Dorothy (Dot) Rice, the Society Editor at the Journal & Courier, worked the night shift with Steve. Dot joined the newspaper’s night gang on their Monday excursions to the Vaudeville Theater, where Steve usually sat next to her. Dot was a year older and more mature than Steve. She liked his enthusiasm and humor and thought that Steve was handsome with his striking blue eyes and thick eyebrows. Many of Dot’s family and friends could not see what she saw in Steve Hannagan, a newspaper hawker from the wrong part of town and without the sophistication needed to succeed in executive suites.
While the War was good to Steve (because of the war, he became City and Sports editor with hefty raises), it nearly left Dot’s father destitute. During World War I, her father, who was a shirt manufacturer, borrowed money to buy cotton at high prices for his shirt factory. When the war ended sooner than expected, he could not pay back the loan when demand for cotton shirts collapsed, and her father had to declare bankruptcy.
At a time when religion mattered more than today, Dot Rice, a Jew, attended Christmas mass with Steve. However, Steve never accompanied her to the synagogue. It is not known if Aunt Jo or Uncle Billy knew that Dot was Jewish, but her family knew that Steve was Catholic. The differences in religions began to wedge apart their relationship, especially when they discussed marriage and children. While Dot was not inflexible about religion, she did not want to be a Catholic. Although they amicably discussed marriage and children, they could never surmount the obstacles that their respective religion placed in front of them. Eventually, they decided that continuing the relationship would not work.
Rice and Samuel Insull and His Infamous Ponzi Scheme
In the late 1920s Steve went to work for Lord & Thomas, a major advertising firm in Chicago. While there Albert Lasker, President of the Firm, assigned Steve to work with Samuel Insull who was under indictment for financial fraud. Insull’s legal problems began when his investment empire of utility companies collapsed at the start of the Great Depression. Insull’s wealth was built on the sale of stock to his 30,000 employees and to thousands of small stock investors. Sadly, many of Insull investors dumped their modest savings into his stock.
During the time that Steve was working with Insull Steve ran into Dorothy Rice who angrily charged that Insull had defrauded her uncle out of his life’s savings. She was appalled that Steve was helping Insull and asked him how he could possibly defend such a horrendous person. His answer was simple – “Money.” More of this story is in the Hannagan biography that covers, Steve’s campaign that kept Insull from jail.
After Steve’s mother’s funeral, he told Paul Sullivan, his cousin that he would have been happier staying in Lafayette and marrying Dot Rice. Dot Rice and Steve remained close friends for the rest of his life. However, Steve would not have been satisfied staying in Lafayette
Edward Ross, who interviewed Steve’s friends and family in made this trenchant analogy in his notebook. Steve was like the ancient Cuban fisherman in Hemingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea, who was asked why he couldn’t bring home the big fish that he landed; he replied: “Nothing, I went out too far.”
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Ross, Edward Ellis; Hannagan Research Document; source; New York University Archives; p.140-A. ↑