Corrupt U.S. Government officials leased the Teapot Dome oil field
to one Harry F. Sinclair in 1922 in a sleazy no-bid contract.
Turn back the clock. 27 years earlier, suspected grifter Gilmer Bonfils
had seized control of the Denver Post; he and his family turned it from a sleepy, staid paper into a
wild, brazen broadsheet
. So brazen they were shot by a furious lawyer. For an editorial page
, Tammen and Bonfils substituted invective, raked up so much scandal—a good deal of it true — that they kept a loaded shotgun in their office to discourage reader complaints. As the Post grew in power and prosperity, its proprietors branched into other fields; the Post became the first and last U.S. daily ever to own a circus (Sells-Floto), run a burlesque house and sell coal."
It was this paper that, through the machinations of Sinclair's enemies
, began excoriating the Teapot Dome deal under the editorial byline "So That The People May Know". Eventually, Frederick G. Bonfils rumoredly took a million dollar payoff from Sinclair
as hush money.
Fast forward. The Post hired professionals and lost its edge. But then, in 1960, into Denver's mile-high sunshine stepped the fastest-growing newspaper publisher in the U.S. In one hand he carried a battered 13-year-old briefcase bulging with the blueprints of a big deal.
But Si Newhouse Sr., who was rich enough to buy Conde Nast as a surprise anniversary present for his wife the year previously, for all his business acumen and deal-making wiles, didn't expect to run into Helen Bonfils
Helen, one of the daughters entrusted with the Post, reacted to Newhouse's hostile purchases by declaring "No further sales are contemplated. Not under any circumstances."
And for many rollicking years
, the fight continued. Eventually, outmaneuvered legally, Newhouse gave up. But the story doesn't end there.
A tall, slender, blonde with bright blue eyes and a husky voice, Helen was theatrical, energetic and a millionaire. Bejeweled and befurred, she toured the town in her Pierce Arrow with Colorado license plate No. 1. She would be accompanied by her chauffeur (more on this in a moment...), favorite poodle, and spiritual adviser, the Rev. John Anderson, who shared her interest in philanthropy.
And when the Rocky Mountain News says 'theatrical', they mean it; she in her youth starred in extravagant musicals with casts of hundreds, always as the principal angel.
Her hunger for the spotlight grew over the years
as she acted in and produced a score of productions, and created the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex
at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She also found the time to create the Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Bank
, named after her mother -- now a fixture of the Denver healthcare system; and, having seen people faint in its stuffy basement for lack of air conditioning, to fund the completion of the Holy Ghost church
-- as well as 'innumerable' other charities, including the Dumb Friends League and the Denver Zoo
But does the story end there? No it does not. Helen, at age 69, fell in love with her chauffeur -- "Tiger" Mike Davis, a strapping young college dropout of 28.
Their romance died, and a nasty divorce ensued, in which he received a large settlement. Rolling that money into oil field investments, "Tiger" Davis got rich.
In May 2008, none other than the Denver Post reported that he had gotten paid off for helping to move control of oil interests -- unlike Teapot Dome, this time legally -- by introducing an old friend, an ex-amateur boxer
named "Rifle Right" Kirk Kerkorian to Delta Petroleum. Turns out having friends earned him a cool 263,158 shares, which if he still holds it is as of this writing.
But that's not the story either, dear reader -- the story is that "Tiger" Mike Davis, in between marrying the scrappiest, most extravagant and most powerful women in Denver and helping to broker a gigantic oil investment deal for one of the titans of industry, ran his own business. And he ran it real tight
. And the memos of that business -- which spawned this post -- are some of the funniest interoffice memos on the planet.