Character Number Twenty

Billy GrahamAnd then there was Billy Graham.

William Franklin “Billy” Graham was born in 1918 in a small dairy farm and when he was young, was very active, always running instead of walking. He liked reading and when he was seven, read all the Tarzan books and taught himself the yodeling Tarzan yell.  He then climbed trees and scared animals and people with it.  He was not a good student and went to several different schools and colleges.  His parents were of Scottish decent and were Presbyterians.  He went to religious oriented schools and colleges and in his early youth went to what is now Florida College in Hillsborough, FL.  At one of his schools a teacher told him to make sure he did not get lost in some small town as their minister because with his voice he could spread the Word of God more effectively and broadly. Continue reading

Character Number Nineteen

liza minnelliAnd then there was Liza Minnelli.

In 1969, I was working with American Cryogenics in Atlanta and we were planning to put together a proposal for Youngstown Sheet and Tube steel company to install a 600 ton per day oxygen plant near their Chicago mill. I had been working with their Purchasing Manager and the Project Manager who would be involved in the study.  I had already got a favorable rapport with both of them and I had, at one time, mentioned that our Chairman lived in Augusta, GA.  With them both being golfers, they immediately asked if he could get them tickets to the Masters Tournament. Continue reading

Character Number Seventeen

And then there was Don Bisplinhoff.

We moved to Jacksonville, FL in 1973 when I worked for a brief time with Ivy Steel and Wire Company. This was one of many wire product manufacturing companies operating in Florida due to the lack of steel mills in the South and the availability of the Port of Jacksonville that allowed a ready access for European steel mills to import their hot rolled steel rod into the US at attractive prices.  There had been a building boom and wire plant steel inventories were high.  Japanese steel mills were bringing steel into the States at below the cost of US production and a crisis was occurring in the steel and steel products industry, causing production cut-backs.  This caused a slump in the use of steel and wire products, particularly in the building industry.  When a wire producer placed an order for European hot rolled steel, it typically took four months before the steel arrived at the port, causing the company to have to predict their future steel usage.  Faced with a high yard inventory, a reduction in sales and four months more of steel headed for the port and needing to be paid for on arrival, wire producers had a financial crisis. Continue reading

Character Number Sixteen

And then there was Norman Gresty.

I didn’t know much about Norman Gresty’s early life because I first met him in 1975 in Jacksonville, FL   Norman was President of the British American Club and we were on a double decker, ex-English bus taking members on a mystery tour.  We had been invited as new members and we immediately knew we fitted in.  The bus was filled with ex-pats with accents from Scotland to Lands End.  There was a lot of singing on the trip even before the first refreshment stop.  No-one who was on that trip, ever remembered where we went, but we all remember the last stop. Continue reading

Character Number Fifteen

And then there was Peter Allis.

It was in 1945 when I drove Dr. Hunt to Bournemouth to get a golf lesson from the well-known golfer and teacher, Percy Allis at Ferndown Golf Club. Percy Allis played in five Ryder Cups and had won numerous tournaments in England and on the European Continent.  This was in the twenties and thirties, a time before organized leagues such as the PGA and European Tour otherwise Allis would have been a bigger champion.  Dr. Hunt had his lesson and was very pleased with it and he asked Percy to give me a few pointers.  I remember him trying to get me to hit down on the ball to make it rise and he had me stand close to a high fence and chip balls over it.  Continue reading

Character Number Twelve

And then there was Miss Ambrose or was it Miss Hales.

Whatever I may have accomplished in life, a lot of it was due to me getting my doctorate in Chemical Engineering. That was made possible by me getting scholarships but it was really due to the very first scholarship.  I was ten years old in 1937 and was, like all children from the twin villages of Ailsworth and Castor, attending the Castor School.  Continue reading

Character Number Eleven

And then there was John Thorburn.

I lived five miles west of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire in a village called Ailsworth and Milton Ferry is about halfway between Ailsworth and Peterborough.  Milton is where a golf course was built on the estate of Earl Fitzwilliam in the late thirties.  In 1941, when I was 14 years old, I and my next-door friend Alan Francia cycled up to the course to see if we might find golf balls.  We left our bikes in the parking lot and cautiously crept along what we later found out was the first fairway.  We had not gone far when we were accosted by an aged, sun-tanned man with a strange accent.  He turned out to be John Thorburn the acting pro.  Continue reading

Character Number Eight

imgresAnd then there was Bob Vesco

In 1963, when I was President of the Two-by Two Club of the United Church of Rowayton, CT the club secretary was Pat Vesco and, because she didn’t have a baby sitter for her four children, the committee met at Pat’s house. That is when I first met Bob Vesco.  He seemed a pleasant sort of chap, if seemingly thinking of other matters.  I next met bob when I found myself sitting next to him as we rode the New Haven Line to Grand Central Station.  This time, he was quite chatty, cross examining me about my job.  He said he was a salesman for extruded aluminum and I ater found that he worked for Olin Matheson in New York   He told me he was only making $12,500 a year and he could not live on that.  At the time, I was making $13,500 and that was the last time I made more than Vesco.

Continue reading