Have You Met?
Name: Homer Reed
Resident: 50 years
Education: Humboldt High School
Profession: Owner Homer Reed Ltd. Clothing stores
Family: Married to Jody for 17 years, 5 months
Story by: Jennifer Timmins
If you can handle corrupt Chicago city officials extorting you and union bosses breathing down your neck and threatening your life, then opening your own line of men’s clothing stores doesn’t seem like such a big risk.
But that’s getting ahead of the story….
After serving as a transportation pilot in World War II, Homer Reed knew one thing: there was a shortage of everything and he wanted his own business. At the age of 21, he moved to Chicago and started the Jolly Jack Ice Cream Company. He had 85 ice cream carts around town stocked with all kinds of ice cream bars. He rented an old, closed gas station. That’s where his staff made the ice cream bars, packaged and stored them. It was working like a well-oiled machine except for “all of those inspectors” -- Homer’s way of describing the union bosses and city officials who expected kickbacks from business owners in those days.
Almost weekly, Homer said someone would stop by who wanted to be paid off. Once, while having dinner, an electrical inspector asked him for $100. Homer said “no” and the following week, in the heat of the summer months, an inspector stopped by and shut off the electricity, citing poor wiring.
The ice cream in the freezers started to melt. Homer called the electrical company and was asked: “Has anyone asked you for something recently? Well, you better double what they wanted and this won’t happen again.”
Then, the Teamsters Union wanted to unionize his business and he objected. He said his life was threatened so he sold everything and took the overnight Zephyr to Denver.
Homer had always liked fine clothing so he decided to open Homer Reed Ltd., specializing in tailored suits and upscale casual men’s wear. His 50 years in business have been successful and enjoyable-- except for 1960, when his store was robbed seven times.
Like many other Denver businesses, Homer Reed’s was being victimized by a ring of unscrupulous city policemen, several dozen of whom eventually were sent to jail in a huge scandal.
Homer is happy to be celebrating 50 years of business with three stores. His wife Jody does all of the computer work and the advertising for the stores.
Saturdays are likely to find him in: Playing golf at The Denver Country Club.
Favorite Denver restaurants: Papillion’s, The Brown Palace-Ships Tavern, Little Ollie’s, Trinity Grill, 7th Avenue Grill.
Favorite book: “The Wall Street Journal” and “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw.
Favorite quote: “When you get older, your candles cost more than your birthday cake.”
Who are some of your memorable customers? So many celebrities and famous people have come into the store through the years. Sammy Davis, Jr. was a very good customer. Debbie Reynolds used to come in and shop when she was married to Tony Curtis. That was in the 1950s when Aspen was just beginning their climb in popularity with the stars. When President Eisenhower was at Fitzsimons Hospital recuperating from a heart attack, we outfitted him with sport coats and slacks. That was pretty exciting. Governor John Love was voted one of the best-dressed men and he bought his clothes at Homer Reed, Ltd . When Senator John Warner was married to Elizabeth Taylor, he came into the store a couple of times.
What gives a woman/man style: Wearing the proper clothing and taking care of those clothes. I wish men still wore topcoats but most men don’t see the need for them anymore. I think the swing to business casual is a mistake. We carry clothing for business casual but I prefer a more professional look. It’s not just the clothes -- grooming matters too. I’m not impressed with facial hair.
What do you always have in your refrigerator? Pickled herring
What’s your favorite junk food? Goldfish crackers
What was your most memorable meal? 11 Madison Park Restaurant. Jody and I flew to New York and had dinner with Tom Brokaw at this restaurant.
What food can’t you live without? I follow the Pritikin Diet. They are pretty specific about what you can and can’t eat.
Where do you go in your home to feel completely relaxed and just think? I have a small library in our house and like to go in there when I want to relax.
What one word describes you best? Positive thinker and optimist
What word would you like others to use to describe you? Good person and enthusiastic
If your life were a movie, what would the title be and who would play you? It would be called “I Can’t Wait for Tomorrow” and my part would be played by Henry Fonda. He usually portrayed a good person.
Who is your hero? Why? Tom Brokaw. He is such a gentleman, kind and came from very humble beginnings.
What is your pet peeve? Gum chewing. It spoils a person appearance. Also, people who are impolite. There is just no excuse for that kind of behavior.
Where can you be found at midnight? Watching the news
What was your first job? When I was five years old, I sold vegetables out of my mother’s garden. I knew early on that I had a knack for selling.
What would you do if you were king of the world? Try for world peace. I would change the age requirement for the armed services and only let those apply who are 55 years old or more. Then there wouldn’t be any wars because someone who is 55 won’t want to fight in a war. An 18-year-old thinks he will never die.
What word or expression do you use too much? “Great.”
If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? I really like myself the way I am. I am a very happy man.
What is your greatest indulgence? A hot dog.
Best gift you ever gave? A few hugs to people who needed a hug. I’m taking my whole family on a cruise to Alaska. I’m really looking forward to that.
What is one thing nobody knows about you? I’m a pretty open guy. There isn’t much people don’t already know.
Which social event is your favorite? The Central City Ball which benefited the Central City Opera.
If you could be something other than what you are, what would you be? Investment banking business. Money makes money and there is no inventory. My second choice would be a professional pianist and I would like to play jazz like Oscar Peterson or Errol Garner.
What is a favorite childhood memory? Watching my Mom bake bread in the kitchen. I remember eating it right out of the oven with butter. My Mom also taught me to paint.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you ever met? Tom Brokaw. Jody and I had dinner with Tom and heard him speak. He was very interesting, personable and took the time to shake everyone’s hand. A few weeks before the dinner, I had written to him to say we were looking forward to the evening. I also sent him one of the Homer Reed’s Anniversary ties. At the dinner, he remembered my name, where I was from and the tie. It’s an evening I’ll never forget.
What makes you laugh? True stories about myself that are funny.
What is your favorite item of clothing in your closet? Ties. In celebration of our 50th year in business, I’m wearing a tie that is a patchwork combination of the patterns of the best selling ties. It was designed by Talbott Ties.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? I’m proud of the young people I’ve helped who are just starting out.
What is your personal motto? I look in the mirror everyday and say “I’m going to try and be nicer today”.
What might your epitaph read? “He always had a smile on his face and in his heart.”
What is the best advice your Mom/Dad ever gave you? “Be good to people.”
Favorite Restaurant?: Papillion’s, The Brown Palace-Ships Tavern, Little Ollie’s, Trinity Grill, 7th Avenue Grill.
Saturday night at midnight is most likely to find you?: Playing golf at The Denver Country Club.
Favorite books / Writers?: “The Wall Street Journal” and “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw.
What is your motto?: “When you get older, your candles cost more than your birthday cake.”