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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
D-This is an interview with Soloman Sandler in his home in Hollywood, FL.
The date is Feb. 16, 1988, and the interviewer is David Dodrill.
Sol, tell me a little bit about yourself. Let's start with your full
name and when and where you were born.
S-My name is Solomon Sandler, they call me Sol. I was born in Maryland in
1919. Graduated from the University of Maryland, went into the service
in the Navy for five years. After the Navy, went to work with the family
and started in the weekend furniture business and then went into the
cosmetic business, again with the --- for a period of about 10 years,
and then came to Florida to work with Gulf AfMerican Land Corporation.
At Gulf American I was a corporate officer, vice president in the ad-
ministrative part of the company. I handled inside operations. Watched
the finances and became involved in all the subsidiaries of the company.
D-Let's back up a little bit. Before you came, to work with Gulf American
here in Florida, and you said you were married to?
S--Lenny and Jack Rosen's sister, Sylvian.
D-So you say you married into the family. Explain a little bit about that.
S--Well, it was a very, very unusual family, very close. And a very tight
family. The kids were very close, five children. ITy children and
Leonard's children and Jack's children all grew up very very close. I've
been a part of that family since I married into it. It's a very, very
close family. Very strong. It was a very unusual family.
D--Refresh my memory. Who was the mother?
S--The mother was Fannie Rosen. Their father when he was 32 years old. He
was from waht a hear, a self-made millionaire three times and lost it each
time. In the movie theatre business and he owned several movie theatres
in Baltimore. And very successful but then he would get very enterprising
and he died at 32 years old. He was out in Chicago trying to raise money,
and he was run over by a streetcar that night. Very unusual death. The
mother supported the family. She owned a little grocery store in Baltimore.
D--Who was that?
S--Paul Venzi, plus there were a couple others that I think she raised at
the same time. She was quite a person. She was the chairlady of various
organizations, but very charitably inclined. The family basically until
the later years was poor. But they all worked hard and became successful.
The oldest daughter Edith died at a very early age, from cancer. Later in
life, as they became successful, Leonard's wife, Dorothy started up an
organization in Baltimore called the Edith Rosen Strauss Organization.
Started it up with friends and family. Today it's still very active, and
it's provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in cancer aid for children.
Dorothy Rosen, Leonard's wife, was the primary motivator alown with my wife,
Sylvia. And the organization's still going. It's called the Edith Rosen
Strauss Organization. They raise considerable sums of money for cancer aid
for children. This is when it wasn't considered fashionable. I remember
when Edith died. It was back in the 40's.
D--Tell me a little bit more about Leonard and Jack and their early business careers.
S--When I first met Jack he had his own trucks and was delivering furniture.
Leonard, when they decided to open this furniture business for them selves
in Baltimore, Leonard and Jack were both very active in it. Leonard
went into other things himself, and Jack stayed and ran this business.
It was called the Rosen Home Equipment Company. Leonard meanwhile got
involved in other things. Making Kitchen cabinets. At one time, he was
involved with something else in Virginia, as Mall City. That Eleanor
Roosevelt had started. I think he did, I'm not sure of the name, Hopewell?
It started as a WPA project by Elanor Roosevelt back in the thirties. And
they went. Leonard went over recruiting. I don't remember what happened.
Anyway, I just went through is. In the early fifties, Jack had a great
idea, that possibly they could sell products on T.V. And they had been
selling lanolin. I remember something like that. And I was with him
D--Was there one particular thing or one aspect that you really could tell
why the company was so successful?
S--Jack said to be successful in business you need two things. Desire, direction.
They had the desire to be successful and they took a direction. But they
had a desire to be successful. Both of these people were selfeducated.
They, whatever, they learned, they learned not in schools. Jack, I think,
eventually took a part-time course in college. I know Leonard didn't
finish high school. Jack may have. I don't know. They were self-made
people. They started at the bottom. When I met Jack he had his won truck
delivering furniture. I had just started college myself. And Leonard
was on the road. Look at the way they started out in life. Their
father died. Their mother was penniless. She had a grocery store and was
raising a family. My father worked in a grocery store. This is the
American story. This is true. To me, they knew nothing to the rest of
the world. Write a book on these guys. What you can do in this country.
I'm not getting carried away with this stuff. Not that they did every-
thing perfectly. They had their shortcomings just like everybody else.
This is what could happen to somebody in this country.
D--Bernice Freiberg. Was she back in that time period?
S--Bernice Freiberg's mother and Fannie Rosen were girlfriends. And Bernice
Freiberg's mother played some part in the raising of them during the period
of time that the mother was in Philadelphia or Chicago with the husband.
They were the best of friends.
D--What was Leonard's and Jack's father's name?
S--Abraham. The families were close. And Bernice came to work for Leonard
as his secretary. She was a very bright woman.
D--It was very enjoyable talking to her.
S--She worked with Leonard. She worked with him at Antel and also she
worked with him here.
in New York when he had a great idea. And he called Leonard. And he
wanted to sell hair products.
D--So, up to that time Leonard and Jack really had not been working...
S--They had been in the same city. But Leonard had started with the
furniture manufacturing business and Jack had been in the installment
business. They were very close to each other. Leonard played department
manager of the installment business, but Jack and Dorothy actually ran it.
I worked with it as did Paul Venzi. Anyway, they, along with some other
friends, owned Charles Antel, that was the name of the company. Charles
Antel was originally a mail order company. It was on T.V., but you had to
write in. You couldn't just buy products. In the last year, they went
from city to city. With shampoo and what they called Formula 9 made of
lanolin and other products. That became a pretty good size business at that
time. And Gulf American sort of came out of that. We had always instructed
out salesmen to keep their ears open for anything that sounded good, on radio
or television. I was, at that time, the vice president or whatever it was.
Leonard handled all of the advertising. There was a company called Televis-
ion Advertising Associates, TAA. Along with Bernice, they handled the
advertising. Jack was in marketing, production. I was the administrator.
Somewhere along the way I got a call from one of our salesmen in Chicago.
He heard a great program. Somebody was selling land in Florida. At that
time there was a program. He was going to get ahold of one. This was
almost a film of a T.V. broadcast. This was done and the show was going and
you used that. Now they take them. At that time they did a movie. So
Leonard got a kinescope of a commercial that he heard. And we watched it
play. And it was a sales pitch on Lehigh Acres. Which sounded very good.
It could be that we knew the people involved. I think it was Lee Ratner.
And it sounded good to Leonard and Jack and the people. And we felt that we
could do the same thing. So at first you have to have land.
D-Now, this was before Leonard had been to Florida?
S-He had already been to Flordia, but it was basically as visitors. The
concept was that if you could sell you could then deliver the product.
So, we were :negotiatingthe sale of Charles Antel. And the reason they
were negotiating' Charles Antel is that they could not buck the major
cosmetic businesses, primarily Revlon. They could not, they did not have
the finance to compete with major companies. Going public was such a new
thing, unless you had the money you could not do it. ANd basically he
had thought it was successful and could not really generate funds to ex-
pand the business. So they were negotiating the sale of the company. And
then what were they going to do? But you first have to have land. Leo
nard got me one week-end. We wanted to try it. Leonard would set up a
brokerage and we would go down there and buy something in Florida. A
flew to this place called Deland, Florida. It was a little, this had to
be in 1959. r.aybe '58. I flew down to Deland, Florida. And he showed me the
land about 1/2 miles from lake 8 & I bought the acres in Deland. With that we could
then test if we could sell a product. And I think they did. Leonard did a half hour
sales pitch on land in Florida and the response was great. So we just
wrote everybody and said that we were oversold, which we were. And he
went to refine this and he did a really refined version of this. Now,
that time Charles Antel was sold and Leonard cane into Florida
with the idea of buying a big piece of land,to do this with.
D--Do you have any idea how much money you got for Antel?
S--I would say in the one million dollar range.
D-You were talking about how they sold Antel.
S--We had been to Florida previously to a place in Clearwater or Safety
Harbour, Safety Harbour Spa. Leonard had a bad case of arthritis & he had been
there before. It helped him. So he came down with his wife to Safety
SD--Where is that?
S--It's Clearwater. It's on the west coast. So he came down there to help
'himself and also to look for land. Somewhere along the way he met someone
called Milt Mendelson. And I think with Milt's help he came up with land
near Ft. Myers and it was exactly 2100 acres of land. Which he bought.
He bought the land with money he raised by selling participating interest
to friends and people in Baltimore. They would own so much of the company
and they would invest so much in company stock. With that money he bought
the land and set up an operation in Florida.
D--People investing this money, were they investing in a particular invest-
S--No. They were investing in a company called Gulf American Land Company.
They would loan a certain amount and they would use it. At that point
Leonard moved to Florida. He took along certain key people of various
escelons. And, of corse, he hired a lot of people down here. That was
in '59, maybe late '58. I've been trying to think of people that he brought
down. He brought down a bookkeper. Of course, he used the same accountants
and attorney that he'd been using in Baltimore all along. Bernie Herzfeld
and George Landan came down. They were more or less corporate advisors
D--They were accountants?
S--George CPA from Baltimore. Berni was the attorney in Baltimore.
Of course Jack was going back and forth. I came down with the company.
I was with Antel. Antel was sold, I remained with Antel until the keys
were turned over to B.T. Babbit. My secretary and myself stood there and
everybody else left. Jack stayed in Baltimore. He opened up the market-
ing office in Baltimore. He did not come down. Leonard came down. I
came down in 1959. When I came down the office was at 5420 Biscayne Blvd.
It was in a little strip shopping center. It was two stories business
was already in operation. There were two other people in there with the
In the accounting was the Catherine Harbon that had worked for us in Baltimore.
My function was administrative and I more or less ran the office. In so far
as the administrative part.
D--That's the Miami office?
S--Which was the headquarters. The marketing handled work was by Jack in Baltimore
until such time as he moved down here. Jack controlled all of the marketing
and salespeople. We had Florida sales offices which more or less came under
Leonard. But the national marketing program was run by Jack, who I think
was one of the most brilliant marketing people that this country has ever seen.
D--Tell me why you think that.
S--The marketing idea of Charles Antel was Jack's. The sales force, the
creative part of the marketing was dreamed up by Jack. Not that Leonard
didn't participate, but the basic ideas came from Jack. Back at Antel he
handled the sales force. He handled the production aspect, too. But that
was del .gated. The work that Jack delegated. But Jack handled the national
sales force of Charles Antel, in marketing and promotion. Leonard handled
the advertising part of it. He did the packaging. Both mail order wise
and over the counter. The sales force reported to Jack. Thought they did
talk constantly together. Leonard controlled the advertising. However, Jack
played an active part in the creative part of the advertising. In GAC, the
same thing. Jack handled the marketing aspect. The sales force, he hired,
he fired, he trained. He set up the creative part of the marketing and
sales. Leonard controlled, in GAC, the financial part. Because the office
was here he also directly handled the administrative part. When I came to
Florida I took over the administrative part of the company. Leonard was
active in the financial aspect. Raising the money, looking over the money.
Jack, in Baltimore, handled the marketing aspect, with whoever else was involved
in the national sales force in Baltimore. Jack was quiet because everyone
knew Leonard and they were a fantastic combination. But Jack quietly did
all the marketing aspects. he also participated in the more creative aspects
of the advertising. So they were an unusual pair together.
D--Tell me a little bit more about your role.
S--My role in Gulf American was pretty much the same as it was in Antel. I
was the administrative. I helped set up the system, I supervised the
offices locally, both the main office and the outside offices. But never
in the marketing. I did participate in the marketing meetings but more as
it related to the controls and the money costs and things such as that. I
got involved in all the subsidiaries of the company. I was the president
of Congress International. For example, when they started Cape Coral
Construction, I was the senior vice-president of Congress International.
When they bought Modern Air, I was moved around whever they needed some-
body to supervise, run or watch, this was where I would go. During this
time I was the director of the parent company. I guess I held more titles
than anyone in the company. I was moved around as they needed.
D--So you would go in there and just make sure the operations were run properly?
S--And watch. And coordinated it with the other aspects. In other words, at
Cape Coral Construction I would coordinate sales people with head offices
as to the money, as to the needs of the various operations. With Congress,
which was a franchised operation of motek, I, of course we had several of
our own operations, coordinated those again with the main offices as to their
needs. And kept them informed as to what was going on in the other aspects
of it. I also discussed very early with them what I was doing. If an
operation was not up to par, we spoke and we got rid of a lot of them
because they not what we wanted them to be.
D--In other words, you had certain motels around the country...
S--They were not the greatest. i would consult with the people involved. I
was more or less a coordinator for a lot of aspects of the business. At
Modern Air, I was in there as vice president and I worked with the presi-
dent in trying to run the company. And made sure that things were the
best that I could make them, keeping people intermed. We had coordinated
with Modern Air the flights, Gulf American flights. Though they did other
charter work for the government. They had the right to fly anywhere in
the country. It was originally bought to handle the Gulf flights. Also, some
charter flights, which were from the military air command. And they did
flights for various travel agencies. The big things though was Gulf American
flights. They did more flights out of Sious Falls and Sious City to Florida
than anybody in the country. And wherever else they had the range.
D--So, was Gulf American business the biggest part of Modern Air's...?
S--It was the biggest.
D--What were some of the other companies that they owned?
S--Of course, they owned the utility companies in Cape Coral and Cape Coral
Construction. Cape Coral Construction was not the primary builder. Art
Rutenbery & Butch Duffala were the primary builders at Cape Coral. Home
builder. They had their own development company under Tom Weber. There
was a hell of a lot of them.
D--I know they had an insurance company.
S--They Stuyesant Insurance, which was a credit life company. It was the people
who bought land and the average policy they would have their land paid for.
They owned Congress. There was a lot more companies. But their biggest
thing was Modern Air.
D--Why would they buy these other companies? Was it to diversify?
S--More so to cater to people. All of these were catered to the land sales
business. One thing or another, they served the land sales business.
Construction company, airline company, the insurance company, the motels.
Of course, the Nautilus in Cape Coral became a Congress motel. They would
develop these properties. Congress was not very successful. They bought a
lot of properties. But the only things that they bought were basically to
get them more land sales for development. Cities were quicker.
D--One attempted purchase of the company that I didn't' really understand that
I read about a little bit was called Fenestra.
S--Fenestra was born for the primary purpose of, Fenestra is on the New York
Stock Exchange. That was bought so the company could merge with Fenestra
and appear on the New York Stock Exchange. Plus Fenestra had a lot of cash.
That was the basic reason. The purpose was to get the company on the New York
Stock Excahnge. That was the purpose.
D--Well, that makes sense.
S--But the purpose, well they had cash, number two, to put it on the NYSE. The
business was a cash eating up business. There was always a big cash deficit.
When you made a sale you went in the hole, cash-wise. That was one of the
big problems. Constantly at Gulf. Leonard, he was great at his ability to
raise cash that's what it needed.
D--What were some of the sources of cash? The banks?
S--Few banks. Primarily they were big finance companies and individuals who
had a lot of money who would get a little higher rate of return on their money.
And of course they took receivables as collateral. They were wealthy people
or big companies who had a lot of money and could get a high rate of return.
D--Who would organize most of that?
S--Leonard would do that.
D--Was it just Leonard personally or who else in the corporation?
S--Gee, I really don't remember. But Leonard was the big motivator, mover.
He would find people. I guess as you developed one you would find another.
Because there were people in that business, financing receivables.
D--Did they ever try and get funds through bond issues?
S--No, they didn't until they went public. When they went public, of course
they raised money. The big problem in that business was money.
D--Was there ever a concern that they were spending so much money on adver-
tising and promotion that they were almost eating up their profit?
S--I don't think.that was the question. I think they were eating up their
cash. They were working very closely with cash. The profit was there.
They would allocate a certain amount for engineering, promotion, & marketing.
I don't think it was a question of eating up their profit, I think it was
a question of whether they could pay their bills. That was their big problem
D--You said you were in the administrative side of things.
S--The office grew so quickly that they then took over space at 81st and Biscayne.
Big office space. They didn't rent any of that out. They moved in and they
took up the whole space. And they grew quickly and they wanted to get
their own office space. At 81st and Biscayne they went into computers, and
theytook over a very large office space. And they kept taking over more of
the second floor. The whole shopping center. Then there was, they bought a
Howard Johnson's. This was at 79th and Biscayne. They bought the Howard
Johnson's, tore it down and they built a lovely eleven story office building
on the site. Again, they figured they would need 3 floors of that. They would
rent out the rest of the stories. When they moved in there we took over the
whole 11 floors. Today it's part of the customs or U.S. Department of Natur-
alization. I don't know what is is now. After we moved in, we took over the
whole eleven floors. One of the floors, incidently, Leonard and Jack became
interested in art at that time. And both of them bought a lot of art, and
they made the third floor into an art museum, open to the public. A lot of
good art. Things were going great so they made a museum there on that third
D--Was the collection of art more for their personal enjoyment?
S--Well, it started off for personal enjoyment, but then it became a public
thing and they opened it up. They did several things. For example, when
we moved into that building the first floor was all computers. The computer
thing, they used it for election purposes. They did a lot of things with the
computers other than run the company. They used it for various charity fund-
raising things. Every election, the computers were turned over to the public
and T.V. stations and the results came from the GAC building using our computers.
By the way, Leonard and Jack were very, very charity oriented.
The company computers were used for fund-raising. For their personal
charities, and for United Fund and all. All the companies employees
worked down there. We did the fund-raising. We were one of the first
companies in south Florida. And this was my idea. But at Christmas we
took over the children's ward at a hospital. The company donated money
for the gifts and the employees went down there and we used to work at
Christmas time for the various hospitals. I was going down to the hospital
for the first time and one of the fellows, Gordon, who was a great guy,
dressed up as Santa Claus and we used to work at the hospital. But with
the WATTS lines there you could work for the various charities. Jack and
Leonard had certain personal charities. What was the next question?
D-- The administration.
S--My function basically was administration wherever they needed somebody.
That's where I would go. I would help coordinate. I did a lot of travel-
ing back and forth to Cape Coral and Naples. It worked with my schedule
that you could waste a day flying. We had a way of flying back and forth
for myself. Modern had its own fleet of airplanes. The pilot, Joe Gibson,
was the one that taught me how to fly. John Rogers, he was the head pilot
over there. The Cessna 310, and a half a dozen Cessna 172's. We could
bring 5 people over to see the property. But the first flight over there
was Cape Coral Blvd., which was a one lane highway. We used to have a
guard to stop traffic so they could land the plane on Cape Coral Blvd. One
land street. The tow tripleses that the company built on Cape Coral Blvd.
The plane was used to fly people over to the property. So while the
plane was coming in, he would buzz the property. They would put a guard at
each end of the boulevard. We used to have meetings at the property. But
we'd find because of the telephone, we'd be interrupted constantly. So,
what we would do, we would use Wally Pearson's boat and meet. And they
would meet in Sanibel. We would drive to Sanibel and we'd cruise back
and forth and have our meeting uninterrupted. Now, they would
meet us, one of the planes which would fly over and drop a bottle
in the water. We'd pick up the bottle and we would be at Sanible,
which had one telephone at that time. Whoever was needed would go
to the phone to call and find out who needed who and why. That was when
Sanibel was only a ferry boat ride with one telephone. Early '60's.
You'd pack a lunch and go on there. I'm trying to think of the original
people. Harry Hirsch, who has since died, Kenny Schwartz was the first
person to live at tha property. I'm trying to think of the
original... Of course, Kenny was the original who was our president
or mayor, our p.r. person there, in charge of sales. He got
involved in everything in Cape Coral. I think Butch Duffala was
the first builder there. And then Rutenberg came in and we of course
developed our own. That's when we had brokers all over the country.
And Ed Pacelli was probably number two in the hieracy, basically.
Denny and Ed were both vice presidents of the company in marketing.
Ed was in Ft. Myers. Ed was primarily the person who supervised
outer brokers throughout the country. He travelled quit a bit.
He and Kenny shared the marketing responsibilities under Jack's direction.
Eddie was the jack-of-all trades. He was kind of Jack's right-hand
man. He was Jack's troubleshooter. And took care of all the outside
sales problems for Jack. Kenny was more or less the property manager,
so to speak. Very much involved with marketing at the property. Again,
he along with Eddie took care of the outside sales people. They were
just right for each other. Bob Finkernagel cane in as the p.r. in
charge of public relations at the Cape. And he became more and more
things. But he was more the public relations department. And, again,
a trouble shooter at the properties. Gulf American was one of the
original promoters of the land sales department of the state.
It's funny how it really started. Because of various problems, and we
were part of the problems, you have Lehigh and Deltona and this and that
and you had a lot of people going into the land sales business. I
became friends with Ralph Smathers who was in charge of the Better
Business Bureau here in Miami. He had a problem because he would call
me and I would take care of the problem. As the land business grew in
Florida, the problems grew. It was Gulf American, it was Port Charlotte.
We had a meeting of which I was one of the participants, General Develop-
ment and a couple of the other smaller developments like Lehigh. And
we each contributed money to the Better Business Bureau. Trying to
self-regulate oursleves. That helped but it didn't solve the problem.
At that point, Ralph Smathers and myself and a couple of people in this
volunteer group went to Tallahassee and spoke to the Department of
Regulations. We gave to the Better Business Bureau some money to help
a self-regulating body. We tried to control our people. We did.
We would try to watch them closely. We would monitor them. We did
certain things to make sure. It's just that you can't watch everybody
all the time and we had a lot of people. We worked with Wackenhut, a
small company. We would have them pose as buyers and go with our
people. We were running from Miami to the property. We would have
them pose as buyers and they would come back and give us a written
report which would result in a lot of problems. We'd have people call
in from some of our local sales offices. And we would monitor. We told
the people we were doing it, but we didn't tell them we were doing it.
D--So the Wackenhut people, would they report back to you?
S--They would report to me. They would give me a written report of the trip.
D--And you would let Leonard and Jack know? How long was that going on?
Was that going on all the way through?
S--No. When your business is small you don't have problems. When your
business gets big you start having problems. I would say about the
middle of the sixties the company really started to go to hell. We would
hire people and it got to be a problem with everybody. We were the
biggest. We took a lot of heat. Some of it was deserved.
D--Did the company, Gulf American have a lot of competition from the other
companies like General Development and stuff like that or were they
pretty much just doing their own thing?
S--The competition never bothered anybody at Gulf American. We came to
Florida and General development was like number one. They had
started this thing. They were the original with Deltona. The Mackles
were the original owners with Deltona. We were like number three and
we were growing. We were the innovators in marketing in that business.
We started the parties, the house parties. We did a lot of things that
were real innovative. But the competition never bothered Leonard and
Jack. They did their own thing. They didn't look at what the other
companies--yes, they looked at what the other companies were doing sales
wise. At least I felt they were never bothered by the competition.
They innovated a lot of their ideas, especially in marketing. They
had a lot of good people, like Pacelli and Kenny. A couple people who
worked out of Baltimore with jack, John Chinelly, who was fantastic.
He worked covering the various marketing areas. John Chinelly worked
very very close with Jack. he was a great motivator of people. Jack
used to call him Father John because he loved his church. he was the guy
who would get you in a meeting and really, really get you all gassed up.
John Chinnelly is alive in Florida. He is now a deacon in the Catholic
Church. When the company was sold he left the company and opened up
several real estate offices in Hollywood, Florida. Then he turned them
over to his son and he went into seminary and became a deacon. Back
in the sixties we called him Father John. Now I call him Deacon John.
He was a little under the level of Ed and Ken. He worked with the Jack.
He travelled the country, in sales to various parties, around the country
with Jack. And he loved Jack like a father. They were the same age.
Jack had Ed and Ken and John Chinelly. More so, Eddie and Ken. He
worked with very very close to them and they would do whatever he
said and he would do whatever they wanted. And that was the relation-
ship. That relationship was that close with everybody, of his key people.
Whenever there was a happy occasion or a sad occasion, they were there.
D--That was for Jack or that was for Leonard too?
S--Leonard too. They had a family. They had a big family. They really
loved their people. Very, very unusual people. I say that not because
they are part of my family. But because this is the way they lived
D--That's the impression that live gotten by talking to other people too.
S--Once you came with them, you were part of their family. They did things
quietly. They supported people quietly, if something happened they
were very quiet. Ex-employees, etc. They've supported for years
and years. And Leonard was doing it until the day that he died.
And so was Jack.
D--So there was more to them than just the image of ruthless money makers?
S--They were, not that they weren't aggressive people in their lives, Leonard
more so though than Jack. But there was the side of them that was so
family oriented, so charity-oriented, so community-oriented people never
knew, really. They had the veneers about them. Leonard would cry
like a baby if something happened.
D--What do you mean?
S--If somebody got sick or somebody was hurt or somebody died who he was
close to, he would, I'll tell you. Leonard, this goes back to three
or four years ago. Bob Granger, who used to work with Leonard, died.
Leonard flew from Las Vegas to Florida rented a car, and Bob was buried
in the state somewhere.
D--Who was Bob Granger?
S--Bob worked for Leonard. He was involved in something overseas.
Almost like an engineer, but he wasn't an engineer. He did special
projects for Leonard. He lived here and did several things. And he
really was not that, he was a friend of Leonard's but he was not really
a close as Pacelli was. Leonard flew from Vegas to Miami and he cried.
This was about five or six years ago. He had a heart that nobody saw.
As with Jack. All they knew was the fact that Leonard said he could
sell anything to anybody. Leonard was his own worst enemy insofaras
what he said. He would just say what he felt. Sometimes it was detriment.
D--What was the biggest difference between Leonard and Jack?
S--Well, Leonard was in the front and Jack sat in the background. Jack
preferred the background. And I guess Leonard preferred to be upfront
with epople. Leonard was always there with a joke or whatever and Jack
just worked at it. I mean, they complemented each other. Jack was a
marketing genius, Leonard was a business genius. And they put it
together. They really did a hell of a job for a lot of people and a
hell of a job for the state. All the people in the state, this is what
they know, what the Miami Herald printed and I guess what the governor
said, they made a lot of mistakes. They did them in their
aggressiveness, but they did it and tried to correct it.
D--Do you feel there was real honest effort to correct?
D--In other words, if people felt they were misrepresented or what ever,
that would have been...?
S--They sold a dream basically. And I guess the best case is that, like
Eileen Bernard said in Lies that Came True, they really felt that they
were going to build a city at Cape Coral. They really felt that. I've
know these people for a lot of years. They honestly felt that they were
going to build a city. And to prove it, they did it. They were a little
late in some of their promises, but they kept their promises. As they
grew, they felt they could do it everywhere they went. It was more
difficult to do. But their showcase really was Cape Coral. They didn't
realize how much each step would be harder to deliver. I think Cape
Coral is something everyone should be proud of. Of course, Golden Gate,
they had some problems there. They recognized their problems.
D--Do you think that the philosophy was different with Golden gate and
Remuda and stuff like that?
S--Only to the extent of the marketing part. They had to market it different-
ly over there because of the land and the way it was situated. But they
really felt they could build two different cities at Golden Gate. And
Remuda was, I understand, I wasn't there at Remuda. What I understand
is that they really got carried away with themselves. This was a dream
that they thought they could do and they just couldn't do it.
D--They really didn't believe that they were going to build a city at
Remuda, they just sold it as hunting?
S--A hunting, fishing, recreational campsite. The same with River Ranch.
They weren't going to build a city at River Ranch. It was going to be
a hunting, fishing for the outdoor people. This would be different
concept. River Ranch was the same way.
D-.-re you involved in anything with Rio Rico?
S--There again, I was primarily out with the airline. But that was going
to be a combination city and recreational area like Oddenbate. My
brother worked with Jack originally. He moved to Tucson.
D--What's his name?
S--Ronald Sandler. He's still out there, he loved it so much. In fact,
his son today is working for Rio Rico.
D--Rio Rico has finally made it?
S--Avatar reopened it and now Ronny's out there, second in charge of sales.
they are now selling land in Rio Rico again.
D--Are there people living there?
S--Yes. I was out there. It's about a couple thousand. My nephew is out
there working for Avitar. My brother loved it so much, he moved out
there. He went out there and worked with Jack in Baltimore. He was an
attorney, worked for the company. He moved out there to work with the
property. It's beautiful. They had a Sheraton there, which was the
companies. They have people living there. My nephew lives there and
he works there. That was my extent in the office. Rio Rico is a beau-
D--I've read somewhere that the company owned a lot of lard out in the
British Honduras. Whatever became of that?
S--I don't know. They were trying to sell it. I'll tell you something
funny about that. The idea originally was to make some kind of resort
there that anybody who owned land could use. There was a lot of land
bought. And one day, I had gotten a letter from somebody from Belize.
Saying he's had a chicle for years. It was the same for me. We got
a check for like 22 dollars and 16 or 18 cents. They were taking chicle
out of the trees over there?
S--It's the stuff you use for chicklets chewing gum, out of the trees.
D--They were taking Chicle out of the trees there?
S--It was loaded with Mahogany trees. And a lot were on the oceanfront.
A lot of waterfront land was there. Leonard had bought thousands
of acres of land. But they were ridiculous prices.
D--We're going to switch around back to the Miami office. What's the 11
story building for? You said one floor was for the art gallery?
S--The bottom floor was for computers. A man named Elton Davis ran the
computers. The rest of it was administrative offices basically. Of
course the pent house was Leonard and Jack's and the senior account
executives and conference rooms.
D--Were the phone rooms over there too?
S--The phone rooms were there, but then we also had a couple of sales
offices in Miami. We had one in Miami Shores. It was a sales office.
It had phone rooms. We had an office on the beach, a sales office. The
phone roome, as I recollect, were in the main building.
D--How big would the phone rooms be? Are we talking about 10 phones,
S--I would 10 or 20 phones.
D--Were they pretty much manned all the time?
S--They were manned especially in the evenings when they could reach people.
I remember the original phone set up was at the 54th and Biscayne. A
couple phonerooms were there. And at the 81st and Biscayne we had some
D--You said that Gulf American had a tremendous impact on Florida, tell me
a little bit about that.
S--These are things I generated myself. taking a number and a record of the
people that had visited the property. The people that we flew in, the
people that drove in to look at the property. People that visited
from out of state, the payroll of the people here. What we did, we
purchased here in the company itself. I once sat down and got some
figures from the state as to what each person coming into the state of
Florida by car spends in Florida. I gto a figure a lot of the people
who fly in just for the purpose of seeing the company's properties. And
coming in, what they spend and I developed these figures, knowing what
our payroll was for a period of time and what we purchased in paper
and toilet paper and all these things. And I would say in the early
sixties, in a period of four or five years, we had either caused to
be spent or spent ourselves. In the 200 million dollar range. Of
course I developed them once I didn't follow through on those numbers.
But I knew what we had spent ourselves. Knowing that we had people
comingto the property by car and how many flew in and what the average
spent. I developed these figures and it was a 200 and some million
number. I don't remember what year I did it in.
D--That was just one year?
S--That was over a period of years. I don't remember when, but it was a
200 and some million figure.
D--Did the state really recognize the impace?
S--I don't think the state recognized it. I think that parts of the state
that were concerned really were the ones that were getting the customers.
And again, a lot of them were directed at a lot of companies. Because of
our aggressiveness we may have stood out.
D--Was Gulf American the most aggressive?
S--I think that at that time Gulf American was probably the biggest ani the
most aggressive. As we grew, we became the biggest. An certainly in
promotion at the beginning, we were the most aggressive. That was our
way of marketing. I guess originally when we picked it up, Lehigh
Acres was doing all the national advertising. Other than that, I
guess Deltona did also, and General Development. We were the creative
people. And being creative I guess we were the most aggressive, in my
opinion. We even bought our own airline to fly people in, we offered
people a 3 day, 2 night vacation in Florida at 29 dollars a person. All
expenses paid. Put them in a airplane, put them in a hotel, feed them in
our restaurants. At that point, if they hadn't bought or if they had
bought, they would either ask for their money back or they kept it.
D--Did you have most of the people that came and purchased were generally
S--Oh. I would say. We had those numbers, but we did surveys and kept very
very accurate records. And the people who didn't buy who came down they
were impressed with what they saw. We had two types of clients. Ones
who had bought and we solidified them. Or people who hadn't bought and
came down and bought. I think the numbers were good, otherwise we would'nt
have flown them down. We kept good records so we would know if the
percentages were in reason. If they liked what they saw or they didn't
like what they saw.
D--How much did the people that worked for the Rosens, how much did they really
believe in what they were doing? Did they really believe that they were
building cities or did they just believe what they were taught? Did they
do what they did out of personal loyalty to the Rosens?
S--Well, I think the key people, most of them believed very much in the company.
And your key people developed a very intense sense of loyalty to Leonard
and Jack. And I feel that Leonard was in contact with his people almost
until the day that he died. And I know that when he spoke to you, people
came to visit him in Nevada. He would talk to them about his problems or
their problems. He hired people that came to work with him in Nevada.
I know that Bob Finkernagel used to come out and meet with him in Nevada.
Ed Caldwell used to come out and see him. Because I was there. I went
back with Leonard for three years in Nevada. They would come out there.
Tom Weber went back to work for Leonard. Also, Tom in Gatlinburg,
Tennessee. Cy Reis was back working for Leonard. This was a couple of
years ago. Bernice was back working for Leonard. He was in touch with
a lot of people. Up until recently.
D--You are saying there is a lot of personal loyalty there.
S--A lot of personal loyalty.
D--That went both ways?
S--Absolutely. They gave Leonard a party here five years afterward. And all
of his people were there. They honored Leonard. I don't know who started
it. Maybe Kenny or Pacelli. And all these people showed up. All the
old faces showed up. Of course Jack has been gone for a lot of years.
Jack died in '69.
D--What did he die from?
S--Heart attack. My wife died in '70. They gave a lot of land at Cape Coral
for churches and synagogues. One of my neighbors here built the first
piece of commercial property in Cape Coral.
D--And what was that?
S--He had a children factory there. Sam Nahama built the first piece of
industry in Cape Coral.
D--You run into people all over the place.
S--People are everywhere. A lot of people, very successful people. Various
aspects of the business. They came in and each started to have a following.
D--When important decisions were going to be made, policy decisions or new
directions like starting a new development, who would be the people that
would be called in to talk about something like that? Would Leonard and
Jack just make those decisions themselves?
S--No. They believed in buying advice. They would even steal advice if they
had to. They would go after the best advice they could. I guess the
shakers and movers were #1 the marketing people. So, of course, they
would use Hepener, Pacelli or Schwartz. They would certainly then look
at the product. It would be then Tom Weber or.... They would surround
themselves with a lot of key people. And financially, they would use
George and Bernie would come down. They were also directors, Bernie
Herzfeld and George London. They would use...the idea would germinate
with them, they were involved with. But then they would use a great
engineering company, Rader Engineering. They used a lot of big law firms
D--So Rader was like the top engineering firm?
S--Yes. They did a lot of work. But they had used a lot of the engineering
people too, at Cape Coral. An idea would germinate when somebody said,
"I've got a great idea." Then they would look into it. And see what
they would do. I guess the primary concern was marketing and then the
product came. If they couldn't market it, the product could not come
together. The day thing was marketing.
D--So, they would market it first, then they would see if they could deliver
S--They would then, sometimes they'd go to Kenny and have a great idea, and
have this and have that and they'd know they could market something,
they'd put it together.
D--Who came up with the ideas of the different projects and stuff?
S--No, no, a lot of this stuff from the employees themselves or people.
Plus some of the stuff they thought of themselves. They were both very
business oriented. And they weren't adverse to taking calculated risks.
The idea sounded good, looked good, they would take certain risks. There
was the philosophy that when they took a calculated risk but they would
limit the liability. They would set aside X amount of dollars to see if
something was feasible. If it wasn't they would take a hard look at it
and just drop it right there and take their bath. But a lot of the ideas
came from the employees themselves plus their knowledge and experience
plus the fact that they were exposed to a lot of people who had a lot
D--You knew Leonard and Jack pretty well. Did you ever get an impression
i that they were really surprised at how big the company got and how
successful it was?
S--No. I don't think that they were surprised. I just think that they took
things in their stride. They reached a plateau and they were then going
to go for the next plateau. I've never really known that they were
D--Were they pretty confident?
S--Confident. But again, they didn't start from scratch to be the biggest
in the world. As they hit a certain point, the thing grew. They would
then look at the growth and decide to go on. But they were always
determined to grow. They were never content to stay each day as to
where they were. And to take their money and run so to speak. They
would look at what they had. I think they enjoyed all the thing the
money gave them. I don't think they ever used money as their criteria,
otherwise they would have quit a long time ago. Leonard was in business
until the day that he died. And he sure as hell could have quit at any
stage of that business after the first five, eight, or ten years and
reaped the rewards, particularly when the company was sold. Both of
them. They didn't quit. their desire was to grow. But they sure as
hell could have quit a long time ago.
D--So, the new business challenges was the reason for being in business?
S--Right. I always thought that if they stopped working they would die.
But they both died working. Jack in his late 50's and Leonard in his
early 70's. They could of quit and taken their money and run like hell.
They liked to live good. Money was never the criteria though, in my
D--When did the idea come that they were looking to sell Gulf American?
What brought that about?
S--I don't know for sure but I do know that money was always a problem.
And getting money was always a problem. The constant battle in the
business was money. Of course, the more you sold, the more cash deficit.
I think they really started to consider selling when they started to
have problems with the governor (Claude Kirk). The problems became
major serious. At that point, they were getting a lot of advice. You
either slow the business down, or get out of the business. At that
time the directors were other than associates. And I remember they had
a financial man from one of the major companies in New York as a director.
They had many businesses men as a director. Jack Holm, the mayor of Miami
was a director. They had directors who would advise Leonard and Jack,
to sell the business. Plut the fact that they needed money. They were
still trying to grow. They didn't stop. They needed more money. So
with these people, who Leonard and Jack respected, told them to get out
of the business.
D--Do you know any of their names?
S--Chester deveneux was a director. he was president or whatever it was of
a major company on the New York Stock Exchange. Shellard Globe, made
office furniture. There was a director on a major brokerage outfit.
I can't think of the company. The company that took us public, that
helped negotiate the sale of the company. Of course, George and Bernie
were directors. I was a director. They had some pretty solid people on
D--They were generally beginning to advise...
S--Because of the problems with the state and because of the money problem
They were advised to sell the compnay. I guess the problem with the
state was the straw that broke the camel's back. We were shut down
for 30 days. That was probably it.
D--So that really became a hurt. Do you think that the criticism,
the punishment, the thirty day suspension and everything dealt out
by the state was more severe than warented?
S--No. I think they had a reason to punish the company. I don't know if
they were severe or not severe. It is also my understanding that the
cause of the problem, my understanding it was just one of those things
that somebody goofed. And it wasn't Leonard and Jack. The company did
things that waranted their punishment.
D--It seems that from some of the things that I've read that Leonard
became very belligerent.
S--That he did. He was very outspoken. He told them they were unfair. He
antagonized the situation. But whether the punishment was sever, I don't
know. Certainly, the state thought that we needed to be punished. But
what caused this as I understand was just an honest goof and not a
deliberate goof. That's my understanding. From what I've heard. I
heard that it was an honest goof.
D--How big was the corporation at that time? What are we talking in
S--Oh, I would say several thousand employees at that time. I don't recollect
the payroll amounts. I know that their sales were in hundreds of
millions of dollars.
D--When General Acceptance Corporation bought out Gulf American and it
wasn't too many years that they were filing for bankruptcy. Did you
ever have any feeling on that, why they did?
S--I really feel that they didn't know what they were doing. Even though
Jack and Leonard had a contract, they were just ignored a week after the
business was sold. They sold it and whoever was running the company at
that time felt they could handle the company. And they ran into the
same problems of money and they couldn't handle the situation. That
they had access to the money. Not knowing what they were doing, they
thought that they were able to do the same thing.
,. D--You said Leonard and Jack had a contract.
S--For a year or two or whatever it was.
D--Was it as consultants?
S--I know Jack was very upset because he told people that he was a consultant
and I also know that Jack would have bought the company back because they
were running it into the ground.
D--Had they made any negotiations?
S--No. And he was very upset. They were just not consulted on it. On
any major decisions. GAC had delivered what they had promised, they
just didn't consult with them. And Jack felt hurt, ignored.
D--When they sold, they sold in exchange for GAC stock. Were they
restricted as to whether they could sell the stock.
S--I think that they were.
D--Were other stock holders in the old Gulf American given GAC stock?
S--Yes. I still have some.
D--Were they restricted as far as whether they could?
S--Some were and some weren't. But Leonard and Jack, I think, were.
D--It was my idea that they were and stock had changed so much in value
that there wasn't a time that they could sell that they lost a consid-
erable amount of money.
S--They both lostmost of their money.
D--Now, Your position, were you immediately let go when the company changed
S--I was with Modern Air at that time and I would say after about a month
or two, I was let go.
D--Was that pretty common? Did they just let everybody go?
S--They kept key people that were supposed to be part of the family.
And I guess they had their own people for Modern Air. There was
nothing for me. I was active in the management of Modern Air. After it
was sold they took me out and gave me an office on 79th street. My office
was at the airport and after it was sold they gave me an office at 79th
street. They removed me from the airline. They gave me a project to
work on. They removed me from the operation on the airline. I think
that's par for the course. So....
D--Let me ask you a little bit of an unrelated question. Did Leonard and
Jack ever comment or sense any strong feeling of anit-semitism in their
competitors, people or corporations or groups outside of the corporation?
S--I can't say that I directly know of anything though I sensed something
to the fact that various people in the state. I sensed that various
people in the state could have felt that way. I wasn't sure though.
As far ar the competitors go, maybe they felt that we were rich. I
don't know. I may have come out in something or the other, but I
D--Did Leonard and Jack consider themselves orthodox?
S--I guess orthodox conservative, they both went to orthodox synagogues,
but they were more conservative. Leonard was more orthodox than Jack.
D--So, their faith was important to them?
S--Oh, yes. Very, very important. The state of Isreal was very important
to them. they had been honored for years before GAC for their work
with Israel and that.
D--Tell me a little bit about that.
S--The orthodox synagogue in Baltimore which they continued to do. Finan-
Beth Jacob was a primary mover in a school that he went to as a kid.
Talnicdical Academy He was very, very happy to do that. President
of the alumni association. They raised a consideralbe amount of money.
Both of them gave considerable money to Kfar Silbar for education. They
were both honored in New York, by a lot of the big names of this country.
Big people. For their contribution to Kar Sildar. Leonard first and then
Jack in subsequent years. This was a national thing that they gave money.
And also raised money for this. They were both very active in raising money
for this. They were both very active in Israel bonds. Both in Baltimore
and in Florida. And in the United Fund in Baltimore they were very active.
They did, here in Florida, Leonard was very active in the Hebrew Academy
here in Miami Beach. With money and also work. Leonard was a chairman
in the Six Day War. He was the chairman of the group to raise money for
the war for Israel. He was a volunteer. He did some work for the Parkin-
son's foundation. Very active in the Hebrew academy and synagogue here.
He did a lot of work for various community projects. I guess the two
basic things were the Hebrew Academy here which one of the best schooled
in the country.
D--Is that a high school or like a grade school?
S--It's elementary through high school. Jack's of course, was a high school.
A lot of the community. What they would do for fundraising is they would
get everybody who worked for them to work on the phone or solicitation.
Their employees worked for them. I remember how they made phone calls.
D--So, a lot of their employees would volunteer?
S--They'd have it on a Sunday or whenever they could work they would go
down there and work.
D--So, it wasn't like some corporations kind of tell their employees that
they are going to volunteer or something like that, it was a genuine
S--That's right. I'm sure they would tell people to do it, but everybody
would do it.
D--I'm trying to think of some other things. Were there other areas of your
dealings with the corporation that you were especially familiar with?
S--You mean personally? There was a side of Jack and Leonard that nobody
ever knew or saw.
D--Can you think of any situations that can really describe more who they
were? That people didn't see very often.
S--Well, the side that people didn't see was at their non-business side.
Jack, people knew. They really didn't know Leonard. Leonard was an
extrovert. He had to give every speech. He loved to tell jokes. He
loved dirty jokes, funny jokes. Leonard, I guess, felt more show bus-
iness than Jack. And Leonard was on stage all the time, sometimes too
much so. Jack was always in the background. People knew Jack. Jack
was a very deep person. I'll tell you, Jack felt way, way back, and this
was a general thing. That we had military academies and naval academy,
we have all these academies but there is nobody training peace guys,
diplomats. He gave a lot of money, I believe, to the JFK peace foundat-
ion in Israel. The purpose was to train people for peace. Like you train
a soldier to go fight. He gave, I think, a lot of money to the JFK Peace
Fund in this country and Israel. For people who would work in peaceful
fiels. Jack was a very deep thinker. Jack used to think very deeply
and Jack was very concerned about the whole world. Leonard took care
of his end of the world too which was his family and Israel and synagogues
and schools and stuff. Jack was very deep. Jack was involved, again, I'm
going off the top of my head. Jack had a friend in Baltimore named Bob
Lindner who was a psychiatrist. Bob Lindler was a prison psychiatrist
either in Baltimore or in Maryland. Jack worked with Bob Lindler
and something to do with the penal system and psychiatric aspects. Bob
Lindler, by the way, wrote a couple of great books. Rebel Without A Cause,
and Fifty-Minute Hour. He was a shrink. He wrote those two books which
of course, were big books. He was in Maryland. Jack became involved with
him as a personal friend. That's a part of Jack that I just remembered.
What else did Jack do?
D--Maybe a little bit aside from that. What was Jack's wife's name?
D--Clair. And he had children?
S--He had four children. Edie, Amy, Lisa and Judy. Eidel lives in Tucson,
Arizona. The kids are in San Francisco, one is in New York. Two of them
are going for their masters or whatever, Lisa and Judy. And my kids are
very close to them. The kids in this family are still very close together.
But of course, I'm still close to Leonard's children. Because of the
distance, I have not been close with Jack's children.
D--Lecnard's children were?
S--Sandy, Ronnie, and Linda.
D--And what are they doing?
S--Sandy...when Leonard died Sandy and Linda took over his business.
Ronnie, who was with them, went into business for himself. The same type
of business. Ronnie, right now, I think is in Colorado near Aspen. He's
in some type of development business. Linda and Sandy were in, ran Leonard's
business after he died. Linda primarily.
D--I understand Leonard had remarried. His first wife was Dorothy.
S--Right. They are still very, very close. They were very close until the
day that he died. The families are all close. She lives in Hawaii.
D--Were there any other people that eventually ended up with the corporation
that dated back to that time period?
S--There was two people in sales at Charles Antel. One guy was Wentworth
Barnes. And the other was George Kreist. They came to work. They were
the cosmetic people. Wentworth Barnes was a cosmetic person. He was
director of sales at Antel. George came in as the credit manager. He
then became an assistant sales manager. They both came to work for GAC
at the beginning in sales. They didn't stay though. They left the com-
pany. Coming down, from Baltimore. I came down. Paul Venzi came down.
In all of the offices Tony Pericci who was traffic director at Antel, came
down and became I guess what you call a warehouse shipper for the company.
Bob Carroll who was assistant sales manager. He came down. He is now
with Avitar. They came down. And of course, Milt Kessler. he worked
with Jack in marketing. Then Ron Lynchburg who worked with Jack. Moft
Rolrick came down. They were all involved with Jack in sales. That
pretty much all I can think of. I'm sure there were hundreds. Bob would
know a lot about Jack. He worked with him and Lynchburg and Rollick.
They worked with Sack. I'm sure there were others.
D--There's a couple of other people here that might job your memory a little
bit. Tell me a little bit more about Bernie Herzfeld.
S--Bernie was the attorney for the company. He had his own law firm. he
worked for Charles Antel in Baltimore. He helped form the original Gulf
American Land Corporation and he was also a corporate council. He was
a director. he moved from Cape Coral over here. What I remember, Bill
was corporate council here. Bernie was the main council. We had a guy
named Harry Warren here. Bill Carmine who worked in the offices here.
Now when the company shut down, Bernie became president of the company
D--What kind of a guy was he?
S--He was a quiet guy, conservative guy. Leonard and Jack used him
constantly. He became like part of the family. George London was the
same way. He was part of the Antel. He may have been part of Rosen,
I don't know. He was like the accounting firm for the company. Before
it grew to a point where it needed national accounting.
D--Who did the company go to then?
S--They developed an in house staff. But George was a director and knowing
the people he was important as Leonard. They coordinated with them.
Gernie coordinated with upper legal and George would go to the accounting
firms. George would be there on the audits.
D--And when the company had a lot of difficulties with the state?
S--Bernie did a lot of negotiating with Carmine. Bernie was the primary
D--Did you ever know Milt Mendelson?
D--Tell me a little bit about him.
S--Milt was a creative genius. Very, very creative. He could put two or
three words in something that oculd get you into big, big trouble. The
problem was riding hard on Mendelson. He was a character, very creative.
But you always had to watch what he was doing. He may have caused them
their problems. He would just maybe go overboard sometimes.
D--Some people have said that he was the one who kind of intrigued Leonard's
S--I think that he was the first person that Leonard, the intriguing part.
I guess he met Milt when he was coming down to look for land. When he
came down initially he met Milt.
D--Oh. That was Clearwater. Some people have mentioned Punta Gorda.
S--Clearwater was supposedly where he met. He met him somewhere in that
He became a problem person. You had to have somebody look over his
shoulder. But he was a creative guy.
D--What about Harry Hirsch, who was he?
S--Harry Hirsch was sales manager or assistant at the property. He reported
to Kenny Schwartz. Sweet guy. Nice guy.
D--What about Joe Maddlone?
S--Joe was on Leonard's team here. Joe was involved in, as I recollect,
he was an assistant to Leonard. He was involved in city planning with
the city of Coral Gables here. He was a good community man. He developed
in public relations, and meeting with the regulatory people. He was
just a community man, a real kind gentleman. He was like Leonard's
assistant. He got involved in a lot of things.
D--Jim Layden, what did he do?
S--Jim Layden was, well first he was my assistant and then he became
Leonard's assistnat. He was responsible for certain parts of
administration. Like the allocations of property. When I first met
Jim he had run allocations. Which was getting specific homesites for
people to sell.
D--To the brokers?
S--To the brokers, or in Florida to an 0 & 0 office. Jim became Leonard's
assistnat. He probably replaced me. But he was more involved in land
usage. He would work on the planning and things such as that. Jim
worked with me when I first came to town. And then I got in the other
aspects and Jim took over a lot of things.
D--If you had to kind of set down the basic organization of the corporation,
you know, Herzfeld was like the chief council. The marketing would be
under Jack Rosen, who would be underneath him?
S--Well, Jack had Hepner underneath him. And Hepner worked out of Baltimore
originally. But it would be, marketing would be Jack on top, Hepner,
and Carroll under Hepner. The organization was never a drawing. You
usually didn't go through a chain of command and that sometimes did cause
problems with the organization. I was the same way. But on papers to
me there might be organizational charts but we tear them up the next
week. It was my job to put the pieces together. Maybe Jack and Hepner
under him and Hal under that. And then Lynchburg and Rollich under
Hepner but on the side. Maybe on the side of Jack again, Hepner was
one side and then Ed Pacelli. Kenny would be under Rosen because it
was the property here. You had inside people. Hepner was on the inside
whereas Pacelli was in the field.
D--Under Jack also would be advertising?
S--Would be advertising also, yes.
D--That would be Paul Venzi.
S--Paul Venzi, Kenny Schwartz would be with Leonard basically. And Paul
was here eventually. At that point, of course Jack was here eventually,
too. Jack was in the creative aspects of the advertising. The budget,
of course, was set by the two of them and then Jack was responsible for
D--Development was run by Tom Weber?
D--And administration was?
S--Well, it was me basically. CorDorate administration would be Layden
here and Carroll would be in sales administration. You really couldn't
pinpoint. Harry Schloss was like in charge of all the accounting. He
was vice-president of all the accounting functions. He went back to
work for Leonard also. Also we had, somebody was in accounting.
D--What about Shapiro?
S--Milt Shapiro was under Harry Schloss as I recollect. And then there
was an attorney. Anyway, Harry Schloss worked very closely with George
London. He was in charge of accounting. On computers was Elton Davis.
Ed Bryan was always in charge of allocations. At that level.
D--Who was the chief financial officer?
S--I would say it was Harry Schloss here. Under George London. This
was at the end. But we all very close together, very important.
I may have gone to Milt or Harry or somebody else.
D--So, it was very difficult to draw any type of organizational chart?
S--We didn't work with an organizational chart. When we sat down to talk
everybody had weight. I'd go to any number of people who would go
somewhere else. I'd go right to the source with it. This was one of the
keys. If we had a problem area, whatever it is, we'd go right to the source.
D--And as needed, did the corporation change people around?
S--Yes. It was an informal organized company. Which was very good because
your response was quicker. Answers are quicker.
D--After the corporation sold, what happened to you?
S--For a period of time I was out. My wife was sick, by then about that
time Leonard and jack had got involved in other things. I went to Paul
Venzi first. It was a company Leonard had started on in 1970. They
had an office in Miami. And when Leonard moved to California, I was
given the choice of moving to California. But my wife was sick at that
time and she had to stay here. At that point I kind of quit work. And
subsequently I moved back to Baltimore for a couple of years. And then I
came back to work here. I think Leonard was involved for a couple of
years. It was a joint venture. Where his company owned some land and
a shopping center. It was a joint venture. It was with Stuart Perlman.
They had bought some land. He just died about a month ago. But they
had bought some land in Florida in Aidleah. It was a joint venture with
the Perlman brothers. And I came back to help them build the shopping
center. And the shopping center was built and I stayed around for
a couple years. And it was sold. I moved to Las Vegas to work for
Leonard for three years. And then I left. My wife couldn't adjust to
Las Vegas. Then we came back to Florida. I goofed off and now I'm
going back in the real estate business. Because I'm tired of doing
nothing. So I have a brokerage office in Pompano, Florida. Well, it's
a lot of work that I haven't intended. But I just have to do something
to keep busy. So I'm going back to work.
D--What other projects was Leonard involved in during those years that you
S--He wasn't involved with the company. He just owned the land. I developed
the shopping center. Built it and helped sell a lot of the land. But
the company PEC owned this land. Leonard was involved in building a
city near Las Vegas.
D--What was it called?
S--Calveda. He was doing that and then he got involved in time sharing.
He had three time sharing facilities. One in Reno, Las Vegas and one
Hawaii. I involved in all those operations. I was involved in the time
sharing thing. Actually he was involved in them and it was just a general
D--What was the property they had in Galtinburg?
S--This was something owned by the Preferred Equities. It was build like
D--What was the name of it, do you know?
S--Galtinburg Golf and Racquet Club. It was near Dolly Parton's. The
company bought some land.
D--Well, I think that you've answered pretty much all of my questions.
S--Have you heard much on this?
S--I'll give you a lot of background on this that most of the people didn't
know. I would going from memory and I'm giving you generalities. The
amounts and all this stuff.
D--Anything else you can remember about Jack and Leonard that really told
a little bit about them? Any situations that you particularly remember,
that stick in your mind or whatever?
S--They were very, very unusual people. I had met a lot of big people, most
of them through them, by the way. A lot of big people. They are a, were,
a combination of a lot of things. There was a lot of showbiz and he had
a lot of showbiz friends, big ones. I'll tell you one thing about Leonard.
He was very active in the Hebrew Academy here and the fund raisers every
year. And one time he had a problem whoever the feature person at this
fundraiser was. They had to back out of it. It was like the last
minute. They had a big fundraiser where they raised all their money.
He was chairman. He had met Bob Hope along the way. Somewhere along
the way he heard that Bob Hope was in Puerto Rico. Leonard was never
embarrassed. He'd call and pick up the phone and he called Bob Hope.
He told him his problem. Bob Hope said he would fly over and do this
fundraiser. Leonard had to agree to one thing for Bob Hope. Bob Hope
was active in the Parkinson's foundation here. He had to agree to work
for the Parkinson's foundation here, which Leonard agreed to do. Which
he did. We had Bob Hope and Leonard worked for the Parkinson's
foundation. This was the kind of guy he was. He knew a lot of bus-
iness people. A lot of big people. Calling them for ehlp, advice,
charity, money, whatever. And Jack the quiet one. He would do it
quietly. he always found a way to do things that they felt they
should do. They were unique. They were very, very original people.
Both of them. They were a hell of a good combination.
D--If you could point at any one person besides Leonard and Jack Rosen,
who would point to as contributing the most to the success of the company?
S--Kenny, Eddie, I think Herpner. They were key people in this business
from almost like day one. Plus George and Bernie and me. We were all
from the very beginning contributing something. The basic people were
Jack and Leonard. All the others contributed. I could have been done
without them but they all made it a hell of a lot easier. Particularly
the inception. When you're trying to do it you want all the help you
can get. They had it going in. It just made it a little bit easier.
They were all contributors of a lot. We all pitched in. Whatever had
to be done, we did. I'll tell you this. I got at three o'clock in the
morning which happened a lot of times. We would get calls and have
meetings all hours of the day and night seven days a week. All of
us did that.
D--Well good. Thanks a lot.