Carl Icahn’s company Icahn Enterprises LP (IEP) lost half its value in May. There could be more bad news coming for IEP investors like me.

I bought stock in IEP because it owns the Martex Towel brand. Martex towels are luxury towels that are soft and absorbent. I was raised in Fairfax, Alabama, the town that was for many years the home of Martex Towels. In the 1950s, the Alabama-made Martex towels were so luxurious they were used in fine hotels and palaces. My parents and grandparents made Martex Towels. Alabamians were proud of their Martex towels and their state motto, “Heart of Dixie.” Today, the “Heart of Dixie”-made Martex towels are made in the Heart of Bahrain.

The Georgia-based West Point Manufacturing Co. (WPMC), founded in the mid-1800s, built the Fairfax Mill and its Mill Village around the mill. The Mill Village gave the WPMC the benefit of having its labor supply near the mill. The company sold Fairfax Mill Village houses to its employees. I was raised in a Mill Village house my parents bought in the late 1950s.

In 1955, the WPMC called its Fairfax Mill Village “another splendid representative of model textile communities.”  Today, the Fairfax Mill is long gone. Its former location is a vacant lot. Many houses that were a part of the once-thriving Mill Village are still occupied.

As a child, I was in a print advertisement for Martex Towels. The 1961 ad first appeared in the WPMC’s magazine The West Pointer. According to an Alabama library archivist, the magazine ceased publication in 1966. My father, a Korean veteran, who later served with Alabama’s Army National Guard for the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march, appeared wearing his Guard uniform in the August 1966 issue of The West Pointer. Based on my father’s Guard service, I was cast as a reporter in the 2015 film “Selma.” My scenes were filmed in Atlanta during Father’s Day weekend in 2014.

In the 1961 print ad, I was the 6-year-old “driver” of a custom-made kid’s truck called the Martex “Special.” The WPMC had a transportation and distribution center with many large trucks with the company name and logo on the body of the truck.  The custom-made kid’s truck was on the playground at the racially segregated Fairfax Kindergarten that I attended. The caption for the Martex “Special” photo read: “(T)his group at Fairfax kindergarten relives a Sunday afternoon ride through the countryside.” I am the smiling “driver,” and my cute little girlfriend was in the passenger seat. Four playmates occupied the back seat. The photo caption ended: “Such activities help promote healthy personalities.”

Over the years, the Martex “Special” photo has appeared in my local newspaper to continue to sell Martex towels and for nostalgia purposes. I also use the photo in speeches about growing up in Mill Village, the strong sense of pride in the community, and the “healthy personalities” of the hardworking people, including my parents and grandparents, that I knew.

Across the street from my kindergarten was WPMC’s Fairfax Mill, the Home of Martex Towels. My parents and grandparents made Martex towels until they retired. At night, an Art Deco-style sign above the mill’s main entrance beamed an appealing and haunting blue-lighted Martex for all to see.

My pleasant memories of the Martex “Special” and Martex Towels have faded into a possible financial scandal. I have warm memories of my 1961 kindergarten time in the Martex “Special.” In 2023, I am experiencing different emotions about my experience with the Carl Icahn  “Special.” I deserve better in my retirement years. If I lose my investment in IEP, what does Mr. Icahn want me to do? I should drive a real truck! The last “big rig” I “drove” was on an Alabama kindergarten playground over 60 years ago!

Today, Martex towels are produced in Bahrain. IEP corporate headquarters are in Florida. Does anyone know where Mr. Icahn is?

Buying stock for sentimental reasons is not the greatest investment decision. Investors need financial reports, market sector analysis and a good fortune teller. Before making any investment decision, I suggest a warm bath. Afterward, dry off with a luxurious Martex towel. I am a born salesman. I am immediately available for work!

When I bought IEP stock, I wanted a solid investment in a brand my family and I knew. Instead, I got the Icahn “Special.” I have not yet thrown in the towel. I will carry on. To quote Scarlett O’Hara: “Burdens are for shoulders strong enough to carry them.”

My fond memories of my Alabama childhood in Fairfax, a “splendid representative of model textile communities,” the kindergarten Martex “Special,” and the luxuriously soft and absorbent Martex towels are now Gone with the Windbag Carl Icahn. To paraphrase another Scarlett O’Hara quote: “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get my money back.”