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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
D--We are doing an interview with William Reynolds. It's in his home on
Keynan Avenue. The date is December 14, 1987. The interviewer is David
Dodrill. Bill, tell me a little bit about your background before you got
involved in real estate or any connection with Gulf American. Tell me
a little bit about your background, your education. Stuff like that.
B--Well, I graduated from Ft. Myers High School in 1938 at the age of 16
and went to college at Monolith College for two years. And then decided
I wanted to return to the University of Florida for school. Graduated from
their in 1942. Then I went into the V-7 Naval program at Columbia Univer-
sity for 90 day wonder naval officers. And got out in '46 and I, my ser-
vices weren't in demand by anyone. So, my father who bought and sold
real estate. He knew a little bit but it wasn't his primary business.
Never ran a commission real estate office, so I tried my hands in real
estate. So I started and got a secretary and finally was able to afford
one after three or four years. I went from there, maybe you expanded your
network of acquaintances. You know, you didn't do much business for a
while. And maybe I would do a little more business.
D--You mentioned something about your dad. Buying land down here in Ft. Myers
and selling it and bringing people down. Tell me a little bit about that.
How that worked.
B--Well, he graduated law school the University of Nebraska in Lincoln,
Nebraska. He lived with a couple of young men. One ended up being
Governor of Nebraska and one was a topnotch attorney. But he never thought
he was articulate enough to be an attorney so he never practiced and
heard about in Iowa, his home, there was a land boom south of North
Dakota, so he borrowed half of his father's life savings, a couple of
thousand dollars maybe. And presumed, proceeded to lose it all. So
then he heard about Florida so he came down to Ft. Myers in 1911 and
he used to bring trainloads of Iowa farmers. He'd buy 80 acres, 160
acres maybe. He'd attempt to sell them. He'd organize them in the Des
Moines area. They wanted the trip to Florida anyway because Florida was
enchanting to them. And it still is to a lot. So, he sold quite a few
5, 10 acre tracts from probably about 1913. So, he was just buying and
selling on his own. lie and another partner developed about a 15,000 acre
ranch, on the westside of Lake Okechobee which he and others always told
me was the greatest winter grazing ranchland in Florida. Because it
flooded in the summer and had the first grass buds coming out in the
winer, a lot of protein. So we moved to Ft. Myers in 1923.
D-Where were some of those pieces of land?
B--Oh, some were out in north Ft. Myers out Bayshore Road. We call it
Bay Shore. Of course, that was remote in those days. Cause also I
might mention he owned the only bridge across the river when he was
bringing these farmers down was the railroad bridge. So, he'd have to
rent a boat or paddle from the south side of the river where the rail-
road ended to the land on the northside. You know, from here to
was a full days' trip. Arcadia was a full day's trip.
D--Would these people use this land mostly for agriculture?
B--Probably just investment.
D--M!ost of them would never come down and live here?
D--Oh, I guess maybe some, you know, came down. Of course, when I came back
from the was in '46, Lee County, including Ft. Myers (of course, Ft. Myers
was probably 11,000), Lee County was about 15,000. There was 23,050 I
believe. 1960 in Lee County we had 54,000. In 1970 we had 103. In 1980,
in the county we had about 205. Doubled practically between 70 and 80.
And of course now they estimate two 85 University of Flordia census
D--That's quite a flock of folks.
B--Yes, yes. When did you dad come down here?
D-He came down in 1972.
B-Was is '72? Fifteen years. I remember when he walked in the office.
D-It's been a while. Let me ask you a question. About your first associa-
tion with Leonard Rosen. Maybe even before that. I'm trying to go back
on the different parcels of land and stuff tht ended up making up Cape
B--O.K. There was a subdivision started, a new subdivision, probably mail
order. You know, some newspaper advertising, called Harbour Heights,
north of Charlotte Harbour, East River. Charlotte County and Punta
Gorda. Now, it would have joined Port Charlotte on the east. But you
took a road north from 41 about three miles going to Venice right over
the bridge a little ways and north. So, I believe, I heard he was inter-
ested in some land and I was very notorious for being a hard worker.
But I went up there, maybe something fascinated me, maybe somebody told
me he had a prospect for a good piece of land. So I went up to see him.
He was very articulate, been in advertising business for years, a sales-
man type. Colorful in language and all. And you know, I could see how
he could plant a germ that would mature in some way. So, I bought him
a photograph, you know and a map. And showed it to him. It was where
the yacht club is. You know the point where the road kind of goes south
and turns west there. You can see it. I told him about that and, oh,
they want to be in Ft. Myers. There wasn't enough exposure. Port
Charlotte wasn't enough exposure. It had no pedigree, maybe. Ft. Myers
had a least name recognition. So, he said "I think we might be very much
interested Then he came down on his own.
D--Now, this was all in 1956?
B-Oh, no, this was about '58. Maybe February. So, he came down and we met
out was originally an old estate, but they called it a hotel. I sold him
the property. Larry Gold from San FRancisco and L.A. Called it the Ft.
Myers Biltmore. They had some cottages for rental. The guy had some
old... So, he converted it into some kind of a night club and hotel and
all that. The biggest thing that we had. What the hell did I get on that
for? Oh, we met out there because I thought it would be quiet and there
woudln'g be any distractions. You know, whatever, talking. He told me
earlier that he wanted fine drainage, which anybody should want. You
couldn't beat this, you've got drainage east and south. That was the
beauty and a tragedy. I see all these risers that think they are going
to be colorful talk about that being a swamp over there. They developed
it from a swamp. Well, hell, it's the best piece of drained land. It
had rivers. As it turned out, six seven miles going that way and four
or five going west. You know, natural flows to the southwest and south.
So, he was impressed by that. And then flew over it and was agina impressed.
And I think that south piece down there was under contract. It might have
been with another broker and we worked out a deal where we could give
him so much for the contract. We thought it was a lot. Of course, this
guy was in for big dollars, it was peanuts to him. NOt that he had a lot
of money, he was comfortable. He had a bunch of backers in this. I don't
know. They probably put up 70, 80 percent of received money. He probably
put up 20, I'm not sure. So, then I asked Mendelson where I'd met Rosen
by this time. YOu know, he seemed nice enough. Of course, he was a
driver. And in everybody's heart I guess he was. He wanted to do
things.... lie wouldn't take real estate commission unless he had to.
YOu know, nothing wrong with that. You can get the same thing why not
trade? But, I said, Milt how in the world did you get ahold a Peter?
Ie told me this or Rosen told me. So, anyway, the way they used to have
an old Charlotte Harbour HKtel, which is somewhat like the breakers or
the in St. PEte. Well, we had an old Royal Palm frame
on the river here, where the Sheraton is, you know. Well that never made
and his sales and everything else, I guess
let's try a spa. So that was one of the earlier spas. They turned it and
redecorated it. The Rosens spent time in Miami just vacationing. Cause
he had Charles Antel cosmetics of some kind and he had a big gimmick on
it. And I guess it was doing pretty good becuase he later sold it out.
I don't know what he got. 4,5,6, million. But he somehow met Mendelson.
Who had also probably been a pitch man. Besides an advertising man. And
he'd been in the real estate business up there at Harbour Heights. North
of the river in Port Charloote, Punta Gorda. So, he told him, and boy he
could be grandiose. He could throw figures. He, no doubt, made it the
easiest con game that had ever came about in Florida. So, he enchanted
him with the possibilities and that was the real germ that motivated
Rosen to go in. Because it looked so great. So, he came into our office
because he didn't have an office and we were about the only contact that
he had. They kind of run things out of our little office. VWhich was
all right with us. It didn't bother us. And then it just, as you know,
gross sales just went up. Quadrupled, quitupled. You know, all that sort
D-So, the first piece of Inad that they bought was down there, where the
yacht basin is today. I think they called it red fish point. I think it
was the name.
B--It's got a name, I believe because it's Red Fish Pass over the south seas
between Captiva and Could be REd Fish Point. Bob Bass,
I think, owns it. The Miles Laboratory. John Bass married one of the
Miles girls. Still lives here. Is about 78 now. Doing fine.
D--Approximately how many acres is that, or do you remember?
B--I think they bought originally about 1500 acres and then we kept selling
him. There was a lot of people. The Rosens only came south to Pine
Island Road. It was grazing road and farmers. You know, I'd sold a
bunch of land over there to farmers, and a bunch of others.
And they could get down that grated road. But only maybe four miles,
four and a half. So, down to the water where that yacht club was pro-
bably another four and half. It was about nine miles from Pine Island
to the yacht club. People that had the land, they probably think we
sold a bunch of it a seventy dollars an acre. Forty, fifty dollars.
Thiryt thousand roughly for 32,000. 640 acres. So, they thought they
could get 200 or 300 an acre. So we just kept trying to come north. And
D--Were most of the people that owned the land people that farmed it or
tried to farm it?
B--Yes. I was trying to think if anybody just owned it for hunting. Those
in the west later on.
D-Tell me a little bit about Leonard Rosen. What kind of a man he was or
what you saw when you knew him and stuff.
B--Well, he seemed to be a very driving human, you know. He'd work all hours.
He still like to party. He still liked the girls. He like them very
much. He had a good time with all of the girls. You know, he's pretty
sharp. He'd been a pitch man in the circus when he was young.
D-That's what I understand.
B--I don't know how young, maybe 18. But he was a very caustic guy. Hle had
no respect for people's feelings. You know, he'd maybe devastate them
with language and profanities that most of us wouldn't appreciate. That
type. But he eveidentaly he could get people, you know. The big people
he got in here were amateurs. in the business. Of course, it wasn't a
typical real estate operation. YOu know, this is a mass merchandising
television. They give them parties in Cleveland, all over. They'd get
the hype out. Well, he'd take products and put them on t.v. and see how
they pitch on t.v. I guess he'd done that quite a bit. So, they'd tell
them, maybe, they were compelling to the people that were there.
A compelling motion picture, beaches and palm trees. I guess they'd
serve them a dinner and cocktails. They did real well for a while. Of
course, they even bought their own air force. Four engine planes coming
in here. Then that cost, as I recall. I think the cost was pretty high
per passenger. I don't think he was too worried about stretching the
truth considerably on their presentation on the property. I heard
all kinds of stories. A couple of guys who worked for me who had worked
for them and jsut had enough. They were pretty good producers. Well,
one guy said "Here's where they Catholic Church is going." OUt in the
boon docks. These people would buy it because they came back and it
was mostly all wookds. Not too much streets. El Prado and Cape Coral
Parkway. So, they didn't know where the hell, there was no way they
could picture it.
D--Did you ever have a chance to meet Jack Rosen?
IB--I never did. I saw him. Leonard
Me and my office. I don't think it was me becuass I didn't describe
or wasn't factual and all. But I think one of the guys in my office
I told him something and maybe he was going overboard a little bit and
maybe he perceived it that way. And he got pretty upset which I'm sorry.
I don't rant people to get upset. We were about through because he had
his own purchasing people department then.
D-Let me ask you a question. I understand, nas you office in on the pur-
chase of the Phipps land out there?
D--Tell me that story of that.
B--Well, I don't really know too much. It was a question of we had sub-
mitted it to them and they conducted all the negotiations in New York
with the Phipps who had an office in New York and Bessimers products
in Palm Beach. Miami. They handled all that, but I guess we were kind
of like a leech. We determined that we were the original
because they knew the land was there. They didn't need us. And so we
got a token commission. Not big.
D-What was Phipps...how did he make his money?
B-Ogden Phipps was a partner, his father, he developed the Bessimer process
in steel. I don't even know what they does, but I've always heard of it.
The Bessimer process. And he was Andrew Carnigie's partner, in U.S. Steel.
So, that's how that tremendous fortune. And I guess when Carnigie sold
out or whoever bought it, you know, he had his division, whether it was
fifty-fifty or what. But that trust compnay in Palm Beach, good perfor-
mance. Won't touch you unless you've got seven or eight million.
D--The Phipps lnad, I understand that was mostly Inad from Santa Barbara
out west. Where did the land come from north of HIghway Road. Was that
all those little bitty pieces?
B-Yes. I sold Inad to, four hundred acres. Oh, yes Dr. Stipe, north of
Pine Island Road. Maybe owned north three miles and back east towards
Ft. Myers. I think he bought that. But it was probably 12,000 acres.
Not all solid. But I remember he paid three dollars an acre for it. My
first big deal was 6600 up on 41 north. About two and half miles to
Charlotte County in the east side of 41. Three and a half in Charlotte
County and two and a half in Lee, back of the railroad. 6600 and I sold
the guy from Highland Kansas. YOu know, I don't Iow if he was a merchant
or a trader. They an acre, '49 first big deal. About
36,000 dollars. I thought taht was all the money there ever was.
B--And then I started selling fair sizes. From different people plus I think
that one purchase. They paid about 12 million dollars sales. For the time
fU> Phipps extracted last dollar. who laid the road for me
was Ogden Phipps hunting guys and fishing guys. have you
heard of him. He used to take a big boast and travel to Central and
South America. Hunt panthers or jaguars, whatever you hunt down there.
And, oh, yeah. He must have bought that in about '52. Phipps. But
this always struck me. I'm not hunter but I'd go out there and watch
others shoot dove or quail. They spent 25,000 dollars a year in '52 and
'53 for bird feed. He Ogden, the old man he's about 72 now.
A nice man, baldheaded guy. He loved to shoot quail and 25,000 for
quail feed in those days would be like 150,000 today.
D-Tat' s a lot of quail.
B-But, they didn't live out on the place. Fingers did, the guide. Of
course he's a guy. They lived on their 100 or 110 foot
down here at the yacht basin. A sleek, beautiful, stunning. I took a
trip on it one time.
D--What you call it?
B-They called it Virgenere.
D-I've seen that.
B--Well, Evinrude voters, they had the sister ship. There was only two of
D-So, he was you partner.
B--No, he wanted to nork for me after they sold the ranch and there wasn't
this much to do. And they leased some land up northeast or Moorehaven.
His son-in-law was Pete Pulitizer, Pulitizer Prize. Had the big divorce
action. You remember, the gal sued him, she was in Playboy. ile's a nice
D--He was the son of?
B--Phipps's stepdaughter. His second wife.
D--Ogden Phipps is still alive?
B--Yes. He's on the board of Texaco. A bunch of big boardships. But, boy
he believes in Do you Ikow people that wait? He hunts and
fishes what he wants to do. Now he spends all winter over at Palm Beach.
Hell, they own a good share of Palm Beach, commercial. A lot in Miami.
A lot on Biscayne Blvd. But they sold it.
This is just the general manager of real estate, they call it Bessimer
Properties, Coral Gables. He was, he and the guy from the
one that put together the land for Disney World. he was telling me all
about it. Peters took me up. He was in the Southeast Bank Building,
this was 20 years ago. Disney World is what, 17 or 16.
D-They just had their fifteenth anniversary.
B--This was '70. About 1970, maybe. We don't have Southeast BAnk. I was
asking him all kinds of questions, you know. Tell me how they did it.
D--If the Rosens had after you initial contact they started to get
purchasing people to buy land and stuff like, who was doing most of their
purchasing for them?
B--The land? Eddie Pacelli. They got him from somewhere and he bought it.
He whipped up ownerships and negotiated.
D--Was that Henshaw?
B--Yes. Bob Henshaw.
D-He acted kind of as a front man for them.
B--Yes. He was the purchasing.
D--Any idea where he is at now?
B--He was donw here. Eddie didn't know? Did you ask Eddie? I don't know.
I didn't know him. I mean, I Imew him to see. Cause you Imow, they went
public. I guess they went public, was it Gulf Guarantee Land or some-
thing like that. Gulf America?
D--They became Gulf American Land Corporation. They had some problem with
the guarantee and title in the name. Some legal problem.
B--But then they went public and all of us made some money on it. It was a
big jump. Sales were quadrupling. I don't know how shoddy their accountant
was. It looked like their earnings were up quite a bit. Then the state
of Florida got on them. REal bad, advertising, all the t.v. and editorial
rap. You know, seeling swampland. And misguiding these people. But
then they sold out to GAC. And they took, I think they got very little
cash, you know, two million a piece. I don't know if even that much.
But I remember that he and Jack, I just figured in my mind, each got
around 200 million in preferred bond and stock. And I don't think,
I guess it was convertible, I don't know. But I don't think they could
trade it for five years. Heavens, it only took about three years for
them to go bankrupt. That whole deal, you know, and Eddie could tell
you, their gross revenue was about 500 million, maybe. And they end up
getting nothing. Bonds had no value.
D-Do you think that sales of all those residential lots out there in Cape
Coral had an effect on residential sales in Ft. Myers? Or, did the
people in Ft. Myers just look at Cape Coral and say, we don't want
anything to do with it.
B-I wouldn't say so. I don't think it depressed values in Ft. Myers.
YOu know, I'd say they developed 60,000 acres. You know, streets and
shopping centers and schools and hospitals. Well, those are all 80
foot lots. Of course, they had the canals. I'd say they got two lots
for an acre, average. On, that's 80,000 lots. Hell, that's
where they young people are getting started. Bill my nephew, my wife's
nephew, just bought a lot over there, good drainage. YOu know, there's
a canal kind of acroos. 9500. You couldn't buy a lot. All those are
fairly new homes. I mean, it's marvelous for young people in the area.
It's clean, it's new.
D--Back when it was starting did the people in Ft. Myers kind of say, well
it isnew but it's kind of lower class.
B-I don't think too much. They did at Lehigh. I sold that too. Lehigh
Acres out on the east of town.
D-Tell me about that.
B-Well, he was kind of an advertising man too. Not in a major way but would
promote products, the same as Rosen. He developed D-Con rat poison and
that was really a winner.
B-Yes. Chicago boy. Jewish boy, heavyset. We sold them 14,000 acres for
Bloomberg. Entrepreneur, invested in real estate, made a lot of
money. Around fifty dollars an acre which was probably 20 dollars over
the market. Probably about 1949 or 50. And Lee just opened a ranch in
Florida. He either had a home or was getting a home, in Miami Beach.
Of course, you know all the Jewish boys wanted to have a big mansion,
gentiles too I guess. YOu know, I'm not an anti-semetic. So, he came
down Where some people congregate. He had a guy,
Tonry Brad with him. In '49 I was 28 so he was probably about 31.
Brad, he loved NIce guy, I like him. VWE could have
a good time. But he already said, whether this is true. And he said he
met a fairly nice guy. It was Al Capone's sister. His mother's sister
married Al Capone. Well, anyway....
D-He was reaction to Tommy Brad?
B-Yes. Well I don't know what Lee had. I didn't' think Brad could handle
the business side. But they came in smck. house and thought we'd close
this deal up and leave it where Bloomberg. And somewhere they outfitted
themselves with a scarf and a big hat and the cowboy boots. And they
came in and they are loud people. Came in and they caused a scene. They
got everybody's attention. But then he messed around with and started
growing grass for pay. You know, grass. Trying to get something to cut
down costs a little bit. Hell, he was being big money. He only paid
about 10 percent down. Bloomberg let him go and he paid that mortgage
off. Iell, that's only 700,000 dollars. But it's big money. That was
the biggest deal we ever handled. Well, then, he heard about somebody
selling lots. So, he's a master advertisers, maybe t.v. But he kept
going on t.v. and newspapers and stuff like that. And he told me that
money was just coming in. Ten dollars down, ten dollars a week. You know,
people all over Florida. Buy this lot, 500 dollars, 700 and he did the
roads. Som then he sold I think the only interest he put
in I guess he had to put a central order plan for the area.
D-Who did he sell that to?
B-Well, the Catholic Diocease bought it at one time. The savings and loan
now. I bet if you examine their balcne sheet they are broke now. But
some Savings and Loan out in Pheonix owns it. I don't know whey they
D-Terrazo when he first bought it never really intended to sell lots.
B-Oh, no. He just saw an example of it and tried to do it. I like him
personally because of Lee Rosen. I maen, he was really a pretty nice
guy. He could be tough. You just don't blow 25,000. That's pretty good
money in those days, on some advertising and see what happens. I guess
they must of taken some money out of it. He got in the oil business
out in HOuston. But got bruised on the '74 oil.
D-Just like everybody else. Trying to get off of that a little bit, Eddie
Pacelli, now he worked for you at one time?
B--Well, I say he worked for me. lie sold his bar called the surf club down
in Ft. Myer's beach. lWhen you turn left down there it is on the right.
He sold that and came in and wanted to know if he could come in. Well,
I didn't know him. So, I said, Yes, I had an empty desk. I never had had
an office with three or four guys. So, then Rosen was using our office.
And he met him and he offered him a job. He asked him what he was going
to pay, 25,000 a year, which is big in 59. He asked me and I said, "Hell,
I'd go." You can always come back to the real estate business. You
might get some exposure. For instance, and see what happens. So, he
went with him and I guess he stayed until about '58. I forget when the
Rosens lost control.
D-They sold out in early '69.
B-I was thinking it was about that. I think he stayed on a little bit but
not tool long.
D-Let me see if I've got anything else here. I can't think of too much
else. Anything else you can remember about Gulf America? Let me ask
you one question which may help to jog your memory a little bit. With
the Cape Coral Bridge, how did people in Ft. Myers think about the Cape
/D, 2 Coral Bridge? I understand there was a big fight about it.
B--Vell, yeah. I believe it was just a few people that lived in the vicinity.
The most one was Al Sutton. They owned south of the bridge on
the water. And he had Paul Brown, the football coach and a lot of those
sports people came down here and entertained and plus customers. They
used to have seven, eight, ten cottages, dormitories there.
D-And that was south of where the bridge comes into Ft. Myers?
B--Yes. It joins it now, at the river.
D--Are there still those little Cottages?
B-Yes. They are still in there. Commercial, Inc. Company in
Cleveland, pretty big operation, used to own the Cleveland arean. But
he was adamant about it. the golfer, lived north. She wasn't
really bothered. Probably 600 feet. And I've been into her house and know
her quite well. Well, I don't think too many others, not like this mid-
point bridge, well you've been away. But that's created a lot more.
D--That's what I hear.
B-I'm all for it. People have got a right to live. They don't have a right
to stand in line for an hour going home from work, supposing that was you?
D-If you lived in the Cape it would be.
B-I can't understand it. Illogical. They thought about building it down
south. There's only a few houses there, you could run an interstate
through a few houses.
D-Did you ever have any dealings with GAC after they took over?
B-Not really. I never met, the guy who's still in Miami. Oh, and he
asked me to meet Connie Mack, Leonard did. Cause he knew the business.
He's says there is a well-known name in the town that might be known
nationwide in the U.S. The only one that I can think of is Connie Mack.
So he hired him.
D-That's the connection between Rosen and Connie Mack? You kind of suggested
that to him?
B-Yes. I suggested that to Leonard. I guess that's why, one the reasons,
now he might have checked with some other people, I don't knov. But it
used to upset them.
D-Tell me a little bit more about Connie Mack. 1What kind of a guy was he?
B-He was a nice guy. He and I were close friends and then we fell out a
couple years ago. First time I've had a falling out, maybe this is number
tow in forty years. But he's a nice guy, honest completely. I did a little,
I raised my volume a little about your dad. You know Connie wanted to be
a little thought on him. 1We almost got in a fight. 1We got in a verbal
deal with him in there once or twice. But, anyway, he was a fine fellow
and his family was great kids. The Congressman was fine, upstanding with
the mother so great. Connie just, do you Nwnt me to be frank? I mean
this won't get out. YOu can have it, I just didn't wunt to tell too
many. I've told others. KD)st people don't even know that we've had a
falling out. Connie has got a terrible temper. He would just fly off for
no reason. YOu know, he did it to me. We went together to the U.S. Open
Golf Tournament. Football games.
D-Was this Connie, Jr. or the Congressman?
B-Connie, Jr. The Congressman is the third I think. The old mand is number
one I think. So, there would be spurts. I can think of about four of
them. You know, in 25 years, well that's quite well dispersed, 35 years
I mean. I just had enough. I mean, I never got upset with him. He had
certain features. 'When he was young, his dad gave him boxing lessons, you
could tell. And he thought he had a great right. Who cares? But Connie
wasn't a business brain. And he wasn't interested in business at all.
Have you ever read time magazine? I just got tired of it. We were at
the Open in Pittsburgh, Golf. He came in mad into the room, intoxicated.
He was just mad and said "I'm leaving." And I says, "O.K. Bye bye."
You want to call a cab to the airport, it's got to be thirty miles. Then
he came.... And stupid me. I drove that car by myself which isn't exact-
ly fun about 1300 miles home instead of having a relief driver. The only
time he ever told me he was sorry. But stupid me, I asked him, what were
you mad at? You Imow, I'm just curious.
D--Never did find out?
B--No. You know, that makes me inadequate in a third way. But he's a
classy guy. He's certainly not an intellectual. Not brilliant. You
wouldn't have him around on somewhat of in intricate business venture.
D--I understand that the main reason that they bought Connie in vas to add
D--Yes. You shouldn't even have to go to work. They weren't paying him
big money. ?Iaybe 30,000. WTell, you shoudln've stayed home in bed and
they could've paid you that. Just to use your name on all their ads.
So, he was over there in customer relations trying to sooth them when
they wanted their money back, somebody had woringed them.
D--Anything else you can remember about Gulf or Cape Coral?
B--Well, as far as anybody had told you, Leonard went out to Nevada and
opened a big deal out there.
D--When did that start? Do you remember?
B--Oh, he died about nine months ago. But he tried to keep a balance. I've
read stories on him. Hell, he's out there with no water, selling these
D-I heard that they had sold something like 20,000 lots.
B--A lot of them, and the way they could sell those people out there where
there no water, no soil. But I don't see how a guy could, at least he
had his substance here was solid. But certainly not, to get water you
drill a well.
D--Some people said that if Gulf had stuck with Cape Coral and only sold
Cape Coral and not got into Golden Gate and all the rest of them they
would have done a lot better. What do you think about that?
B--I don't know, because I know they had monstrous drainage problems.
Golden Gate, big canals. We all thought it was just low but they were
building it on swamp. Of course, it wasn't all swamp. That might have
been so. They sold a lot of lots down there. You know, that's turning
out. I'd say the middle income people in Naples. Hell, they are all
right there building houses on 10-12,000 dollar lots. So, it's turned
out to be a blessing. If they hadn't fouled up the water. I wouldn't
say that I agree. Oh, kind of I Imew this guy Rosen was doing
with. Ie'd put her to work. She didn't sit home. VWhirling personality,
charming gal. She was a good friend of my ex-wife. Back in '58 or '59.
She moved here and then met him and he became an and he was
a lot of fun. Patty Adams. She is married and living in Manhatten now.
But he furnished her apartment. We were over there in North I\iami up near
the broad causeway on 125th Street EAst. Fairly nice apartments there.
Biscayne is right there. And she started dating this guy that was
Ily good friend from Orlando by the name of Tom Cassel got along very well.
He'd come down and visit. He was looking for a reason to come down. iHe
was in the radio business., had a number of radio stations around the
state. And we thought we were going to open a drugstore. It was our
first thought, because they needed a drugstore in town. And Tom said
he could fly down. He flew his own plane down once a week and we'd
play golf and he could write it off. In those days I guess you could.
But anyway, he and Dick hit it off very good. And Tom bought the Breeze
from Dick Crawford and then Dick stayed on as editor and publisher.
D--Do you know how much he paid for it? Any idea?
B--I know exactly, but I don't think I want to.
B--Because, then Tom and I had an agreement at any time I wanted to buy
fifty percent of his newspaper I could do it for a dollar. And Tom
passed away in '67 and I got the paper.Not for a 'dollar I bought the
whole thing and Dick stayed on and published the paper for me. VThen
we sold the paper, before that I sold back to Dick a percentage of it,
and then when we sold it to Ogden Nutting of the newspaper chain in
iEst Virginia, we both severed our relationship. Took our money and
ran, so to sp-ea. But Dick was a very fine, retired colonel, honest
as the day is long amd integrity. Hie was just what was needed in this
town to write the editorials. He didn't feel that he had to cover un
things or rmake salt of them. If something was Trong, Dic:: Crawford
said it .was wrong. If it was right, he said it was right. ice always
got along, very well. I thought, anyway. I migrht've pushed him- too
fast sometimes. Le wont twice a week and then three times a week and
we built our o.n building and enlarged the building. To give Dic: his
due, he served in the army and he was ready to retire and I wasn't. So,
there was sometimes miffs we had to get over. By and large I consider
Dick a good friend of mine.
working for me. And he got mad and upset. She realized that was a dead
end street, finally. And she's a gal who could charm anyone. You know,
nice smile and gaze in her facials but not overdoing.it. He just came in
there and through his door. And we went over and she sayd come by. We
had been to the track. We went by here house. And he stripped all the
furniture out of it. It didn't bother her. She said, "If he thinks it's
going to upset me, he's got another think coming." He left a chair here
or there and he left one bed in a two bedroom thing. He was getting even.
She had been involved with him for four or five years and donw a good job
on the road for him. My best buddy he died about five years ago, a guy
name Bill Carmine.
D-WVhat, he just didn't like the personality, he didn't like the way they did
B-Yes, I hink, maybe a certain amount of duplicity. He just didn't feel
proud of being with that organization. But he and Connie they really
didn't like him. O course, Connie is more of a I think Bill
enjoyed his privacy. But just disappointed, and I don't know what Leonard's
action was. We would go over their, my present wife and see him a lot.
lie wanted 500,000. They paid him.
D--That's right. I remember reading something about that.
B--Do you want me tell you?
B--His office was just next to mine. Vell, we got married the second time,
together. Then he left them he was looking for the original. Now, he
stored a bunch of files in Miami and my office in the excess room. In
Cape Coral we used to keep a general office over there. I had a deal
that I got the going rate or fifty percent of the going rate or all title
policies to be written. VWhat are we talking about? Forty thousand lots
maybe. In CApe Coral, now and the future. I had it signed by Leonard
Rosen to Bill Carmine. He couldn't find it. And he went to my office
over there. He said, "Maybe it's over there." He couldn't ever find
the original but he found a duplicate. And they sued one on the dupli-
cate with no signature. I didn't know you could do that. He had evident-
ly, the father, maybe that he had written those policies all along had
been paid. But they never asked for it. They just admitted it.
D-They never did?
B-No, they paid him cash. 500,000. Of course, they gave his attornies
some of it.
B--But I'll tell you, those kind of people, I have been around them much
because I've always been exposed to like you dad, who was a different
class of people, maybe fortunately. But it would be interesting to
follow them around for six months to see how they operate.
D---ell, listen I'm going to have to get going. Thank you. I appreciate
it. I'll tell you, I learned a lot.