So the Walton family almost instinctively put a pretty tight lid on personal publicity for any of us, althoughwe kept living out in the open and going around visiting folks in the stores all the time. Fortunately, here inBentonville, our friends and neighbors protected us from a lot of these scavengers. But I did getambushed by the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" guy at a tennis tournament I was playing in, andHelen talked to one of the women's magazines for an article. The media usually portrayed me as a reallycheap, eccentric recluse, sort of a hillbilly who more or less slept with his dogs in spite of having billionsof dollars stashed away in a cave. Then when the stock market crashed in 1987, and Wal-Mart stockdropped along with everything else in the market, everybody wrote that I'd lost a half billion dollars.
Finally, I hope there's a special place in heaven reserved for my two secretaries, Loretta Boss, who waswith me for twenty-five years, and Becky Elliott, who's been with me now for three years. They deserveit after what they've put up with here on earth.
Like any other company, we obviously wanted to keep our stock price up and attract as many newinvestors as we could. And the way we went at that early on was about as unorthodox as everything elsewe've done. Most public companies hold annual stockholders' meetings, and many hold sessions for WallStreet stock analysts, where they tell their company story and try to drum up support for their stock. As Itold you, Mike Smith is an off-the-wall guy with good ideas and suggestions that are somewhatunorthodox. So right after we went public, Mike suggested that we might want to turn our stockholders'