Business: Phone Calls and Philandering

Ma Bell's slip shows in a San Antonio courtroom

On Oct. 17, 1974, T.O. Gravitt, the 51-year-old chief executive in Texas for Southwestern Bell, of which he was a vice president walked into the garage of his $120,000 north Dallas home, turned on the ignition of his Oldsmobile and settled back to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Later that day, Gravitt's family and Bell colleagues found in his briefcase a nine-page memo accusing his company of political payoffs, illegal wiretapping and using questionable bookkeeping to secure telephone rate increases. A hand-scribbled message added, "There...

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