Title: Interview with William Reynolds (December 14, 1987)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006587/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with William Reynolds (December 14, 1987)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: December 14, 1987
Spatial Coverage: 12071
Lee County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006587
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LEE 36

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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

of thing.

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

them built.

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.

D-Lee Ratner?

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

wanted it.

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

the respectibility.

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.

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