My brother-in-law Merle was a regional credit manager for Phillips 66. As anyone in business will tell you, a sale is not complete until you have been paid. A credit manager’s job is to see that the company gets paid. This is not always easy. When Merle was transferred to a territory which included Alabama and Mississippi, he learned that the previous credit manager had asked for a transfer.
It seemed that a major petroleum jobber was persistently late on million-dollar invoices. The credit manager was just as persistent in reminding the jobber that Phillips expected invoices to be paid when due. Like one of “those good old boys” from back in the bayous, the jobber announced that he would be tempted to use the rifle hanging in the back window of his pickup the next time he heard another word about paying invoices on time.
I asked Merle how he handled the situation. “Well, the manager I replaced was a nice guy, and he wanted to keep both the customer and our sales department happy. The jobber was one of our biggest customers in the area. But he was earning interest on money that he owed Phillips 66, and Phillips could use that interest too.
“I spent a day looking over the filling stations in the area and decided that he needed Phillips just as much as we needed him, so I told him that if he didn’t start paying on time, I would stop deliveries until he got caught up. We got along just fine after that.”
As a mid-level manager for Phillips 66, Merle was expected to entertain colleagues and their wives from time to time. His wife, Joyce, had the job of providing the food. Here is a simple, savory appetizer that their guests always enjoyed, and Joyce shared it with Jerri.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
5 T shortening
2/3 cup milk
1 lb. pork sausage
Stir the flour, salt and baking powder together in a mixing bowl and cut in the shortening with a fork or pastry blender as if you were making biscuits. Add the milk to moisten the dry ingredients. If necessary, add a little more milk or flour so the dough is moist but not wet.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it briefly, just ten or twelve turns. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a quarter inch thick rectangle. Spread the uncooked sausage evenly on the dough. Roll each rectangle as if you were making a jelly roll.
Cover the rolls and chill them for an hour to make them easier to slice. Preheat the oven to 400º.
Slice the rolls into quarter or half-inch rounds and put them a half inch apart on baking sheets. Bake the pinwheels for ten to twelve minutes until they are lightly browned. Serve them warm.
NOTES: Long after Merle retired, he and Joyce visited our cabin at Cable. As we drove Highway 63 north, Merle told us that he had checked a directory of Phillips 66 dealers after he learned that his sister was planning to marry a guy from Hayward. Until we crossed that beautiful river, he said, he had always assumed that Namekagon Oil Company was owned by Mr. Namekagon. The story still makes us smile.