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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interview with Kenneth J. Schwartz in his office on Sheridan Street on
"November 16, 1887 at 9:15 a.m. The interviewer is David Dadrill.
D--Would you tell a little bit about your background? Start with the date
of birth and tell a little bit about your education.
K--Born in Boston, July 12, 1926. I'm a graduate of the oldest high school
in the United States, Boston Latin School here in 1944. Went in the Marne
Corp, actually applied at graduation. And served in the Pacific Theatre
of war, participated in the invasion of Okanowa, and then went to China,
stayed there briefly, fortunately got yellow jaundis, came out, came back.
Attended the Wharton School at the University of PennsylvainA, graduated
in 1950 and worked in Philadelphia in the ice cream business during the
college years. Went to New York briefly to work for a year or two, then
went back into the ice cream business in Baltimore. Managing a venture
a unitype program selling ice cream in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
A long line in Washington of 100 of these trucks that ride down neighbor-
hoods and ring the bells and while I was there I became friendly with a
young man who introduced me in 1950 to the Rosen brothers, who at that
time were owners and mangers of a venture called Charles Antell, which
at-that time in the early days of television was probably one of the most
aggressive--and that's an interesting word, aggressive, in terms of their
lives--a very aggressive merchandiser by means of T.V. and raido. In
about 1955, the Rosen brothers who had checked a product that was used
for hair treatment--a shampoo or treatment for neatness of the hair, I
can't remember which--but I remember Lanolin was a very significant
D--They discovered the patent on it?
K--I think they probably--it wasn't anything as significant as purchasing
a franchise-but if I remember it correctly, Leonard and Jack had a
partner named Charles Kasher. To find out his name you can look
through motion picture history or Broadway history because he was
a producer of several films and a Broadway show was made into a film,
called Hadrian. He also produced a very well known Michael Cain film.
I'll probably think of the name as we go along. But anyway, Charlie
Kasher was an intimate part of the lives of the Rosen brothers. It
was true of so many other people who passed through their lives. He
was one who was friendly with Leonard, therefore, in most cases friendly
with Leonard and therefore someone disliked or at least treated with
some degree of hesitation by Jack Rosen. That was a very important
thread that ran through the wires of the two brothers and was an
essential ingredient if anyone wants to understand the Rosen brothers.
They have to understand the syndrome of a powerful, dynamic, hard-hitting,
aggressive--that really applies to Leonard, not Jack. Because Jack was
in many ways a very shy and a very sweet man. Anyway Kashqr was a
very close friend of Leonard Rosen. I don't think that their relation-
ship was a fraternity brother or Harvard MBA. It was born in the
carnival days. Leonard Rosen was a very colorful carnival character.
And I believe it was during the years that he travelled for the carnival
that he learned about this product. And as I remember he paid some
minor amount of money for the rights to it, if there was such a thing
as rights. And, where did the name come from? I think Charlie Kashear
was very imaginative, creative partner had a family named called Ante..
And I think that was the way they adopted the name Charles Antel and those two
words were very very important. Because by the time that I met them, they
were rather successful people with money in the bank and net worth.
Back to Charles Antel. I guess what interested me the most about
Charles Antel was first of all, the picture of Leonard Rosen. The way
he made the carnival pictures, the people he became friendly with during
that era, some of whom carried full into his later life. But I think
especially significant was the creativity he and Jack showed in the pioneer
days of television when they went to television stations, most of which
would close at 10:00. Your dad and mother would remember. The televisDon
stations, as I would recall, in the early 50's late 40's would come on
around 6 p.m. There was no such thing as daytime television. And the
rest of the nation saw what Ft. Myers was during the 60's. And that is
one television station per town. I think the larger cities each had a
network affiliation. But I think that Leonard and Jack and Kashear,
specialized in smaller towns in going to the television stations which
were on from 6 to 10 pm. And they would close down at 10. And the
Rosen brother's concept was: as long as you close at ten, why con't you
sell us time after you close. And the theory that they articulated to the
owners of the station was: you are closed anyway, so you have in effect
an empty theatre. So what we are asking you to do is to sell us space in
your theatre after closing hours. This led to the Rosen brothers having
a full fledged, dynamic time acquisition plan that was managed by a bril-
lant lady, Bernice Treiberg. Bernice is as important as the history of
that venture. I guess of all the names you showed me the most important
name is Tom Weber. And probably Bernice is among the top two or three.
Bernice was in charge of acquiring this time. It was called bartering.
It was the first time I'd ever heard the word barter, and simply stated
she was buying time on a. station in DesMoines, Iowa.. She would buy an
hour or two hours or three hours and she would then either utilize that
time for Antell. See, Antel wasn't just a 30 second spot. Antel was a
one, five, ten, twenty,or thirty minute commercial. And many people can
remember graphically sitting down and being captivated by this commercial
that would last as long as thirty minutes. It would go on and on and on.
And basically what it said was you should use Charles Antel La'nolin be-
causes you've never seen a bald sheep. And there was an oil that came
from a sheep that you took and rubbed it in your hair, you would have good
hair. It was part of grooming or washing your hair. Maybe both. What
the Rosen brothers and Kashear did was to acquire this huge horde of time,
some of which they used for Charles Antel and some of which Bernice and
her team would utilize for trading purposes. And they would own this
huge block of time all over America and they would trade it of to people.
I don't even remember what they got for it. They would sometimes get
money, sometime services, sometimes goods. And this time became a
median of exchange for them. And So anyway when I met them in '57
they wer in the midst of managing the Charles Antel venture. One of the
names on your list had by then surfaced prominently, Saul Sandler. Saul
was married to the then only surviving sister of Jack and Leonard.
Leonard and Jack were two of four children. Two boys and two girls. The
sequence, as I recall (this is rather important because it was Mrs. Fan-
nie Rosen who was just a magnificent lady, the matriarch of the family who
kept things going. The father of the Rosen children died at a rather
early age. I guess ifi-the 1940's which would have made him a man in his
40's or 50's.).
D--Do you remember his name?
K--I don't remember the name of Mr. Rosen, Sr. He might of died even in
the 30's because now that I remember, Leonard quit school around the
5th or 6th grade. And I believe his first business venture was derivitave
of the little grocery store that Mrs. Rosen ran to help raise her four
children. And I have a faint recollection that it was situated maybe
a little west of Charles Street and a little north of Baltimore St. to
locate it. It was in Baltimore. Leonard wasn't satisfied to wait in the
store for people to come to him. This was an interesting period in his
life. And he opened up some kind of a sidewalk stand down the street to
get a little bit closer to where the prospects were. And that was sort
of a little preview of what was to come in life. I would guess that Jack
probably went to high school and maybe finished. They were both very
well read people, Leonard particularly, even though he had no formal
education. I doubt that there was any year in his life that he didn't
read 20 to 40 books. And therefore was in many ways a brilliant scholar.
D--You were telling me about the four children.
K--The sequence of the four children went as follows: Edith Rosen Straus,
Leonard Rosen, Jack Rosen, and Sylvia Rosen Sandler. Tragically three
of them died very young in the following order. Edith Rosen Strauss
died around 1955. Because I became an employee of theirs in 1957 and I
seem--to recall that there was still a period of mourning. And instead of
just sitting back and mourning in frustration. They established the Edith
Rosen Strauss charity fund. That group which is probably still in busi-
ness raised money for cancer research in memory of Edith Rosen Strauss.
I can't remember whether she left any children. I seem to remember
she was estranged to the person "nm-d Strauss. So when I came on the
scene in 1957 there was the mother, the three surviving siblings and
Mrs. Rosen lived until 1963. That was very severe loss to everybody
because she was such a magnificent woman. One of the little episodes
I remember about her was her first visit to Cape Coral. I was sort of th6
3 > on the scene person so I had the delight of conducting the tour,
and seeing the reaction of people. To me it was the one great love affair
of my entire life. When I took Mrs. Rosen she was just astonished at
what was going on with all the machinery and all the activity going on.
It was very early in the sales days before we really became huge. As it
was to all of us, and particularly to her, it just became overwhelming
magnitude and the tempo of the venture. And I can remember her eyes opening
when I took her around the properties and in the very beginning of 1958.
She said "I can't get aver it. My son building a city." "He couldn't
keep his room clean and now he's building a city." That was a line I could
always remember. Mrs. Rosen died in 1963. Because I was still employed
by the Rosen brothers then. The next one to pass away was either Sylvia
Rosen Sandler or Jack. They died about the same time. I think Sylvia
died in maybe 1970. She had been suffering from cancer, the same disease
of which her sister died; She was a lovely, very gracious woman. She
left two children. And then shortly after Jack Rosen died (I think it
was '70 or '71) at the age of fifty. Which was a particular tragedy.
He had always been dogged by, not ill health in the sense of being sick.
But he was always sort of a troubled person. And that's why I mentioned
earlier the relationship between Jack and Leonard. Because that was
the dominant factor in Jack's life. Every problem that Jack ever had
in life he always scribed to Leonard., Ther is no way you can study
the history of Cape Coral without understanding that.. Because it was
a very extraordinarily complex relationship. I won't go into all the....
D--Well, think a little bit more about the relationship between the two
K--Jack was a very creative fellow. He was either enormously jealous
of Leonard or in the very least had a difficult time accommodating him-
self. Basically he was a very gentle fellow and Leonard's aggressiveness
was something that he had enormous problems with all his life.. I gues
probably understand that one simple little reference would explain it
all. Whenever one talked to Mrs. Fannie Rosen, even on Jack's birthday,
all one would hear was how wonderful Leonard was. So if you multiply
that times a lifetime of inconsequential episodes you could probably
then underscore the reason for Jack's mental or emotional difficulty.
D--How do you think Leonard felt about Jack?
K--He adored him. He didn't have the patience to conduct... It wasn't even
a day to day relationship. It was an hour to hour, minute to minute
relationship. Jack was a very difficult person to live with. Leonard
was a real fun person and Jack was very tough to take. Except in times
of adversity. When things were good Jack would just annoy you to hell.
SAnd I happen to be sort of a nemesis of his & that was a problem for
me, emotionally and vocationally. But Jack's finest hours were those
moments when things got tough. He was courageous and very supportive,
but when things were good he was sometimes merciless, not cruel, but Jack
was very good at rallying people during tough times.
D-Can you think of a situation.?
K-Oh I can remember a lot of cases where things got difficult. For instance
the Saturday Evening Post came out with a blistering indictment of the
Rosen brothers and some of the real milestones in terms of the deteriora-
J tion of the Rosen brothers. The attack by the Saturday Evening Post, Trevor
Amhbrister wrote this article. I can remember the Miami Herald coming out
with a harsh and probably well justified attack on some of selling
records of some of the Rosen brothers. At times like that when everyone
was in a state of frenzy. It was the one time when Jack would be cool,
encouraging" supportive, non-panicy. It was regular time when something
minor happened, Jack would just be angry and upset. I can think of so
many episodes mostly which have something of vulgarity so I can't really
repeat them on the tape. But basically his jealousy of Leonard would be
the overwhelming aspect. Therefore he would be a little bit unforgiving
or unintentionally cruel. My own demise of the Rosen brothers came about
from the tension between them. I don't know if you've come about this in
your research, but you were either a Jack person or a Leonard person. You
couldn't be both. In my heart I really saw myself as both, and I really
Liked Jack all the way through. From the moment I met him to the moment
he died. (We were then pretty much estranged.) I always was able to see
that he was basically a decent guy, a generous guy. Much more generous
than Leonard. Leonard was in many ways very selfish. Leonard got by on
charisma, on that magic personality of his. Jack was a guy that if you
did something well, that he'd want to reward you for it. With Leonard
if you did something well he would want to use his magic to find a way
to give you praise or to motivate you but not necessarily give you any
type of material reward.
D--How did Jack reward somebody?
K-Try to give him more money. He was the fellow who came up with the con-
cept of stock options for the offices of the company. I'm confident
that Leonard never would have given us the stock options. He would have
come up with some way to give us more cheerleading. I guess the best way
to describe,Leonard would to tell you a little story about my partner,
Lester Engel. At one time around 1969 I was employed very briefly by a
fellow named Joe Klein. He was in many ways the worst enemy ever of the
Rosen brothers. To a large degree was probably a significant contributor
to the ultimate downfall of the Rosen brothers. Keep in mind that there
was a certain arrogance in Leonard Rosen. Almost a self-defeating
stubbornness. You would then be able to recognized that a few people
played an important role. One would be Armbrister and his article in the
Saturday Evening Post, another would be an unnamed person in the Wall
Street Journal another would be Joe Klein. There were a handful of
people who provoked Leonard to the point where Leonard had to get
revenge. And instead of just stepping aside and just letting something
pass, particularly the Joe Klein situation, Leonard and Jack Rosen kept
going after Klein on some dispute that reached the point where ultimately
the Rosen brothers structure began to collapse because of revelations
about their sales methods and you eluded to it. None of which were
typical of or even necessary from the Rosen Brothers.
D--Speak a little bit more about this Klein guy.
K--Klein. Oh I'll tell you first bout what I was referring to that will
describe Leonard Rosen briefly. I was trying to convince Lester Engel
that he should join Joe Klein. Klein was a fellow who was so lavish
in what he would pay people. If a guy was making 25,000 a year and Joe
Klein wanted that guy he would pay him 50,000 and give him a Cadillac,
American Express card and whatever else they took. Not long afterwards
when the period of disenchantment would set in he would then get rid of
the guy. I learned that afterwards. But I remember saying to Lester
E ngle who was then a lawyer for the Rosen brothers that he ought to
consider leaving the....He had come up to see Joe Klein. Joe was aggres-
sive during that phase. He met with Lester and I saw Lester that evening
after he had finished meeting with Joe Klein. And I asked him what he
was going to do. He said 'I'm going to stay where I am." I said "don't
stay where you are. Go with Joe Klein because you can get a lot of -
money with him." So Lester said he was going to stay. I said "Lester,
you are never going to get any money with Leonard Rosen." Lester said
+-ht he had changed a lot and wasn't the same Leonard Rosen that you
remember. And I can remember with some characteristic reasoning of saying
the following: "Lester,Leonard Rosen may understand with his mind that
he has to pay the money. He might even understand with his heart that
he should pay the money. But the thing that would preclude him from
paying the money would be his stomach." And I think that sort of
describes him. I think even to this day, regretably the last words I
had with Leonard Rosen in his life, which was just a few month ago,
related to a dispute about money. An angry dispute about money. Anyway,
you wanted to go to Joe Klein.
D--What type of business was he in?
K--Klein started out as a prospect recruited for some letters that someone
had invented called OPC. Outside Public Consultants. That OPC was also
known in the trade as a canvaser. And he or she would ply the trade near
a hotel or an attraction. It became such an important part of the ultra-
aggressive life of the Rosens that one could go to the Vatican to watch
the Pope and be approached by a canvaser, could go to Buckingham Palace.
Someone came up to me there and I had friends in such far away places,
Costa Rica and Paris., Everywhere else in the world, there was always
a canvaser there who would come up and invite one to attend a cocktail
party at some hotel near the place. And in return you would get a free
camera or some novelty or some other treat. The finest of all the can-
vasers in all the world was the assembleage put together by Joe Klein.
Joe Klein was a significant contributor during a certain period of the
Rosen brothers' lives. I had gone by then, I left in '64, I came in
in '57. Drummed out basically because of Jack's problem with me. And
I can remember all of that very clearly, but I won't burden you with
that except to stick to the subject. Joe Klein became more and more
important in the lives of the Rosen Brothers by virtually the amount of
leads or prospects that he furnished. He had people covering all the
beaches of Dade, Broward County probably. And the Rosen brothers would
arrange to pick up these people somewhere near the hotel and come over
to Cape Coral. By then Cape Coral was a little less important. Golden
Gate became important, and I didn't have much to do with Golden Gate.
Golden Gate was a much more aggressively managed venture. After Golden
S Gate then came termuda Ranch Grants in Collier County which was even more
aggressively run as was River Ranch up in Polk County. There was also
Barefoot Bay and then ultimately Poinciana. Those are the names that
I associate with the Rosen brothers., I don't remember what it was that
Joe Klein and his father Zola who is a rather netarious character--Joe
was a rather charming and very engaging man. Bad blood rose between the
Joe Klein people and the Jack Rosen people. Jack Rosen was ultimately
responsible for the selling aspect of the Gulf American.
D--V1ho were some of those Jack Rosen people?
K--The Jack Rosen people were, in order of their importance, Charles Hepner,
in more or less of the management end. Bob Carroll who was more the
administrative end. Bob was the number one administrative person under
Jack. Such things as booking hotels for parties or namely managing
expenses. Bob was always kept away from the creative aspect. That was
Hepner. Hepner was originally a television director and came with the
Rosen brothers several years before I did. And he was the only.... I al-
ways identified myself as the first employee of the Rosen brothers. I'm
not sure how accurate that was. It wasn't accurate because first of all,
Tom Weber was there when I showed up. So I was probably the second
Florida employee. But Hepner was on the scene the day I came to Florida.
First in 1957. The Jack Rosen story began in Baltimore. Leonard moved
to Florida somewhere around September of '57. Why September? Because he
had three school-age children at the time. Linda was about 15, Connie
was 13, and Sandy was 9 or 10 and the apple of her father's eye. All three
of their lives, unfortunately, were adversely affected by Leonard's behav-
ior. When I say vulgar he was really in many ways extraordinarily coarse.
He was just a notorious womanizer. He was unbearbly insulting to his wife
who was and is a magnificent woman and to his three children. And I
can't help but feel for them. Lack of respect caused and various kinds
of difficulty for the children. And regrettably when Leonard died he was
almost estranged completely of his son Ronnie, which was especially
tragic. Fortunately he did retain a relationship with his two girls.
Anyway, back to Jack Rosen. Jack Rosen's creative person always was
Charles Hepner. One of the person's that made the transition with Leonard
to Jack, keeping in mind that you either had to be a Jack person or a
Leonard person. While I wanted to make the transition, I never made
the cut. But there was a fellow named Eddie Pacelli who was an old Ft.
Myers hand, having come to Ft. Myers in the military service, having mar-
ried a magnificent woman named Rosie Pauese back in the late 40's. Stayed
on in the bar and restaurant business in Ft. Myers Beach.
Got a real estate licesne through the Bill Reynolds office in Ft. Myers with
the William H. Reynolds Co. Then opened a real estate firm there. Then Eddie
had been instilled as a friend of Billy Reynolds and Eddie and Connie Mack
were both hired by Leonard Rosen long after I came to the company. I was
a veteran of about two or three weeks at the time. So when one put things
in order of seniority, I was already well seated there. Connie came in
as the public figure, Connie Mack, Jr. His father's was then well known.
Still is, but was very prominent then as Mr. Baseball. His son was a
very sweet and lovely guy who worked industriously on behalf of the Rosens
but could never really come to peace with their aggressive behavior.
Forget for the moment any misrepresentation or exaggeration. Even that
part of the Rosen brothers which was just plain aggressive, hard-hitting,
but had no other negative connotations. That was a problem with Connie
Mack. As was my personal tempo and behavior, that was a problem to
Connie. It was one of the things that I regret that being young and not
as deliberate as I should, I can think of a lot of things that I did that
probably disturbed Connie. Connie was a Leonard man. Pacelli was a
Leonard, but Pacelli switched over to the Jack side, which made Leonard
very happy because Leonard always felt that Eddie wasn't quite trustwor-
thy. Finkernagel was probably both. Finkernagel was an exquisitely
competant person. And he was hired by Leonard but through his raw
competence was rather well liked and certainly respected by Jack. Weber
was a Leonard man, Herzfeld was a Leonard man. Finkernagel was both,
Sanborne was under Finkernagel. Sandler was really mistreated by both
Because he had the unfortunate status of a brother-in-law. He was looked
down upon because he was a brother-in-law. Eddie Chaut whose name isn't
on here because he wasn't really important but he was Sandler's brother-
in-law. He doesn't really do anything except when you look at the guy
who was the brother-in-law of the Rosen brothers and the contempt that
they felt for him, and then you look that he had a brother-in-law and
you can imagine how far down the line Chayt was. Connie Mack, Jr. was
a Leonard man. Hepner and Pacelli were Jack men. Maddlone was a Leo-
nard man. Carroll was a Jack man. Carroll is still with the surviving
company, by the way. John Cavalier was never a factor. He was an admin-
istrative person under Saul Sandler. I was surprised his name was on
here. John Crandell I don't remember too well. I think he was an
accountant. And Milt Shapiro I do remember. He was an accountant. So
I don't know if you want more.
D--Anything else about Leonard that you think was particularly noteworthy.
K--He got up in the morning when he would engage in a period of prayer.
Leonard was a devout, religious, observant Jew. Probably the single most
important word in his whole life was Jew. He was aggressively Jewish.
He would defensively Jewish. He was a person in many ways who was a
scaldy and moral sensitivity to his Jewish heritage. I don't know if
he was that way towards the end, my guess is that he was. But I can
remember when we first started, I had never been exposed to the Jewish
very much. Although I was born in a Jewish family. And actually I
reminded Dorothy Rosen after the funeral, probably the one person that
I had to thank in my life for the discovery of being Jewish was Dorothy
Rosen and to a degree, Leonard. Leonard was an ardent Zionist, very
generous giver, as was Jack. But even more important, Leonard was a
more generous getter of philanthropic funds. Beyond what he gave him-
self, he was a very dynamic fundraiser. You can't really talk about
Leonard unless you can understand the history of the Jewish people:
if you can understand the holocaust, understand that when Leonard was
reaching his prime in terms of community acceptance and in terms of
financial where with all, it coincided with the two single most important
happenings in the history of the Jewish people. A'; the holocaust and B,
the establishment of the state of Isreal. And Leonard was very much
involved. My fondest memory of Leonard, I was long gone but still
maintained this spell-bound relationship with him. In 1967 he was
one of the powerful fundraisers when the six day war broke out. And
at the time a womaan from Isreal came here named Golda Meir. I don't-remem-
ber what her position was. She had not yet become Prime Minister. She
might have been foreign minister. Or might have had some other post.
But she came here to Miami and Leonard and she would go all over to
raise funds, morning to night. And I can remember, and I know this
is more than just an anti-anecdote. This was a fact that I'm told
that the war was going on. He was working her so hard that finally
she said "I better get back to Isreal and get some rest." Leonard
landed up on his back. I can remember coming to see him in 1967.
A lot of us were involved by then. By then I was sort of involved
and travelling around to the smaller cities to try and raise funds to
help, and Leonard was just outstanding during that period. And the
prior and subsequent periods in terms of trying to help the Jewish
people. So that's an essential ingredient in Leonard's life that
one has to understand. That to some degree might have had a relation-
ship to his aggressive behavior, to his pugnacious manner. What else
about Leonard Rosen? He was a spellbinder in terms of his one-on-one
relationships. During most of his life he was very careful to keep...
as crude and vulgar as he would be...he would never allow any relation-
ship to end on a bad note. He was just a person who would never accept
a burnt bridge. He worked very hard to maintain a good relationship, even
when he hurt someone's feelings. He would find a way to repair those
feelings. That was a very nice aspect of his makeup.
D--Any specific instances of that that you recall?
K--I guess I can think of my own life when I was over here in Miami at the
Bats Mitzvah of Leonard's niece, Kathy Sandler, the only daughter of
Sylvia and her husband Sol. It was a very joyous evening. We were
the best total the Synagogue in North Dade where ultimately my partner
became president, Lester Angle. And when evening after she did her por-
tion and there was what was called --- which is a little session where
refreshments are served, and Leonard came over and said';whats doing?" I said
"I hired a doctor today." He said, "What do you mean, you hired a doctor?"
I said,that one of the things we needed was some kind of indication that
Cape Coral was civilized and settled. I said that I had made a deal with
a guy name Dr. Da.vid and giving him some space in the shopping center.
And he's going to call a couple days a week and we can now say that we
have a clinic, a medical facility. And he got really angry and asked me
what right did I have to do that and how did you pay him. I had agreed
that we would furnish the facility for him and we would pay the rent and
give x amount of dollars a week. Leonard was really outraged at my ac-
tions having done that. I don't remember whether Jack was a factor in
that particular decision. It took a while before Jack.....It was part of
the Cape Coral management and I sort of ran that in those glory days.
But anyway, Leonard got really angry and I was enormously, tremendously
responsive to every move of Leonard's. I went home that Friday night and
was really heartbroken that that was how angry he was. And the following
day he called me up and he said,"I thought it over, and if there's anyone
in the world who knows what's right for Cape Coral, it's not I, it's
you. And therefore I was out of line to have said what I said." That
really floored me. That was a kind of really great motivation that a
young person had for working under Leonard's leadership. He did that
with a lot of people. He was very good at giving one a job to do and
letting him do it. And respecting the way the other person did it.
He was not a guy that second guessed. He was not a guy that sat around
and wondered if it was the right decision. Jack did. Jack was
enormously deliberate and reflective. I guess the best way to describe
i/ J '
the difference is that when you said something to Leonard or you did
something, you moved on to the next thing. Whereas with Jack if you
did something, Jack would wonder what you meant by that, what you said,
what did you mean when you said that, what was your real motivation, what
inspired you to say that, what was the background to that. Meanwhile
Leonard was on to building new tasks. Jack would agonize over every-
thing. That is a capsule description of the difference between the two.
D--What the Rosen Brothers' motivation behind building Cape Coral and some
of these developments? Was it simply to mare money, was it to build a
city? Was it to have a Fortune 500 corporation? What do you think
K--I don't think wealth was ever a factor. Neither of them ever took any
money out of the company, to my knowledge. You have to understand that
they started this venture in '57. I left in '64. It got bigger and
bolder after I left. I don't think they were ever motivated by being
rich. Being rich meant nothing to the Rosens. Had-they made ten times
as much money, neither of them would have been a lavish liver, spender.
My gues is had things gone well for them and had they continued to
reap more money, the chances are that they would have given more money
away to charity. They were really much nicer people than the record
would show. That tragedy, I can remember one little episode that re-
minded me of the Rosens and the differnece between what I saw in them
and what the world saw in them, When I was drummed in 1964 which was
probably the most heartbroken time of my life, I was honored by the
merchants of Cape Coral. I had a very lovely relationship with the
people in Cape Coral and that was really the reason why I was so heart-
broken to leave, to be drummed out. A little dinner was held in my honor,
and my guess is that there were about 17 or 18 people at this dinner. It
was held in the city of Ft. Myers. The merchants of Cape Coral were sit-
ting at a long table and I was at the end of this table, wide enough for
-7 c f K--So here I was at the end of the table standing up to acknowledge the
DO7) plaque they had given me, and the kind words they extended toward me.
And they 10 or 12 or 16 people there were sitting back smoking. In those
days it was fashionable to smoke, cigarettes and cigars. And they were
all sitting back in their chairs and I said, "I guess the time has come
now for the inside story of the Rosen brothers." And it was spellbinding
to me to see how each person moved his body forward and moved closer to
the table. And it was at that point that I said that I thought the
Rosen brothers were really honest, honorable people. The difference
between their public image and the kind of people they were was so
traumatic, so the opposite of what you see. Often times you hear so
many nice things about a business person, but underneath he is really
a rat. They were seen adversely, but they were basically nice people.
I don't really remember that they ever encouraged anyone to lie, te
exaggerate, to misrepresent. I can remember that when I was in charge
of the selling I knew for certain that I was reflecting what they wanted.
When I applied two rigid, unbreakable rules. And that is you never mis-
A' represent to a client, and you never abuse him. You can do anything else
that you want. Try as hard as you can, keep coming back, keep persisting,
because that was a very important part of the Rosen brothers' training.
Be persistent. Don't accept the first, second, or fourth no. Keep talk-
ing and trying to sell. But the Rosen brothers, in my opinion, would never
want anyone to exaggerate, to misrepresent, or to abuse a client. I don't
think that ever changed from the time we made our modest start, the first
few weeks of 1958, certainly to the time I left in 1964, and probably far
beyond. The Rosen brothers just were victims of their own over-ambition,
certainly. And I don't excuse them because my belief is that a venture
that is properly managed would have had some of the problems that arose
in the Rosen brothers' lives. They unfortunately happened sufficiently
early in their lives that they both went down in flames, which is tragic
because it really doesn't in anyway approach what they deserved.
D--How did the Rosens come to choose Cape Coral or Southwest Florida for
probably their grandest operation? Or as we look back on it now, their
K-The Rosen brothers were running Charles Antel. I think it is safe to
describe Leonard as a fellow who had a little bit of an attention span
problem, as brilliant as he was. And one he would get a venture going
I think that his dynamic personality would motivate him to :want to move
on. He wasn't what one would call administrative. He was more of a
builder. And my guess is that one the Antel operation started to build
She handed that over to Jack Rosen and Jack managed it. Jack was a much
more creative person than Leonard, by far. And much more of an experi-
menter. Remarkably creative person. One of his great qualities was that
there was no human being that he wouldn't talk with. You could say that
at two o'clock in the morning there is a guy coming in here and he's got
with no arms and no loegs and he's got some idea about a certain kind of
sales promotion. "Wher did you meet him?"
"I met him in this bar room and he was drunk."
No matter what the background Jack or Leonard would be willing to meet
with this person, to hear him out, and to try the idea. There was no
experiment that they weren't willing to try. That was very encouraging
for salespeople. So the sales gang that surrounded the Rosen brothers
certainly had plenty of motivation. Not only by virtue of the instinctive
brillance of the Rosen brothers in terms of sales and marketing, but
even more important, their encouragement to try anything, no matter
how half-baked an idea it was. What was your question?
D--Oh. How they came to choose Cape Coral.
K--Leonard had a problem with his feet, I-don't know if it was arthritis.
I think it was arthritis. Leonard used to wear these funny shoes called
Murray's Space Shoes. They were molded out of some kind of plastic. They
would come around his feet and they were molded so his feet would fit in
there and he could walk comfortably. Leonard was a very good tennis player.
Although he always walked very hesitatedly, as though he was very ill, very
-feeble. I can remember sometimes watching him. I couldn't play tennis
with him, except in the last years of his life because I couldn't even
give him any kind of a game. But I can remember how he would just
shuffle out on to the tennis court, sort of the way a person would go
from his room to the community dining room in an old-age home. But once
he was on the tennis court he would always win. Anyway, he was having
some kind of particular problem, I guess it was maybe in 1956, with his
feet. And he found his way to a spa in Charlotte County called the
Charlotte Harbour Spa. While he was there he met up with a man whose
name is not here. Probably more important than Tom Weber, Chalie Hep-
ner, Finkernagel, and all the rest combined. Milton M. Mendelson who I would
describe as the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. Milt was brilliant,
colorful, immodest, and he died broke too. Milt was living at that
moment in a place called Harbour Heights. It was one of the many
promotions with which Milt was associated. And Milt and Leonard met
up there at the Charlotte Harbour Spa. And I would guess that Milt, who
just recently passed away. All in all, I understand there were about
four people at his funeral which is just tragic. He was mistreated.
Hated by Jack and mistreated by Leonard. Which was true of a lot of
people. I shouldn't say hated. I don't know if Jack hated him, but no
matter how much Jack disliked you, he would never intentionally be un-
fair to you. Whereas Leonard, no matter how much he liked you, would
always try to beat you out of money if he could. Through the very last
moments of Milt's life, Milt was ---writing a biography of Leonard
Rosen. I had the occasion through a secret source to read this biography,
sometime within the last year or so. I got to read it a few months before
he died. It was the probably the single worst piece of writing I've seen
in my life. It was just horrendously bad. Anyway, so right up to the
very end of his life, Milt was still involved with Leonard Rosen. Milt
had had some few years of experience in the land sales business. He had
started in Chicago with a fellow named L.B. Harris to the recreation land
business. That means involved in a piece of land somewhere around Wiscon-
sin or what one might call suburban Chicago. From there he was in adver-
tising. He came down to Florida and met up with Lee Ratner who is one of
the three....There was four names in the history of the Florida land sales
business. At least on the west coast of Florida there would be the Rosen
brothers, in general development, theMackle brothers in General Develop-
ment, and Lee Ratner. Those would be the four prominent names. [The
other name was Louis Chesler.] The Mackal brothers were notorious
anti-semites and all the rest of them were Jewish. All creative, all
brilliant, and all of them got into problems of one kind or another.
None of them ever did any better than the Rosen brothers, I say with
still a sense of parochial pride. Milt Mendelson was involved somehbw.
I don't know if he's the one who introduced Lee Ratner into the land
sales business. I think he was. Lee Ratner's number one person during
all those years was a guy named Jerry Gould. Jerry Gould and Milt Men-
delson were part of an advertising agency. Jerry acknowledges that
Milt was a mentor to him. As. to a degree, Milt was a mentor to me.
Although I was never creative on the advertising side the way Jerry
Gould was. Jerry Gould ended up ultimately in the presence of Lee
High Acres working under Lee Ratner. By then, Milt had left. He had
Lee High Acres and gone with a group whose name I don't remember and
had started Harbour Heights. He burnt that bridge. It was hard or
impossible to burn a bridge with Leonard Rosen, I mentioned that to you
earlier. So Milt Mendelson, who was in many ways responsible and very
difficult to manage was brilliantly managed by Leonard Rosen. When I
was hired as a young rookie, the first thing Leonard said to me was
Milt Mendelson never signs anything, he is never allowed to make any
commitment on our behalf. You can make commitments, you can sign, I
don't want Milt to sign anything. Make sure you listen to what he tells
you and learn from him. And that was an understatement because I
learned an awful lot from Milt Mendelson. He was the person who helped
find the possible land that became Cape Coral. He was involved. He
was the one who invented the concept, insofaras the Rosen brothers were
concerned. My guess is that while Leonard was lying in a facility up at
Harbour Island, Milt was talking to him or telling him about some of the
opportunities, and this caught Leonard's imagination. Leonard then went
back. My guess is that almost every Leonard would talk to Jack and tell
Jack about this idea and then he would go up and Leonard put together a
group of people to help finance the venture, bought some land. And hired
Tom Weber, started to divide up the land, hired an engineering firm and
then that was sort of the beginning. None of it certainly could not have
happened as well as it did happen if it hadn't been for Milt Mendelson.
The timing was right. It was an industry that was just beginning to grow.
The existing ventures at that moment were the aforementioned Port Charlotte
operation of General Development. Which at that time was co-managed by
the Cheslers and the Mackals. By Lou Chesler and the Mackals who ultimate-
ly have a big falling out. And Ratner's operation in Lee county called
Lee High Acres. In which in its best day was never run nearly as well
as the Rosen brothers operation. Nor was it ever located on magnificent
waterfront exposure the Rosen brothers had. The Rosen brothers certainly
had Cape Coral. To my knowledge the best of any installment development
in the history of Florida., That's a pretty important statement, I
wouldn't say that they had....If you asked me to name the two greatest
developers in Florida history, I wouldn't think of the Rosen brothers.
I would think of Arvida and Coral Ridge Properties. Arvida was on both
coasts. Coral Ridge Properties was mainly on the east coast, although
they ended up in Naples. They did much of Ft. Lauderdale, they did
Coral Springs. It was just a very brilliantly operated venture by two
people name Hunt and Tarabella. Both are gone now. I guess the reason
why I'm a little bit whistful that there is nothing named after the
Rosen brothers is because there is a very nice high school in Coral Springs
called Tarabella High School. And it would seem to me that there should
be a high school name id after the Rosen brothers or something named af-
ter them. But I guess the difference is that the Hunt Tarabella endeavor
didn't get into any kind of problems. Whereas the Rosen brothers, mainly
because of their belacrose nature--Jack and Leonard's particularly--didn't
keep as good a name they were entitled to. Anyways, so Mendelson stayed
on the scene for several years. And was always somewhat of ---- to the
Rosen brothers. wT was never with the company, to my knowledge. He was
never employed. One of Leonard Rosen's brilliance, he could sense that
left to his own devices, Milt Mendelson would get in trouble.
D-What years was he associated with?
K--He was with the Rosen brothers from the moment the ventrue was conceived,
which would probably be in 1956 or 57, right until the day the day that
Milt Mendelson died in 1985. With a couple of interruptions. Because
Milt Mendelson basically was always going to jipped out of any kind of
ownership, and he knew that. I can even remember one day sitting in the
office in Ft. Myers before we even moved to Cape Coral we were up in a
/ little wooden building on the Tamiami Trail on the corner of Pondella and
U.S. 41. I can't remember what that 2nd corner was. The one closest
to Charlotte County. There used to be an orange juice stand owned by
a man named George Jud who was sitting in that little wooden doorway.
Milt was trying to get some kind of compensation, a reward or compen-
sation from Leonard. Finally, to end the conversation, Milt said to
Leonard, "What I'm going to do, Leonard, is I'm going to trust you,
that I'll be treated right." Leonard just shook his head and said,
"Milt, I'm sorry to hear that because that's liable not to work out
well for you." He said it sort of half jokingly but the fact is is
that when you'trusted Leonard to treat you fairly, he would do it.
but Milt stayed on and in his own way was a loyal, devoted guy. A
very nice guy. He was such a creative artist that he didn't really
have patience for much of the day to day activity. But when it came
to any kind of a problem there was no on'in the world to go to. Be-
cause there was no one like Milt to give you a creative answer. Some
of which were real, some of which he would invent out of his extraor-
dinarily nimble mind. So Milt was really the architect of the whole
concept of Cape Coral and was involved in all of the future ventures:
Golden Gate, Remuda, River Ranch. He was always there with Leonard
as a personal advisor. Now, again, Jack didn't like Milt. However,
this was typical. He would dog nose, he would really persecute Milt
cruelly, but when the time came that Milt decided to leave it was Jack,
not Leonard, that fought to get him to stay. But by then it was too
late. Milt was in another group and started another community called
Rocket City which was midway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. And
that tragically caused Milt to get in trouble and he landed up in jail.
Which was so....I'm not going to say unjust because he probably deserved
it. But he was a guy without an evil bone in his body. He was a guy
who perhaps was irresponsible, and that was something that Leonard
recognized. He went to jail. I don't know if the Rosen brothers
showed any affection or loyalty to him during the time he was in jail.
He came out of jail. He was sort of an old man, a broken man. He came
back with the Rosens and probably did not come back with any glory. And
probably, knowing Leonard, got a salary that would fail to recognize the
debt that he owed to him, to Milt. You have to remember that at any
given moment the Rosen brothers were worth 128 million dollars. Now that
would not have been possible without Milt Mendelson. And my guess is
that at the peak, at 128 million dollars, it would not have occurred to
them to give a few hundred thousand dollars to Milt Mendelson. It would
maybe occur to Jack. But it certainly would not occur to Leonard, but
would have been dismissed as an idea someone had articulated. So anyway
Mendelson stayed on and I don't know if there is too much more to report
D--If Milt Mendelson was the guy that helped bring about the idea of Cape
Coral, how did they decide on that piece of property, that location, as
opposed to further down the coast or further up the coast?
K--I don't know how Leonard found his way to two well-known real estate
people in Fort Myers in the year of 1957, namely William H. Reynolds, Jr.
and Tom Baker. But at that time Bill and Tom were partners in an office
downtown in Ft. Myers. My guess is is that they came to Ft. Myers and I
remember the story. Again I don't know if this is true or if this is
just a fable, but the story goes Leonard walked in, in sneakers & tennis
clothes. Leonard was not a natty dresser by any means. He would pay
a lot of money for suit. Maybe in those days when a hundred dollars was
a lot he would pay four or five hundred dollars for a suit. The suit
was generally rolled up in a ball and thrown in the trunk of his car,
underneath some telephone books and some maps and an old flat tire. But
he walked in the door of Reynold's office, we're told, I should say
"legend has it", and looked sloppy, people dismissed him and said,
"Who is this Bum?" But allegedly Bill Reynolds said, "Can I help you?"
And Leonard said, "Yes. I want to buy some land." Anywasy it ended up
to be hundreds of acres and ultimately thousands of acres and after that
tens of thousands of acres. And I know that Bill Reynolds was the main
party in terms of assembling properties for the Rosen brothers. You may
not of heard this and may not hear this from anybody else, Dave, so I've
got to digress for a minute and explain how sales were made in those days.
These were different. There was no zoning in Lee County. There was no
statewide land sales laws of any kind. And interestingly, Leonard would
have either a handshake of a written agreement to buy parcels of land.
We would, through Mendelson's relationship with the engineering firm,
prepare the map, as we would call it. And we would add this section in
here with block numbers and block numbers. Once we would sell a certain
amount of that, Leonard would then go ahead and maybe sign an auction on
v it. After we sold it with a contract, we would then go ahead and maybe
negotiate to take an auction. There was no relationship between acquiring
a piece of property. The timing is way off now compared to the right way,
the old way to do it, where we would sell it first and we would get
plenty of payments in because you needed to get 2 or 3 or 4 payments
in to make certain that you had a real good solid sale. Then if you had
enough sales the Rosen brothers would perhaps go out and get serious
about acquiring the land. But fortunately, to my knowledge, there was
never any problem. In later years, there was that problem about what's
called "double decking" where you sold a piece of property to Mr. John-
son and then later, in my opinion, by error the same piece of property
was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Farnsworth. And then that led to Mr. and Mrs.
Johnson being moved or something like that. But anyway, in the early
stages, the way it was done was the way that I just described it.
D--How big of a piece of property did they start out with in Cape Coral?
K-They started out.... I don't know if you ever had a chance to see some of
the original literature, but there is a guy named Charlie Roberts in St.
Petersburg who still has it all. Charlie was one of the early advertising
people. But not on the Jack side in Baltimore, he was on the Leonard side
D-And you say he has a lot of the documents?
K-He would have the original brochures that we used. We had a party for
Leonard's brithday about 6 or 7 years ago and Charlie came down and
he gave us some of the material and we used it that evening at that
party. I had the film of it, but unfortunately my wife cleaned house
and decided to throw it away.
D--He's in St. Petersburg?
K--So if you want to find the film, you would call Ronnie Rosen, Leonard's
son, with whom I have throughout maintained a very close relationship.
Ronnie just moved recently from Los Angelos to Aspen and his phone number
is (303) 927-4723. If you get ahold of him, he'll have a copy of that
file of Leonard's birthday, and it's an interesting piece. Because a
few of the featured players of Leonard's life were there, including Milt
Mendelson. So you could at least tie in some faces with some names.
Charlie Roberts, I don't know how to find him, but there was an advertis-
ing fellow who worked under Charlie who now is doing advertising for this
venture I'm involved with. His name is Arthur Jacobson. In South Miami,
he's at 667-7013. And Arthur could tell you how to get ahold of Charlie.
Arthur himself might have some literature on that era- Arthur was the
inventor and certainly would have material to reflect it of the great
billboard called "See the other side of Florida.' Which was an award
winner. And this was when the Golden Gate was started. Arthur's con-
cept was to rent billboards. He had dozens of them. And showed the
back side of a gorgeous woman with a magnificent body and the teasing
headline was "See the other side of Florida." This was for the east
coast of Florida to suggest that people should go to the west coast of
Florida. So Jacobson could help you get a hold of Charlie Roberts.
And that would enable you to have a picture of what we were doing.
Because I remember the property that was put on sale to begin with was
somewhere around 1200 acres. It wasn't all owned. That was also part
of the option arrangement. And then after things went well there,
Leonard then moved forward to acquire the Phipps property. That was
an important name to us then. The original founder of the Phipps family
was a man named Henry Phipps, and he was a partner of the original Andrew
Carnegie. And his descedant, probably his grandson, was Ogden Phipps,
an internationally known sportsman and playboy and a very nice gentle-
man. He had a large estate near us called the Matlacha Plantation. The
Matlacha Plantation was used by Mr. Phipps and his guests who were counts
and countessess and princes and princesses. That's how high he was on the
international social level. And ultimately, we bought the property from
Mr. Phipps for, I think, $500.00 and acre or less. And that was all part
of Leonard's excellent negotiating skill. So the property started at
around 1,000 acres but ultimately became 60,000 acres. The bigger it
got, the more unreal it became. See, 1000 acres or 2000 acres or, even
in the case of Coral Springs, 10,000 acres was doable. But as it got
bigger it just became unmanagable, it became unreasonable, it became
D--Let's back up a little bit. How did you come to be a part of the whole
K--I was working in Baltimore in the ice cream business. The company that
we bought all our products from was managed by a local family in Baltimore
and there was a nephew of the owner named Sylvan Abrahms. Slyvan doesn't
figure prominently in any of the history of Gulf American, except that
he was a very close intimate associate of Jack Rosen. Jack Rosen was a
fellow who emotionally needed to have pals, friends. I don't remember
that Jack would ever get on a airplane to go from A to B alone. He
generally was accompanied by someone, the way a movie star or a rock
singer would not ever go alone, for a variety of reasons. Not the least
of which there would be some sort of emotional comfort in having some-
body go along. And Slyvan was what you might call a spear carrier for
Jack Rosen, and therefore was despised by Leonard from the beginning to
the end. And vice versa. He despised Leonard. Slyvan and I were
friendly because we met at the ice cream plant all the time. And I don't
remember how the subject arose, but he said, "Maybe you'd be interested
in going into cosmetics business' And I really didn't know very much
about the cosmetics business. There was one name that I could remember
and that was Revlon. Anyway, he arranged for me to meet, as I recall,
Jack Rosen. From Jack Rosen I was interviewed by Sol Sandler. I was
captivated by Jack Rosen, because I could see in him that he was a
brilliant fellow, although a little on the cooky side. And after having
made the cut from Jack Rosen to Sol Sandler, who was underneath Jack.
He was always a very sweet and lovely guy. His wife died, Sylvia
Sandler and he remarried recently--several years ago to a very wonderful
woman. And I was interviewed by -Sol and then Jack called me one day and
said; "My brother is coming to town. He's basically the decider, and he
wants to interview you." And so I went in and was interviewed by Leonard.
I though we were going to talk about the cosmetics business. He said,
"What do you know about land development?" T said nothing. He said,
"Well, what do you know about real estate?" I said nothing. What about
engineering, direct mail, hard-hitting aggressive advertising? I said
I don't know anything at all about any of them. He said, "Well, I might
be interested in sending you to Florida to build a community." I'll
save you the hours and hours of stories I could tell you about how that
thing played up, just to say that finally through some suffering I paid
a very dear price. I guess I should tell you this little part, because
although I don't want to be too burdensome, you can't Leonard Rosen very
well unless you know these two little aspects. Number one: I came down
to Florida in October or November of 1957 as Leonard's guest to look at
this property. I was then about five years with this ice cream compnay
and was really thinking about moving on and so Sylvan introduced me
to these fellows and I found them to be very captivating guys. And I
thought I'd be really interested to learn the cosmetics business. I
flew down here and went over to the property in Ft. Myers with a guy
named Harry Dempsey who was a writer. He came from the carnival days
and stayed right on with the Rosen brothers for several years after this
all began. He was a very brilliant kind of a carnival carny type guy,
all of his expressions. All of his language reflected his carny back-
ground. And he and Milt Mendelson, and Charlie Hepner, and Leonard and
I went to visit the property. That was the first time I ever laid eyes
on Tom Weber. He was the onsite person then. And I can also remember
onelittle interesting aspect at that. Leonard was very excited. Leonard
was just a guy who was so up. You had to understand that. No matter what
it was he was very up, enthusiastic guy. And I can remember getting up
on top of this scraper it was called.And he got up on top of that thing
and he says, "Hepner, we're going to build a city here." Hepner says,
"Leonard, get off there. You are going to break your neck." Anyway we
looked at the property and he showed us what his dream was, and I was
pretty swept up with it. And then the time came to leave and I was to
go back to Baltimore from the Punta Gorda airport. I guess there was one
of those little private planes or commuter planes to go to Miami or
Tampa. So Leonard took me to the airport and said, "O.K. I want your
decision. I made a fatal error I regretted. I said, "I'd like to dis-
cuss it with my wife. You just didn't ever hesitate like that with
Leonard Rosen. Had I been smart, I would've said absolutely yes and
then thought it over. That was a fatal blow. At that moment and from
then on, Leonard dismissed me as if I never lived. And I went home and
after a day or so I decided that I wanted the job and I started calling
Leonard. No answer, no answer. I couldn't reach him when I called. So
then I repaired to my only refuge. I started to call Jack. He was kind
enough to (A) take my phone calls, and (B) understand that I regretted
my horrible, inexcusable faux paus. And ultimately he arranged for me to
get to see Leonard. I don't remember how long it was. It was several
weeks of agony. I know that. Because by then I was fancying myself as
a big land developer or a plantation owner. And finally.... I didn't
explain to you, but the first time I met Leonard it was before I came
down here, he hired me. I can remember saying to him, not to be a wise
guy, but I remember saying "Mr. Rosen...." He said to me, you're hired.
He said, "How much do you get paid now?" And I lied and I think I said
I was getting 200 a week and I was getting 150 a week. He said, "O.K.
You're hired, I'm going to pay you the 200 a week." I said I was getting
12,000 a year when I was really getting 10,000 a year. And he said "O.K.
You're hired. I'll pay you 12,000 a year." But then, after my unmarkable
transgression at the airport I was finally able to worm my way back into
an interview with Leonard, head to head. Who I remember I was on the
phone with him one Friday night and he was really chastising me. He was
saying, "How do I know I want you, you don't know anything about land
development, you don't know anything about real estate, you don't know
anything about aggressive, hard-hitting, direct mail advertising, mail
order advertising." All of the things that I didn't know that he had
said in the beginning were no problem, now they were all cards against
me. And I don't remember....I thing he then came to Baltimore. We met
and I was really putting on every pressure that I could. I knew a couple
of people that knew Leonard and I had them go to Leonard and tell them how
great I was. Then he was willing to see me and he said, "O.K. You're
hired." I was so relieved. He said "O.K. You're hired, effective
next Monday." Meanwhile I'd been running this company for five years,
and couldn't come next Monday and it would be the following week. So
he reluctantly agreed on that. So another long delay. A whole weak
taken out of his life to wait for me. And he says "You'll start at
10,000 a year." I said, "Leonard, you told me 12,000." He said, "That
was then." Well. I didn't say, let me thing it over some more because
I knew that would be fatal. I said, "O.K. I'll be here." And that
was a negative. I'll tell you, there were only one or two positives in
my whole life with Leonard Rosen. The next one was a positive. I showed
up for work. I was supposed to work from November to December in the
Baltimore office. You have to understand what happened. I was supposed
to be in the cosmetics business, but by then it really was pretty much
transferred over to becoming part of their land operation. And they
were going to send me....They decided they wouldn't send me down which
was a good idea on their parts, because I was good at that, and it was
a wonderful idea for me because I really loved it and I really was
learning so much, mainly form Leonard at that time. Because Jack didn't
become a factor until later. But the best decision I ever made was that
I showed up for work and was supposed to spend a couple of months learn-
ing Baltimore. And after one week I was put under Bernice Treiberg.
After I was there for about four or five days, Leonard came in and said,
"How long is it going to take this kid to learn the business?" Bernice
i/ said, "He's ready now." He says,"You mean he can leave now?" She says,
"Yes." He said, "O.K. You leave on Monday." I went home and took my
wife on some kind of goodbye party that Saturday night. On Monday I
came to the office with all my suitcases, to Leonard and Jack's Baltimore
office. It was a blizzard. So, Leonard came to me a little bit later
that days and he says to me, "Cancel your trip. The weather doesn't
look permittive." I said, "Mr. Rosen, I'm going." By then I was getting
a little bit smart. He said, "No, it's impossible. You can't go. Just
wait until the weather clears." And off he goes. I found my way to
Washington. These were the days of propeller planes. I can remember
being on the runway and watching for a couple hours. They keep coming
around the runway with the hoses to take the ice off the wings and every-
thing. The plane finally took off and I landed in Florida. The following
morning I was in the only existing company facility. It was Tom Weber's
Buick Roadmaster car. This is before the company got a jeep. We were
riding down the road and by then I was just captivated by the whole
thing. And the phone rings in his car. Now this was before the cellular
era. And it was Leonard, who then and forever after was called by Tom
Weber Mr. Rosing. He said, "Hi. Mr. Rosing, how are yu doing?" So
Mr. Rosen said to him, "Tom, I'm sending a young fellow down there by
the name of Kenny Schwartz. I don't know when he'll be there." He
said, "Oh, he's here now." So Leonard says, "Put him on." So I get
on the phone and Leonard says, "Kenny, I'm proud of you, give me back
to Weber." Now I'm fighting my way through a snow storm, not expecting
the negative conditions, going forward through adversity. That fulfilled
the highest norm of Leonard Rosen's ideas. By then I was smart enough.
I won't tell you how I finally got the 2,000 dollars back because that
would take a whole other hour. Remember, I worked for 10,000 dollars
instead of the 12,000 I was told that I was going to get.
D--I'll ask you for that story next time. Going on a little bit. I've
enjoyed this thoroughly, I really have.
K-I'm cutting everything extremely short here because I know that you want
to do this within the next couple of years.
D-Were there other developments going on in the state that were different
than what Leonard had envisioned, or was this to be...?
K--What ever you think what was the vision, you wouldn't be fair unless
you used three names. Leonard was the public figure. But there was
really never a decision of any importance made without especially the
contribution on Jack Rosen, and to a large degree, the imaginative con-
tribution of Milt Mendelson. So while it was always called Leonard's
place, which was part of the agony of Jack Rosen's life, because in many
ways Jack was more of a contributor than Leonard, but the world never
noticed it. At the time...In the first few years the Rosen brothers
had one good quality, they never took their eye off the ball. If you
came to them with 12 great ideas.... As I told you earlier. Any idea that
had to do with that business, they would listen very patiently and general-
ly would try it no matter how half-baked a scheme it sounded. If it
were legitimate. They would never do anything that on the surface was
improper or immoral, dishonest, circumventing the law. But the great
quality that they had was that they would never digress for some other
business, some other venture. So during those first several years, it
was just five or six years, I don't think that they ever took their
minds off. Meanwhile, I forgot to tell you, a couple of years after we
started, the Rosen brothers sold Charles Antele. So now they were both
free to be full time into Cape Coral.
D--So, they still owned Charles Antel for the first couple years.
K--The first couple years. Saul Sandler and'Jack stayed on and Bob Carroll
who was always a righthand administrator to Jack. And I think even
Charlie Hepner who was more a Jack man than a Leonard man right up to
the very end. Hepner stayed on. And I guess in 1959, it seemed like
many years later, but maybe it was a year later that the Rosen brothers
sold Charles Antel and now Jack was, it was obvious to anybody that the
cosmetics business at the very best had a modest growth potential, whereas
the land sales business was capable of going to the moon. So they sold
that and then Jack devoted himself with Leonard exclusively to Cape Coral.
I don't remember when the new horizons began. I guess it was in 1961 or
62 that they started the Golden Gate. As I look back, I think having
done Golden Gate and all the succeeding developments turned out to be
a bad idea. Had they just taken their enormous power and Cape authority
and devoted it exclusively to Cape Coral, I think that they would have
been enormously successful. So, your question was...
D--Let me ask you another question. I had on here about how Gulf American
was organized. In other words, what were the main divisions in the
corporation? Were they sales? Was advertising part of sales?
K--One of the great characteristics of that operation, kind of like a lot
of companies that are managed by engineers or financial people. The
7AL / great charactistic about that venture from its first day to its last
day was that sales was always the dominant factor. So if ever there
was any question as to where priority should be put, sales was always
the emphasis. That was a very great motivator to a sales person or
sales manager. The company was operated fragmentally for a while in
that once the Antell operation was sold, Jack remained in Baltimore for
reasons that could be understood if you looked at the rivalry between
the two of them. Sort of a unilateral rivalry in the sense that Leonard
didn't have any rivalry at all with Jack, but Jack had all kinds of very
difficult problems. And I guess I couldn't emphasis that problem if I
ended every sentence with mentioning it. So Jack stayed on in Baltimore
for years and I can remember very clearly that I first began to understand
what the word headache meant, and I mean that very seriously, because I
used to be called to Baltimore, and I don't even remember how often. It
I seemed like every week, but it was probably twice a month. I think I
would go up on a Friday and on Saturdays we had sort of a skull session.
By then, Jack was letting me tie up sales operations. Leonard was concen-
trating on the areas that he was particularly skilled at and that was
the financial end of the business. He was responsible for providing the
money that was needed for sales and development and other expenses. And
I remember I flew to Baltimore and often times Jack would have some rea-
son to be angry at Leonard and I would....I think, I don't really under-
stnad too much about psychology, but I think I was the embodied Leonard.
That was a source of great pain. Because I can remember more than one
occasion talking with Jack. I would put my hands up and say, "Well, let
me explain this to you." And he would stop me and say, "Don't do the
Leonard with me. Sit down." I can remember once thinking the horrible
error. Jack came to town, to Cape Coral. I saw myself the proprietor
of Cape Coral. That was also a very serious problem that ultimately led
to my demise because I was sort of the persona, I represented....Not that
anyone felt that I was the owner. Everyone knew that the Rosen brothers
were the owners, because I was very comfortable to explain that and I
was a great fan of theirs and it was a source of great pride for me to
talk about them and tell about the kind of people they were. But people
really saw me as the embodiment of the company. I was there from the
very moment that it started. I was the first one there. One particular
day Jack was in town. That was always a source of some discomfort for me
because I was generally under enormous pressure. That is why I say I
started to get headaches then because there was always something that
upset Jack about something. And I was over that. And this one particular
day he expected me to come over to the room. I came over there and I
don't know why I did it cause I was wearing tennis clothes. Jack hated
tennis clothes because tennis clothes represented to him the attire
that Leonard always wore. Ther:were a couple of things about Leonard that
just disturbed Jack. One was his womanizing. I can remember some episode
associated with that that was particularly unpleasant. And the other was
his whole casual way of dressing. When I appeared at the door wearing
tennis clothes it was another outright insult from Leonard to Jack.
Because it was another case of me emulating Leonard. That was a word he
used, "Don't emulate Leonard with me." And he sent me home to change.
There were people in the room and he said, "You go home and change."
Normally Jack would not humilate me, but he humilated me at that point.
As I said, I really never would want him to humiliate me and on a couple
of occasions he would apologize for his hot temper. But anyway I was
sent back home and I changed my clothes and I came back.
D--Did the organization of the corporation change at all throughout the
K--Yes. I think one of the things that I was fairly good at was under-
standing the company that had to go. That I couldn't be part of every-
thing. In the earliest days I was part of everything, which was very
exciting. When Jack came in, the sales leadership went from property,
where I was sort of the link between the Rosen brothers, mainly to
Leonard. When Jack came in the sales headquarters was transferred to
Baltimore. The organization was set up where the administration was in
Miami. The administration was handled by Sol Sandler and under him
I B was Jim Layden. Jim's name is probably as important as most of the names
on your list. Jim was a fellow who came out of a Firestone store or stores.
An administrative person, a very bright fellow. And he was an administrator
but had a good touch for sales. He inadvertently contributed to some of
the later problems of the Rosen brothers and of the venture. Because he
was put in charge of the long distance telephone operation. That was
an ingredient that was a source of an enormous amount of problems. I
don't know if you are aware of that, but if you ask what caused the down-
fall of the Rosen brothers, the answer would be overly aggressive selling.
By goin into long distance telephones, by going into the airplane business
and flying people in from all over the world, they were just forcing sales.
It was sort of like the passer that steps back into the backfield and
there isn't a clear-cut open receiver. You'll see a guy and you might be
able to try and force the ball in there, but the ball would get intercep-
ted. The problem with the Rosen brothers was that they forced sales.
Jim Layden was the embodiment, probably a little bit unfair, of the long
distance telephone operation. He ultimately became, by then I was his-
tory. Layden, four or five years after I left, let's say '68 or '69
when the whole wall came tumbling down on the Rosen brothers. He was
the sacrificial lamb. At that time Claude Kirk was governor and there
was bad blood between the Rosens and Kirk. Some stupidity on the part
of the Rosen brothers and probably some lack of integrity on the part of
Kirk. But as I remember there had to be a sacrifice to make some sort
of a public evidence of the rehabilitation, at least the recanting of
the Rosen brothers. They got rid of Layden. I don't know what it was
that they gave him or what they did, I don't know whether he left with
bitterness. I really have never seen Jim, maybe I talked to him once
or twice, but that's it. But he was the figure. He was second in com-
mand of the Baltimore administrative operations. Number one in command
in the administration of Sol Sandler. A very sweet and nice guy with
a moderated degree of natural aptitude for the position. He was a
phar;aicist by profession. And probably would have done better had he
not ever gone to work for the Posen brothers. Because he was sort of
indirect victim of nepotism. Sometimes when someone has a son or a
brother-in-law that hirer is really the victim of hiring his son or
brother-in-law. In this case I think Sol could have made more or his
life, had more of a sense of vDrsonal pride had he not ever been involved
with the Rosen brothers. But he was a very lovely guy. He was in charge
of the administration because he was 100% trustworthy, not brilliant.
But the Rosen brothers knew who they could trust and he stayed on with
them. And he left once or twice and came back and up to a couple months
ago he was still with them. Living here
he goes back and forth to Vegas helping Leonard out.
D-Would he be someone who would be interesting to interview?
K--Yes. A very lovely guy. YOu could find him....I wonder if I still
have Leonard Rosen's phone number in Vegas. (800) 634-6431. His
secretary's name at the time of his death was Marsha and the name of
his firm was Preferred Equities. Now Sol I don't know if Soi is
re-retired. But Sol was living right here in this neighborhood in
between his periods of service to the Leonard Rosen operation. Here it
is. 962-1296. Sol Sandler. Also he was a devout loyalist. Very large.
I don't know how many people, but I think it turned out to be hundreds
of people working in the Miami office. They built this big skyscrapper,
this 11 story building at the time was sort of the cat's meow.
D--That's the operation that Layden was overseeing?
K--That's the operation that Sol Sandler was in charge of. Jim was next
in command. There was a tension between them. But Jim Layden didn't
have one fraction of the basic integrity that Sol Sandler had. My
guess was that Layden was a bit of a opportunist. But in any case,
he won Leonard's heart. And I can remember at the time that I left
the company through all of the anger and hurt and bitterness that I
/ felt,Leonard was asking, "What do you think of Jim Layden?" Did he compromise
the company? I remember telling him that I didn't think that that was
a good idea. But anyway, Layden stayed on and actually became even more
strong in the management of the venture. I think --- was.... He of course
felt Jack's dislike because he was a Leonard man. So to answer your
question about structure. I guess that from the moment that Jack became
prominent in the company which was maybe a year or so after we started.
I think that he always had his group and Leonard had.... But I can't say
that Leonard had his group because Leonard never saw people in terms of
himself and Jack. He was oblivious to that. But to Jack it was very,
very clear. You were either a Jack man or you were' t. And so Connie
Mack and Saul Sandler and Jim Layden and Kenny Sahwartz were seen as
Leonard men. Pacelli made the transition. He was a Jack man. Hepner
was a Jack man. So there were two separate....It was funny, Paul .Venzi,
did you ever hear of him?
D--I've heard the name.
K-- Venzi was a cousin, but almost a brother to the Rosen brothers. I
remember Venzi's mother died when he was young. He was taken in by
Fannie Rosen so he was sort of a fifth child. Very lovely guy. Really
a wonderful guy. Very religious, very observant. Paul was always in-
volved in the advertising end. Paul had his own company called Paul
Venzi and Associates which was really owned by the Rosens. My guess
is that they probably never paid him too well either because of the
stomach problem that I was describing to you earlier. So Venzi would
be on the Jack side. More and more as Leonard stepped a little bit fur-
ther away and got involved in the land acquisition and finance. Pretty
much the rest of the venture fell under Jack's leadership so by then,
you either in Jack's mind a Jack man or else you were history. The only
person that I think was above that was Tom Weber. I don't think Tom was
ever considered by Jack to be someone that Jack didn't like, or that Jack
had any problem with. I think Tom was above all of that. But I can't
remember anyone else in the history of the conipany who wasn't one way or
another perceived by Jack to be a Jack man or a Leonard man.
D-If sales was the dominant feature, was construction able to keep up
with that-putting in a street or stuff like that. Or did sales far
K-Sales outstripped development which was a bit of a problem because....
It wasn't that sales outstripped development was the problem, but sales
were so strong development in itself moved so swiftly that both of them
far outstripped the selling of the community. So it was then almost a
laughing matter that some people would fly over Cape Coral to see all
these streets and fly over Lehigh acres and Port Charlotte. Remember the
three biggest development in Florida history were all in a few minutes of
one another from the air. You could fly over them and you'd see these
tens of miles or hundreds of miles of streets and canals and nothing there.
And that probably played a role in some of the ultimate problems. Because
after all these streets were paved and nobody living there they started
to get grown over and gave off a very unpleasant picture. I don't know
what it is now. I guess a lot of the streets are settled, There's
about 60,000 people living there.
D--What about promotion? Was that part of the sales and advertising was
that part of the sales?
K--Promotion was always Jack Rosen. Leonard in the very early stages. But
anything promotional, anything really imaginative or creative either came
from the mind of Jack or came from those hundreds of thousands of people
that had ideas. But the Rosen brothers always were very interested in encour-
aging. Promotions were....Well, actually both of them were very promo-
tional, but I think Jack was more promotional, more creative. Because that
was the area that interested him the most. He was interested really in
land development. He never had anything to my knowledge whatever to do
with financing. He never was on an airplane flying to different banks,
or different lenders to keep the money coming in. So....
D--Was Bob Finkernagel head of all that promotion?
K--Bob actually wasn't intended to be, but he had such a brilliant, creative
mind. He came in really to run the community. As I remember he was
the executive vice president in the Gainesville, Florida Chamber of Com-
merce. I can't remember how we met. I think it was through Alan Robert-
son who had been the head the head of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce
and then went up to become an officer at the University of Florida. I
believe that's how we met Bob. And Leonard and I interviewed Bob and I
liked him immediately and though he would be wonderful. That was an under-
statement the he would be wonderful. He came down with his wife and three
children around 1960 or '61. He really took over for me. I had really
been in charge of the community and in charge of sales. And Bob I
think worked under me and was in charge of the community, all aspects
of the community. But one of the interesting things about Bob was that
he was very promotional in terms of golf tournaments, tennis tournaments.
He always knew to put the name Cape Coral in every.... I remember this
about him. Whervever the camera would focus, there would always be the
words Cape Coral. They were always very bright. And both the Rosen
brothers liked him very much. Leonard like him more than Jack did. I
don't know why I had to say that, but that's always such an overwhelming
factor in my memory that I elude to it. Bob became part of the Jack Rosen
team in terms of various kinds of promotional ideas and was never involved
in land sales. For some reason they kept him out of sales. He never had
a direct sales responsibility. Never to my knowledge was there a sales
manager on the site or off the site who reported to him. But he was very
involved with Bernice-Freiburg. And one of the poignant recollection
when Leonard passed away was I went to Baltimore with Leonard and with
Lester Engel, my partner and spent the day with Bob Finkernagel and Ber-
nice Freiburg which was very interesting and gratifying as an experience
for me. I think of those two old veterans who worked so well together for
so many years.
called American Variety, later called American Department Stores. He
was so well-liked that that kind of creative and affirmAtive prejudice
in favor of Jewish people. Because most of those folks were country
people. They had never heard of Jewish people. But because of Sam
Posen and a few others in that community being so well-liked and such
fine people, and along came Leonard Rosen and Kenny Schwartz. We were
sort of the beneficiaries of this favorable bias. So anti-semitism was
not effective in Ft. Myers and Lee County in any way. The Chairman of the Jupiter
County Commission when I arrived was one good thing that somehow....
I don't know why I get into these things. Here I was, an ivy-league
graduate who could easily have easily become a sadistic arrogant person,
who looked down his nose at a little dirt farmer which our country chairman
was. Wilson Piggott was a dirt farmer in Ft. Myers. But instead through
some God-given gift or maybe partially due to Leonard Rosen's basic human
qualities, I developed a friendship with Wilson Piggott. Mac Jones, and
some of the other county commissioners, and I was appointed to the
first Lee County planning commission. There was no planning or zoning
in Ft. Myers at all. In either Ft. Myers or Lee County. I was appointed
to the first commission which was charged with the responsibility of
creating a zoning and planning concept, which we did. Though it may
seem strange and the other guys that identTfied with the most aggressive
developer and here he is vice-chairman of the board. Somehow that....
Chairman of the Board was originally Carl Johnson who was a wonderful
man who died. His name is on the causeway over on the Gulf of Mexico.
YOu hear that name. It is associated with something over on Ft. Myers
Beach. He was the first chairman and I was a member then. Foster Pate
who was a pretty aggressive land salesman became chairman and I became
vice-chairman. But we had a good sense of community responsibility.
We never would think to sit back and say, "Well, let somebody else do
D--Tell me a little bit more about your job during your years there at Gulf.
What were you responsible for?
K-I was responsible originally for helping to put the organization together.
I was sort of the energy,as I would describe myself, the arms and legs of
the Rosen brothers, mainly Leonard at that time.
D--Would you be considered like a general manager?
K-Yes I was. That was my title. Vice-president and General Manager of Cape
Coral. And almost everything there reported to me except the development
aspect. That always reported to Weber. Weber was understated, an absolute
delight to work with. Even in the selling situations. Once in a while
Tom was a very shy guy. Very quiet guy and really the finest person in
history of the whole venture. I regret that I've never been able to find
him. Long before you asked me to find him. No one knows where he is.
But he certainly was among the top two or three most valuable players in
the history of the venture. And he reported directly, always, to Leonard
Rosen. And later to Jack Rosen. But, as I say, he was above being ident-
ified as a Jack man or a Leonard man. He always liked Leonard very much
and vice versa. And really had an enormously responsible position be-
cause as time went on I believe we were the largest developing activity
in Florida history except for governmental work. Outside of highways or
something- where state or federal funds were being spent. We spent more
money on developing than anyone in The history of Florida. And Tom had
sole responsibility for that. And again, he would say, "I need four
bulldozers or three draglines." And Leonard would do the rest. Tom would
probably line up the resource and get competitive bids and send them on
to Mr. Rosing, as he called him. Leonard was a guy who never took over-
night to make a decision. Maybe once or twice he would say, "Let me call
you back tomorrow, Tom." But they worked very, very
well together. And my responsibility was number one to handle anyone who
came to the property. First it started by people coming by mail, not in
person. They would answer ads that we would put in Outdoor Life or
retired military magazines. People would send 20 dollars and we
would send them a contract. WE did the original administrative work in
the Fort Myers area, actually handling all the mail. It was two people
who helped us there. Milt Mendelson helped us to develop letters because
a lot of people wouldn't send us money, they'd send us letters saying,
"Well, how am I going to land there?" Or, "Hew much will it cost me to
build a house?" Or is there a hospital nearby or do you allow dogs,
or will you have a golf course and what would be par or how deep will the
water be? All these letters would come in by this many, a dozen, then
dozens, and hundreds, and thousands. And Milt Mendelson was in charge
of helping uIs to set up all kinds of responses to the letters. And we
who was a lovely woman and is still there at Cape Coral. And Gwen was
in charge of getting all of the letters answered and I believe she was
in charge of processing the contracts. We had a few administrative
people in Ft. Myers even before the office moved to M-ami. And I was in
charge of all of that. I was in charge of putting together an on site
selling port which grew ultimately to be maybe be thirty or forty sales-
people and sales managers. I started to tell you earlier that the one
thing that I think I did well was to understand that one person couldn't
run everything and then as the venture grew there had to be more people
brought along. And I think we did a good job at building people. We were
able to delegate authority to various people and put together a nice
D--Who wer the people, the groups that were directly responsible to you?
K--To begin with, 'Pacelli was responsible to me. Pacelli was a guy that we .sent
out around the country to open up brokers. He would call me every day and
he would call me from St. Louis or Chicago.. Aid I could always remember
Pacelli's early years. The one characteristic I can remember is where-
ever he went there was sales. Always there were sales, wherever he went
he was just really a very valuable player. He later sort of made the
switch and became a very strong Jack Rosen guy and that caused some pro-
blems between Pacelli and me. But Pacelli was our national guy. Connie
Mack and I were sort of co-equals on the site. I was more the energy fel-
low and Connie was more the sober, dignified, leveler, more even keel.
D--Yes, I know Connie.
K--Connie is really a wonderful man, and that is an understatement. There
was another man, Sy Reis. Did his name ever surface? He was a. pretty
nimble fellow because he would be able to make all the transitions from
Schwartz to Leonard Rosen to Jack Rosen. He stayed on pretty peaceful
terms with everybody, mainly because he was a very energetic, very
creative, very competent guy.
D--What was his job?
K--He was in charge during my era of Florida sales. He was in charge of
opening offices in Florida from which we would bring people to the
property. That was Sy's responsibility. And he reported to me and he
had his own managers in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and
St. Petersburg and Tampa. We opened offices in various cities. It wasn't
a huge deal, because we could open an office and if it didn't work out we
could close it. It didn't cost us tens of thousands of dollars. The
Rosen brothers, as I indicated to you over and over were very encouraging
to any kind effort. So if we wanted to open an office in Jacksonville,
which we did a couple of times, or Atlanta, which we did several times,
they always encouraged us to do it and they never ever recriminated if it
didn't work out. That's a very important thing to remember. No matter
what crazy sales idea you worked out, they never said, "We tried it before.
It didn't work." They'd always say, because they knew....Jack Rosen
always knew it was the man. He gave a sign that we would put up in our
office that said, "It's the man." That meant it was the man not the plan.
If you tried it seven times in a row but you found the guy that would be
the right guy and you wanted to go with him, Jack would encourage you
to go with him, because he knew it was the man and not so much the plan. So
Sy was in charge originally in the Florida land sales operation. Later
he made a very successful transition to becoming a Jack man and survived
for a good many years between Jack and Leonard long after I ended up.
D--What do you think were some of the biggest innovations made aby Gulf
in land development or sales?
K--Every aspect of the industry was either pioneered by them or improved by
the Rosen brothers. There was no idea that anyone had in the world that
they didn't learn about, that they didn't study. I think the single
greatest characteristic was their insatiable, voracious appetite to learn
and to try. That's why I keep focusing on their willingness to try, well
it was more than a willingness, it was an obcession. So anything that
anyone else did, they did even better. The Ethel Merman song, "You have
the right to do better." They had no false pride. If Chester tries some-
thing and it worked,the Rosen brothers would do it better. Twelve times
as hard. They would work 15 times as industriously and they would get
20 times the results. And the same with the Mackles and the Ratners.
They were not so much innovators as they were emulators and improvers.
The street campusing that I told you about, the OPC (Outside Public
Soliciting), they were the best at that and that caused them some
problems. Again, they got overly aggressive. That made people get up-
set with them. Their direct mail operation was the best in terms of
getting people to send them coupons or money or questions. They were
the best at opening up offices around the country and around the world.
Not always without problems, but Jack insisted that they had to invade
Europe and I don't think he ever made any money there. He opened up
offices in Europe and that was a matter of great pride for Jack and he
probably stuck with that a little too long. As a matter of fact, I
remember Jack died hours after getting off a plane coming from his
European operation. But everything they did, the opening of offices,
the advertising, they were.... They did everything really well, mainly
because of two things. Number one, they were basically, inherently
very creative, capable guys. Number two, they outworked everybody
D--Did they sense competition with the Mackals or with Port Charlotte or
with you know...?
K--They never disliked anybody. They were, until this Joe Klein episode
arose. which was a tragedy--they really never had any problems with
anybody. We met when I was running the Cape Coral operation. I met
with the Mackles and someone from Chesters organization. And we formed
some sort of the land fills industry association. Nothing much came of
it. The Rosen brothers, if there was such a thing as putting money to-
gether to create a seal that said member of the Florida land sales assoc-
iation, we abide by the high ethics which animate this association. The
Rosen brothers would have contributed to that. There was nobody that
competed with them. They were really, I think it's fair to say, there
was only one guy who was really as great as the Rosen brothers, and that
was Herman Pearl. He was a friend of mine. He gave me this sculpture
that he did. He used to do sculpting in his home as a hobby. He was
a lovely guy. He was probably pound for pound the second or third
greatest land salesman in Florida history. I would put Jack and Leonard
Rosen as number one and Herman as number two.
D--What was his last name?
K-Pearl. He was out of New Jersey. He' was associated with the Mackl'es and
with Chesler. And he was wiped out in what I describe as an anti-semetic
Putch. But theMackles, got rid of Chesler and then afterwards they came
in and fired Herman Pearl and his worldwide group of people. Herman was
the greatest sales manager that I ever knew. Greatest motivator that I
ever knew. So he was....But again, he was no enemy to the Rosen brothers.
Leonard and he had a nice relationship. I don't know how well he knew
D--Let me ask you a question on that whole issue. Was anti-semetism in.
different things? Did they experience that a lot?
K--First of all let me give you a positive because I guess maybe like a lot
of Jewish people I tend to be overly sensitive to the issue. And
particularly when you go to a little town like Ft. Myers where there
really were no Jewish people. The positive side that I always look back
on especially fond of. The treatment we were accorded by the people of
Ft. Myers and Lee County was without exception, exemplerary. That's one
of the things that I enjoyed very much and I think that if someone said,
"What did you do good?" I think probably that I helped to create a good
feeling in the community. I was active in the community. I eventually
became cochairman of the United Way and I was on the Symphony Board and
I was on the Girl Scout Board. I was president of the Synagogue. The
treatment accorded there was just nothing but magnificent. Part of that
was due to the warmth and the charm of Leonard Rosen. Part of it was
due a citizen of the community, Sam Posnerwho later became my partner
when I left the Rosen brothers, when I was drummed out. I wanted to
stay in the neighborhood so I went into a venture with Sam Posner, a
department store in Ft. Myers. He was such a lovely man. He was a re-
tailer. And he was so well-liked in his
little five-and-ten cent store called the Ft. Myers Variety Store, later
it." For instance when racial problems arose, I was named to the I think
it was called the Lee County Bi-racial Commission, or something like that.
And I think we helped to avoid any ugly episode in the community. I
remember I had the privledge of working with the.newspaper editor,
whom I really liked, Bill Spear Was he before your time? When did you
say your father came here? (William R. Spear)
K--I don't know if Bill Spear was gone by then, but he was just a really
wonderful man. He reminded of that fellow.... Every once in a while,
there was a journalist who stood up for justice and decency. One of
them won the Pul'tizer Prize. I can't remember what his name was now.
Bill Spear in that little community of Ft. Myers was a voice of reason
and grace. That helped the community to get through a difficult period.
So anyway, I'm only pointing out to you that the message from the Rosen
brothers known through the world was that you went into a community and
you accepted your responsibility. You worked industriously. I don't
remember it happening, but if there was a ballet company that would
start in Ft. Myers, I would have the authority to make a pledge, because
I knew that that would be what the Rosen brothers would want. Not be-
cause it would help them to sell more land or that it would help us to
become heroes in the community, but because it was just the right thing
to do. You didn't go into a community just to take, you also had to make
your contribution. So I think we did that and I think that was part of
why we enjoyed a nice relationship. To get back to your question of
anti-semitism. The Mackals, in my opinion, were out and out anti-semites.
Admiral Hunt of Coral Ridge was a notorious anti-semite. A great business
man and pound for pound the greatest person in Florida real estate. But
< ^it played...
I don't know that / Leonard Rosen always felt that it did. If you said
good morning to Leonard in the wrong way, he would assume it was because
you were an anti-semite, even sometim-s later when he found out you were
Jewish, which happened in one case that I can remember. But that was, I
would say, a major factor. As the Rosen brothers were falling, I think
it's fair to say that some of the people who particularly enjoyed their
fall were some of the people who were seen as anti-semites.
D--Well, to kind of skip a little bit. I've done a little bit of reading
and it's talked about how Gulf was accused of a lot of unethical sales
practices, lot switching and stuff like that. You mentioned a little
bit about this before, but do you feel there was basis just for that, or
do feel like that was really overblown?
K--I wasn't around when that happened. I don't mean to wash my hands of it.
D--'66, '67 and there is when the charges were brought up.
K--I think it's really unfair of me to say everything was gold and magnifi-
cient when I was there and then practices changed after I left. That
would not be appropriate. I know the fellows who were in charge of the
operation. The guys in charge of WATS were Jim Layden and Ed Bryan. And
these were guys that were honorable guys. Ed Bryan was sweet and nice
and decent. He was the fellow in charge. I don't know what happened to
him, whether he's still alive, but I know that Ed Bryan would never
consciously do anything dishonest. But more important, the Rosen brothers
would never ask him to do anything dishonest. That doesn't mean that they
didn't screw the thing up, that doesn't mean that they didn't do wrong,
but I know there was no /there was never called for selling the property
to Jones and then switching him over and giving the same property to Smith.
I don't know what it was that caused all those allegations and I know it
was ruinous and I know it was tragic. And I can remember as an outside
spectator with a tremendous sense of nostalgia even back then, with no
bitterness. Because I think that all my bitterness evaporated about a
week or two after I left the company and was replaced by a fond feeling
of at least being a sideline booster of theirs. I just hope that they
were the-victims of their own greed, their own over-ambition, their own
absence of moderation. I think that everyone got ,wept up in that.
D-Do you think that.... The sales practices you would say would be more
characterized by hardnose, aggressive sales as opposed to things il-
K-The thing that I think.... I don't think the lot switching matter that
you aluded to was something that would in any way 'be doneby design.
Not that that forgives the fact that it happened, but what I think would
be worthy of criticism is the fact that they became so enslaved to in-
creasing their volume. Increasing to a degree artificially their.:..As
you understand they were a public company. In a public company you are
always concerned about the price of your shares. The way that you get
the price of your shares up is by your P.E. ratio, the Price-Earnings
Ratio. You have to get your earnings up. I think if they had not been
a public company, somehow they had a way to finance themselves without
S/ having to be concerned with being o the pressure of the public,
I think they could've built a wonderful venture. And I think that that
probably is the difference between what ultimately happened to them and
happened to general development and happened to Deltona, which was not
good, compared to what happened to Coral Ridge Properties and to Arvida.
Coral Ridge Properties did become part of Westinghouse, but they were
never under pressure to be, they were never reported in the daily presses,
what their price was. And Arvida was in later years. But they were both
much more soberly managed without that pressure. I think that was right
in there the root of the ultimate demise of the Rosen brothers' venture.
D--Talk a little bit about that early year or two in Cape Coral. What was
some of the day t' day stuff? How many hours a day did you work? Was
it just sun up to sundown.
K-It was just probably for a young fell ow as ideal as it could be. I had
been in the Marine Corp in World War II. I had then gone to Wharton.
School and then had sort of become kind of an Ivy League guy in terms
of living in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore. And that probably
would have been the full range of my perspective in life had I not gone
from there to ....
D--You were talking a little bit about the early years, in Cape
Coral. How it was being in a new community and stuff like that.
K--I think that as one looks back the program was run rather well, mainly
by Leonard Rosen and Tom Weber in those days and we did a lot of things
right. We did a couple of things wrong. The thing we did right was the
S way we handled the community. I think it was wise of the company to put a person
on the ocene. on the property. Not neccesarily tha; it was Kenny Schwartz,
but I think the company was there with a sense of responsibility enabled
the community to get through its early stages. Because we moved people
there. We were the first family to move there. I moved there in April
of '58 and then my family came down from Baltimore in June of '58, We
were the first family to live there and then as families were coming into
the community, I think we handled it very well. We did such things as
Leonard Rosen would send a basket of fruit or something like that. He
never forgot little things like that. And those little touches, even up
to the first couple hundred families, he always sent something. And he
had a very nice gracious touch. And I think that we built in those
early stages very nice relationships. And they helped to carry us through
very good times and a couple of tough times. You eluded in here to the
bridge. That was a very traumatic event. Probably as I look back, one
of the most.....
D--You were talking about the Cape Coral bridge.
K--I can't remember a lot about except that to me it was a source of personal
disappointment that people would have argued against the bridge. Our
motive was pretty geniune. Our aspirations were to make sales easier and
to make it easier for people who live there. This was a typical case of
Leonard Rosen's determination. One of the things about Leonard Rosen's
funeral that disappointed me so much was that the Rabbi, who knew Leonard
very, very well would be to capture the try and the power that Leonard
had to achieve an objective. He was a guy who not allow any opposition
to stand in his way. I always felt that Leonard Rosen could put us on
the moon five years earlier than we ultimately got there. His powerful
"single-mindedness. Leonard Rosen decided that we-were going to have
Sa bridge across the Caloosahatchee River.
D--Had that always been part of the plan?
K--Pecularly, David, that was a source of problems because a couple of our
sales managers started to promise it. And I had the responsibility to
remind them that they had no right to make such a representation. I
didn't want it talked about. And the biggest fight I ever had in all my
years was with a guy named Petrie. And ultimately he became the two big-
gest enemies that the company ever had in my era. Or the biggest enemy
we had in my era was Petrie and later Joe Klein became a much more impor-
tant enemy. But Petrie kept talking about this bridge and he promised a
bridge and finally I fired him because of that. And he opened a big sign
up that said "Lots. 40% off." This led to years of incrimination and acts
of violence on our part and retaliation on his part. And escalations and
I put big trees up between one place and the other to block out his of-
fice and it was not a period of great dignity on my part. Probably
characterized mostly by pettiness, But anyway, more and more became
sensible to think in terms of having a bridge across the river. There
was a separated episode that evolved at this point on my part. Where the
guy who owned the land where the bridge was going to go. That was also
not a moment of great pride in my life.
D--Tell me a little bit about that.
K--There were two fellows named John O'Han who lived up in New York state
and his brother-in-law Sam Nahama. They bought, through the good sales-
manship of Eddie Pacelli and Kenny Schwartz a piece of land located on the
Caloosahatchee River. It was decided through our engineers that that was to be the
Cape Coral side of the bridge. And then Because of my close friendship
with them, I went to them and started nego tiating to buy the property or
trade the property. Originally we agreed pretty much, but then as time
went by, this is separate from the community dispute. O'Han and Nahama
kept escalating their demands. Meanwhile Nahama was living on the proper-
ty. He and his wife and children were very close to me and vice versa
"as were most of the people in the community in its early
stages. As the bridge fight grew, as the disagreement of the bridge
grew, for the first time surfaced some hostility in varying degrees. The
smaller aspect of the acquisition of that property had to do with the
fact that more and more O'Han and Nahama, particularly O'Han was esca-
lating what he wanted. And I remember at one point he wanted 100,000
shares of stock in the company. Finally we were in a situation in my
office, I can't remember which office it was but I think it was in the
office onthe /A because I can remember that it was a wooden building.
I can remember that the building was shaking. I kept saying to him,
you could describe. almost with a passion, my commitment whether it was
right or wrong, I was so swept up with this thing. I said, "You could
describe...." I was at my desk here, O'Han was where you are and Sam
Nahama was verr there. And was there a sales manager named Harry Hirsch,
a little chunky guy about five foot five, a really nice "uv. Harry was
outside with my secretary. I said to O'Han, "You can describe your chanz
of mind any way you want to, but there's only one word that I would apply
to it. You're a welcher." I k-pt saving the word w-'lch. I said it so
many times that he said, "You better not say that word again." Finally
about the eleventh time that I called him a welcher, because I knew for
sure that that word bothered him, he finally advanced on me. AT which
point I must of hit him about five times right in the face. Sam Nahama
was a very strong guy who really liked me, and-he was trying to break it
up. Meanwhile Harry Hurst came in and he tried to break it uT, and I can
remember the building shaking. That whole episode took place and I guess
it took maybe a minute or two, it was one of two classic fist fights I had
during my career with the Rosen brothers, the second of which caused my
demise and I'll tell you about that a little later. But anyway, I
remember two things. One, he preferred charges against me, now whether
they were criminal or civil or both, I don't remember. But I remember
that Rosie Pauses Pacelli's cousin, Frank Pavice was the county prose-
cutor. And I remember that Bill Carmine who was a central figure in
the whole Gulf American story, a lovely guy who was a Ft. Myers attorney,
who later became the chief counsel for the company in Miami. He repre-
l L sented me and we went before Pavice, and I remember him finally
saying that even though I struck the first several blows that his ad=
vancing on me, this was the judicial decision made by this prosecutor,
the fact that John advanced on me was sufficiently threatening that I
had the right to use my fists. So I got through that and I don't remem-
ber if there was also a lawsuit. The criminal suit didn't go and the
other part also was dropped and that was the end of my first fist fight.
We made a deal with O'Han, I don't remember what we gave him, but anyway,
we finally agreed with them and we got this piece of property that we
needed that would be the Eastern terminus of Cape Coral Parkway. As you
1/ go east past Del prado Parkwair the Cape Coral Bank is on your
right and as you keep going you get on the bridge. The bridge goes over
to the other side, whatever they call that area. In Fort Myers, I forget
what they call it.
D-I believe on the Cape Coral side it's called Harneys Point.
K-Yeah. You're right, it was called Point and the other point was
called Red Fish Point down in. That's where I lived, down by Red Fish
Point. He was a figure with the Seminole Wars, Anyway, so we set-
tled up with O'Han and Nahama and made peace with them. And then came
the real fight which was the fact that some of the citizens of the
community, for various reasons, mobilized to fight the bridge and I
describe that as the most traumatic recollection I have in my life.
Because the tension associated with the voting.
D-Why would they oppose the bridge?
K-Something to do with privacy. Something to do with enmity towards the
company. Something to do with the battle between Tetrie and me. Petrie
aggressive recruiting of people through whatever methods were convenient.
D-Let me back up real quick. Do you know how much was paid for land?
K-I don't have any recollection at all of what we gave O'Han.
D--I'll look that up.
K-I seem to remember we gave him something like triple what he paid and
that was in my mind fair enough and we weren't going to give anymore.
I don't know why he was so stubborn, whether the Rosen brothers were
coaching, I don't know. But I was the leader of the campaign, and I
usual I invested with my customary over-reaction passion. I can't remem-
ber an awful lot about it, except we created a citizen's group called
The Citizens Committee for the Bridge or something like that. And the
fella in charge of that was, the headman was Carl Lowell Mills. One of
the many really super.... We had such a great community, I guess that's
why I loved it so much. The people there were just, almost as if they
were hand-selected to be planners. A lot of them were people who were
in there fifties and sixties and seventies, but there was some, I don't
know how to describe this to you, but there was some kind of magic about
that whole community. There was something that Lehigh Acres never had and
Port Charlotte never had. There was some kind of magic associated with that
whole venture. That's why I was so passionate about it, why I loved it
so much. I raised three of my children there, I had six children. It
was just a very, very unusual set of circumstances. The Bridge battle,
therefore, to me there was hardly anything I was objective about. So I
think, I regret to say this, but if a person wasn't in favor of the
bridge, that meant he was my enemy. And I remember we fought very bit-
terly. I remember the night the vote was taken and we won the vote, and
I guess I never had a triumph like that before or since. I can remember
calling my mother and Jack. I can remember Leonard was in Miami and
Jack was in Baltimore and I remember being so happy that we won
the vote and eventually we built the bridge.
D-Now that vote was a referendum.
K-It was a referendum of the members of the community. Now including, I
know we had another enemy on the other side. We had other enemies on the
other side of the bridge. One of them was a guy named SuuHtiin. He was
a well-to-do Clevelander. He was a friend of the coach of the Cleveland
Browns, at that time, Paul Brown. Paul Brown used to come down to the
Sutphin farm for vacation. Somehow I know Sutphinwas in it, I don't know
if Paul Brown was in it. But feelings were very bitter. It was a very
intense period. It was 1961. sort of the peak of my triumph years.
Anyway, we won the vote and the bridge got built. As I remember, what-
ever bitterness there was, even between Petrie. and me, I remember working
for Petree's son. He had a nice son named Petrie Junior. I wrote a
letter for him to get inot boarding school, later he became a success-
ful attorney. He practicing in Miami now. I didn't know much about
greys. Everything was black and white.
D-I understand there was some resistance on the Ft. Myers side or from the
county commission to the bridge as far as putting up a bond or not sure
whether the bridge..."'
K-The financial arrangements were on the surface difficult, but were total-
ly....All concerns about that were totally wiped away because Leonard
Rosen guaranteed the bridge. Leonard Rosen, as I said earlier, wanted
the bridge to be built. He said he would pay for it himself if he couldn't
get the financing. Maybe that the bridge vote had to do with a bond. It
was a referendum to improve the bond issue, but I think that Leonard
said that even if the bond wasn't approved he would put up the money to
build the bridge. He wanted to have the citizenship build the bridge,
and ultimately they did. And then, as I remember, whatever ill-will had
been created. I don't mean to minimize the intensity of the ill-will
because that would be a unfair question of about how everything went
those days. Cause everything was a labor of love and I had a great pas-
sion. But we got past that and the bridge got built.
D-Kind of backtrack just a little bit more, and we'll be done fairly soon
here. In your opinion, who were the one or two or three most important
individuals, besides the Rosens, in the early success of Cape Coral.
K-Connie Mack was an important figure because of the grace and dignity and
refinement of Connie. Bob Finkernagel came in and solely took over part
of what Connie did and part of what I did. And he was certainly an im-
portant figure. Bob had a great instinct for the right thing to do, in
terms of building a community. His history as a Chamber of Commerce
executive was very important in the end. And he had.... and even to today,
he unfortunately suffers from Parkinson's disease now, but he always was
remarkably bright. The best illustration I can give you of Bob. Long
after I left the company, I still remained friendly with Bob. A certain
arose where I had to get ahold of Loretta Young, the movie star. And I
knew for certain how to do it. I called up Bob and said, "Bob, will you
please get me Loretta Young's phone number?" Somethime between an hour
and three hours later he called me wth Loretta Young's phone number.
That's still a capsule description of Bob Finkernagel. If you wanted
something to be done, smoothly and excellently, Bob Finkernagel. He was
very well-liked in the community, very well respected. He was a real
professional. He wasn't in the real early days, because, as I said,
that even a couple of weeks........But he came in I guess around 1960.
He came at a very opportune moment, because the community was beginning
to grow and my sales responsibility was growing and it was sensible to
have.... Connie was working on a lot of other matters. Connie was a
member of the bord of directors of the company and did a lot with
Leonard Rosen and with Jack, mainly with Leonard. And so Bob really
took over the community. That was something that should never be min-
imized. You have to understand the character and the quality of the
community was such an essential ingredient. That was different cor-
pletely from whatever the world will ever remember about the Rosen
brothers. Because people like the Rosen brothers and trusted the
Rosen brothers. If the the Rosen brothers made a statement or Bob Fin- _
kernagel or Connie Mack or Kenny Schwartz made a statement there were
no questions, would they do it? We said we'd build a road and they
knew a road would get built. I f we said that we would do something
to help a church get started or a snyagogue get started or sponsor some-
thing for the youth of the community. There was no question. It was
just that kind of teamwork and committment. There was nothing that was
ever even questioned.
D-Anyone else in those early days you can attribute responsibility.
K-On the site or overall?
K-It was, I tried to make clear, the unargueble that the two invincible
people were Leonard and Jack Rosen. Interchangeably and by far more
important than all the rest of the humans being combined., I would
say Tom Weber was critical.
D-While you're on Tom Weber, tell me a little bit more about him.
K-Tom was a very quiet gentleman who.... I don't even know if he was a P.E.,
a professional engineer, by degree or by license. Tom had been travelling
around the world building such things as air bases. He had been to the
Azores before he had come with us. I don't know if he was the number
one person, I think he was maybe with some big company named Perrini, or
<' / MorrisonTnudson You've heard of the companies, worldwide development
construction companies. Writing up the contract and Tom might have
benn there representing that company. I don't remember and he found one
another, but he was definitely the most magic of all the ingredients,
that mutual discovery. Tom, as I indicated, was responsible for every
decision associated with development and his judgment and teamwork with
Leonard was so distinctive that in that context, one could start a
sentence and the other could finish it. Tome's contribution was
really great. Who else was important? Bernie Herzfeld was one of the
names you have. Bernie was a Baltimore lawyer. he was somewhat unsung
during the early years. he and another gentleman named George Lond6on who
was the accountant for the Rosen brothers. Herzfeld and London, the
attorney and the accountant, respectively were part of the Rosen
brothers' operation from before Cape Coral, probably until after Gulf
American ended. And Bernie ultimately became chairman of the board of
the company, after this whole ugly situation, again I was gone, but what
I can reconstruct. Hertzfeld became chairman of the board of the company.
He was a very soft-spoken gentle man. And he took over the company, I
third if nothing else to give a cosmetic appearance., Because by then
the Rosen brothers were so persona non grata everywhere. They really just spoiled
every line they were associated with, so irreparably that Bernie Herz-
feld came in as Chairman of the Board., And I don't remember if when he
was in charge if the company went bankrupt, I can't recall that part.
So he was an important player. Let me look at this list., Of all the
names on here, I would say Weber, Herzfeld and Finkernage! in an impor-
tant position., Sanborn.., no. Sandler, not particularly, Connie Mack,
not particularly,, Hepner, I would say, is probably one of the most
important names on here outside of Weber., Hepner was very close to
Jack Rosen., And he grew from being an advertising only person to a
full point sales executive. And ultimately, became the president of
S-, the company. The Rosen brothers left. There was anti-semetic,
wipe but- in one afternoon, I think 15 people were destroyed, 11
of them were Jewish, the other two were Finkernagel and a guy named
Bill Baron, for all we know the other people might've thought they
were Jewish too. 13 people were wiped out in one afternoon. It was
the Friday after the GAC people took over. They all went off in there
different directions. I can't remember the timing, it's very important.
But anyway, Hepner, wherever he went ultimately was contacted by the
GAC people. You have to remember coincidences. Gulf-American Corpora-
tion by then was the name of the Rosen brothers entity. It sold out
something like 180 million dollars. The company was owned about 2/3
by the Rosens and aobut 1/3 by the public. So the consideration for
the purchase was about 180 million dollars in GAC stock. So inci-
dently GAC which used to be called General Acceptance Corporation out
of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Coincedently bought a company which had
the same initials, Gulf American Corporation. So when the GAC people
came down, a fellow named HaywardWills came down. I never met him, but
for everything I ever heard about him, he was a pretty nice gentleman,
who just got involved in something that was far, far, far too much for
him to handle., He surrounded himself with people who I don't think were
that suitable for this industry., After the wipe out of these fellows, the
Hayward Willis people contacted Hepner., And as I remember, they hired Hepner
as president of the company under a built-in, locked- in secure contract,
which was for me is a strange way of business, because it made me feel
good because they were doing a little retribution or justice. Hepner
came back for a couple of years and he brought in Finkernagel. They
were very close. They travelled all over the world., Finkernagel had
a much nicer toudh when it came to people., Hepner was basically quiet.
D-So they headed up GAC properties.
K-Yeah., Hepner was the president of GAC properties and Bob Finkernagel
was sort of, I don't know what title Bob had, but he was the people
person. He helped. First of all, I remember, he organized the visits
from Charlie Hepner among clerical people and administrative people, which
Hepner would never on his own do. He was basically too shy or wouldn't
even think of it. But Finkernagel always had a nice touch about him.
I don't remember how long they lasted or what finally happened, whether
Hepner was president when the company went down the drain, or what, I
D--Well, just briefly, I've only got a few minutes left of tape. I wanted
to ask you something. A couple other people on this list or weren't
even on this list. I've read EileeneBernard's book. Tell me little
bit about her. What position did she have? I understand she was
secretary to Leonard.
K-No. She was not a secretary., She was a writer. She was a public
realtions person., I can't remember what her histroy was. She came
form upstate New York. She was a woman I lover very much. I really
was just very fond of her,. I can't remember why we originally hire her,
but she made it part of that whole procedure to answer all those letters
and everything. But eventually, we asked her to create a newspaper, some-
thing like a house publication, designed not for the employees but for the
property owners. And from there she did a brilliant job.
D-What was that called?
K-That was called the Cape Coral Breeze. The Cape Coral Breeze was a house
publication which later became owned by a guy named Richard Crawford, He
was a good friend. He was a stern, typical Colonel. On a given after-
noon, when Hepner and Finkernagel, when the wipe out took place.
[As long as you don't use my name, you can ask me anything. I'm a
prime source.] When the wipe out took place, Hepner was fired,
Finkernagel, Bill Baron and ten other people. [Ten, maybe 25.]
Thirteen people went on a given afternoon. [There was another level,
like that guy, the one out in California] Rollnick. (When Rollnick went.)
David asked me if there was any anti-semetic overtone to aspects of the
industry. I said there were two levels of anti-semetic overtone. One
was in the early stages of us versus the Mackles and the secondly in
later years when the new GAC people came in I felt there was., You always
told me nice things about Heyward Wills. [In my opinion, Hayward Wills
was a good guy.] Right, and I reflected that to David. Anyway it was
after that that Hepner resurfaced and came back as president and I remember
that a distinguished lawyer represented Hepner, you and the other guy to
get the right kind of contract. The unbreakable contract. Was it then
that he hired such people as Rollnick & Finkernagel. [Finkernagel
resurfaced] Before he was fired, was he the president? [No. Under
the Rosen brothers, when Leonard stepped down, I think Bernie Herzfeld
was acting president.] No. Chairman. Jack was president. Herzfeld
I explained to David, came in becuase of the fact that the cosmetic as-
pect called for, [Gently it was terminated to make peace with them.,]
Yeah. I told him., (Layden was terminated. Mendelson was sent out to
Alaska) Is that far enough away? [I remember, one time we had a party
and Leonard was at the end, going away, and Leonard was carrying on.
H yward jumped up on the table, Leonard's dining room table. He said
something very cute, something to the effect that somewhere way back in
my history, I must've been Jewish, because in Hayward S., Wills the
"S" stands for Sydney. Hayward was a very egalitarian guy. The other
guys so looked down their noses at us because they thought they thought
they were more educated or more formal., They had one guy and I forget
his name, who was a real killer. He came with Hayward., The guy who
was transforming GAC out into this big empire.] Stratner [Stratner]
Wasn'tFerguson also a very damaging person? Ferguson was a guy who
destroyed Claude Kirk. He was his assistant. He destroyed Lou Perrini.
[Ferguson didn't have a brain.] He was a dangerous. [Whatever you
asked him, he didn't understand a question.,] He was a lightweight.
[But he knew how to protect himself. Hayward was a very, looked like
he came out of a German planning committee. That's what he looked
like. He walked around like that.] He knew Stratner. [How much
did that desk cost? Who determines who buys desks? He was that kind of
guy. He never understood the business. Hayward understood the business,
he just couldn't execute. He would turn out to be an alcoholic.] When
they sold the company, Lester [I never liked him.]. When the Rosen bro-
thers sold the company and were allowed to take and contract two people
with them, they took Lester and Hayward. After Hayward spent the month
with us, he like his own people. Look at that list. [Hayward liked the
booze and the girls., Hayward's a very nice guy, a very clean-cut fellow.
Went to Columbia University, a Columbia grad. Took over his father's
business when it was going down.,] That was General Acceptance. [Yeah.,
Turned it around.] I thought it was Bedford-Wills,. [He was very, very
unaggressive guy. Very big personality., Nice guy to be with, pleasant
guy to be with. He went out and got a couple of guys to give him very
big bank loans and then he would reloan the money, rediscount the money.
And he did a good job at that.,] Tell David who was important among these
people., he real important players. [Well, Tom Weber was a real impor-
tant player, but he was a technicrat., Bernard Herzfeld was off premises
and was only involved in the major fleet decisions., He was not a player,
he was an advisor. Solomon Sandler, I would consider him an important
player. Finkernagel was important in the sales sense., Sol Sandler, I
did not know. I knew the name.,] He was on the community, very nice.
He ran the country club. [Finkernagel was important. Finkernagel was
important in the sales sense. Saul Sandler was another important player,
Connie Mack was important in the sales. Hepner was important, very impor-
tant. Eddie Pacelli was very important. Maddlone was a technicra. but
an important player. Bob Carrell was not an important player, but he was
a technicrat-. Johnny Cavalier was definitely not an important player.
In fact he was very, very, low-down in the scheme of things. Ronald
Crandell, these are really names. That's the guy we had to get a lawsuit
out to track down. He was in a room with a girl. I vowed that it was
one of the greatest moments of my career. He left the company and we
had a lawsuit. I was playing lawyer in those days. He was avoiding ser-
vice of process and he left home and I knew he was somewhere between
Melbourne, Orlando, and Tampa. I found him. I found the son of a gun.
And I had the guy serve him when he was in bed. This guy came out of Big-Eight
firm. He was definitely not an important player. I liked him, but he
lost his mind. Milton Shapiro was simply a second-line technicrat. ] We
agreed on the players, right? [Tom Weber was probably the most important
technicrat aside from Bill Carmine in the company.) He had never heard
of Carmine. (Carmine was a major player, no questions asked.) Carmine
was the head council and Lester worked under him. (But Carmine had a lot
to do with a lot of things that happened there. A lot of important things.)
Probably one of the most loyal guys. (And a very nice guy.) He got wiped
out also. (Carmine was a guy that if a guy asked for a refund or a guy
made the slightest hint at anything, Carmine gave him his money back. He
just gave a refund. He was a guy that loved the company and he tried. I
remember, I was there that day when he left. He told Leonard that he was
never going to do that Fakahatchee strand piece. Because it was criminal
to take that water off the land. That's what he said. He was a quail
hunter. He was an environmentalist before there were environmentalists.
He just never knew it.)
D--And this was who?
K--Bill Carmine. He was like you. He left high school and went into the
service and worked as a lineman for five or six jears before he ever went
to college and law school. (Carmine, he was a wonderful man. I think that
company would have gone down the drain years ahead if it wasn't for Bill
Carmine putting the brakes on a lot of hairbrain things.)
D--Is Carmine still around?
D--(I don't know. Even when he sued the company, and after he left, he real-
ly didn't put up a defense. I must tell you that. When Leonard said...
When he got to court, I was there and he didn't put up a defense.) Where
they on speaking terms? (Yeah) That's one thing Itold David, that the
one thing about Leonard during all those years he was a guy who never ever
burned a bridge. In the last moments of his life... Well, he burned a
bridge with Lester and me....But in all those years he would never allow a
bridge to be burned, right? The answer to this question is an important
part of what David is trying to do on his master's
degree thesis he's doing., Something to do with the question of ..,.Gulf
American was accused of unethical sales practices such as lot switching,
refusing to refund money, promising rapid increases of lot values. Were
these charges groundless in the end? I'm adding this part. How much of
this was inspired by the Rosen brothers? How much of this was motivated
by the Rosen brothers? [Well, let's handle this one at a time. They
never switched a lot on anyone to cause that person harm or for the
purpose of switching lots because they had something up their sieve,.
They switched those lots because they really screwed up. They put peo-
ple on land that they didn't own. The major lot switching was for the
public's benefit., They put them on 8 acres of lot that they could never
drum up to get their water off. I remember when taht happened. So they
did switch the people. They did switch them knowingly, but it cost them
money to switch them because they switched those people onto better ground.
They never would switch a person onto lesser ground to get more for the
other ground. They never thought like that., They weren't even smart
enough to think like that. That never happened.] I explained to David
that the personal charge of that was basically Sandler, Layden, Bryon.
tBryone and Layden were the switchers.] Yeah, but Bryon was legitimate.
They never switched the guys to put him into lesser ground because they
discovered oil., [They switched the ground because the ground that they
put them into originally was no God D-- good, period.] Question num-
5-7 ber two. Since you were to a large degree responsible for refusing the
refund money. [That's the biggest bullshit in the world.] There was
never a case of refusing to refund money. Even Leonard wasn't justified
Even when a person wasn't justified and would write and say the family
was ill, Lester or Bill Carmine would send the money back. It was a
very..,,.. [It didn't mean anything to us, because we would usually resold
the land usually at a higher price., Promising rapid increases in lot
value, I think that was an area where slesmen did get a little bit out
of hand, but the Rosen brothers original control was lessened as the com-
pany got bigger. That was an area where there was too much aggressive
salesmanship., I told David earlier this morning that one of the bad
turning point in the company was. The two bad turning points in the
company were A. the telephone operation, B, The airplanes and C basically
buying too many properties and having too many ventures going,. [Yeah., I
believe you're right. I think the biggest thing that they ever did
wrong there, which was not done intentionally, it was just sheer inept-
ness and enthusiasm. Was they sold the property originally in Cape Coral
at too low of a price, ] $990 for an 80' by 100' lot, [They couldn't
deliver at that price. They were very naive., They never factored in the
construction, seveh years from now, They were very simplistic. So
then when all that stuff started to catch up with them because a lot of
lots did increase in value, If your sold a lot for 990 and it cost you
2500 to improve it, you're making a lot worth 2500 dollars., It's got
to be worth 2500 dollars. Or 4000 or 5000. That's what got them into
acreage by the way. Because they had really resisted there was a fac-
tion in there that strongly resisted acreage.] This is very important.
[Nobody really wanted to do acreage sales. Underlying all this is the
pecularity about the Rosen brothers was most people who sell swampland
they take their money and run. They never had the intention of leaving.
They never took anybody's money And when they promised a golf course, they
had the intention of putting three in. They were really living this dream.
Maybe one the day they started and I wasn't there, maybe they intended
to take everybody's money and run, but when they were there, they were
really building a city.,] They never intended to take anybody's money.
That's what Lester just said. They never took any money out of it. They
gove very small salaries, they were never lavish livers. [In 1965, not-
for show, Leonard was driving a Ford, two-door, white Ford.,] I don't
think that they ever had a Cadillac., They were modest., [They weren't
selling stock, millions of dollars worth., They had 66% of the company.
) So if they screwed the stockholders, they were screwing themselves. And
ever unloaded- their stock and they were convinced that they were going
to build this wonderful city and go down in history like the Vanderbilts
and Rockerfellers and everyone else., They were very
naive, but somehow I always believed that they could fight their way
out of anything, but if you look at the original brochure of Cape Coral
and you look at what they deliver for that, it was certainly more taht
the people were going to get happy. If I was to get up and say, "what
am I going to do today?' They never thought three weeks down the line.]
What do you remember about the Cape Coral bridge? [I was there when
it was finishing up that bond issue. ] What was the vote about? Remember
that big fight about the vote in the community, there was a big battle.
[I think one of the battles was the they would not raise enough funds,
as I recall to pay the bond and they couldn't guarnatee the bond. Some-
thing like there would not be enough traffic., And then there was a lot
about the right of way as the bridge came more.] Who was involved in
the right of way? [Bill Carmine was. And somebody else. some guys were
holding out.] But that was when I had my fist fight with O'Han. [I
remember that. A public service to the Calossahatchee. But that company was not
designed to make money, let alone run away with the money. There was
no way that company could have made moneyy] It was designed to make
money, it just didn't work out that way, [Maybe the aspiration, the technical
side would never have allowed it, even if they ever had their hands on
money, they would have bought more'land and done more developing. They
were having a good time. They loved it,- Most developers put in a golf
course or a clubhouse as a necessary evil. They really liked it. Jack
wanted to put in a million dollars worth of roses, They had an expert
76 L 6470
who told them that those roses would never live. It wasn't possible
in south Florida,, They didn't live, but he put them in anyway.....