the Anheuser-Busch brewery in South St. Louis. There, after a quick check of the sales figures around the country, he found himself confronted with a recently published list that included him among the 10 richest men in America. The list credited him with a personal fortune of $250 million.

Gussie Busch can yell louder than practically anybody. Most of the time he tries to keep his volume down. But now he let go.

"Wrong!" he roared, in a voice that could be heard up and down the length of Pestalozzi Street, "Wrong by about 250 million per cent!"

He does not (Gussie bellowed on) own the Anheuser-Busch brewery; he is its president, to be sure, but only a minority stockholder. He does not own historic Grant's Farm (which Ulysses once tilled with his own hands); it belongs to his mother. He does not (as the list went on to assert) own the St. Louis Cardinals; the team is the property of the brewery and its 18,000 stockholders, and he just happens to be the club president. The fact is, Gussie Busch declared as the windows rattled, he has "never personally possessed a fortune either by inheritance or otherwise."

Having had the normal reaction of a man who finds himself on a widely publicized "list of 10," Gussie felt better as he sat down at his great desk and devoted himself to the affairs of the complicated world of Budweiser. Executives came in and out, and the older ones greeted Gussie as Gus and the younger ones addressed him as Mr. Busch. At 58, Gussie looked almost as young as any of them. Tanned and trim, 164 pounds packed hard on a 5-foot 10-inch frame, he showed only a few gray hairs, and against the fact of life that he is several times a grandfather he could measure the current good news that he is an expectant father as well—for the fourth time since his marriage to his third wife, the former Gertrude Buholzer, in 1952.

Gussie attacked the desk work with zest, for that is Gussie's way. The old hands around the brewery say that you would have to go all the way back to the original Adolphus, his grandfather, to match him for high spirits and a talent for going directly to the heart of the matter, be the occasion a sales conference or a Schlachtfest out at Grant's Farm. Once Gussie opened a stockholders' meeting by shouting, "Sales are off and nobody's to blame but me!" At a baseball banquet last winter, he shouted, "Either the Cardinals win a pennant by 1958 or Frank Lane will be out on his rump!"

The desk work kept him busy until a little before one o'clock. Then Gussie Busch got up and strode out of his office and down the hall to the elevator. Waiting for it, he walked over and looked in on the company barbershop. The barber greeted him and asked how about the game of the night before in which the Cardinals had blown a five-run lead in the ninth and had to go 13 innings to beat Pittsburgh 6-5, on Stan Musial's homer. "I died," said Gussie.

The elevator doors slid open, and Gussie entered. At the sixth floor he stepped out into the executive dining room. Something besides luncheon is scheduled for almost every day, and so Gussie was not surprised to see Mayor Raymond Tucker of St. Louis on hand to receive, with Gussie, an award for the St. Louis float in the Tournament of Roses parade at Pasadena last New Year's Day. The float, a floral replica of an early fire engine, had been produced by Carlotta Busch Flanigan, Gussie's daughter by a previous marriage, and it had been drawn by an eight-horse hitch of the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.

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