Chapter Thirteen - 1978
Carter Containers - Directors Revolt; Revolting Directors
(Equivalent to 32 pages in hard copy)
January 1978 - We start looking for suitable offices, and I also decide to move house.
John Kay is living in a beautiful, 5-storey house at 19 Chester Street in Belgravia that belongs to a friend who spends all his time in the country. I ask John if he thought I could buy the lease. Following token discussions with old friend, Paul Littlewood, at Boodle Hatfield, I acquire the lease and move in On February 23.
John moves in with Mike Beuttler and Paul Wheeler at 71 Portland Place.
Number 19 is the far right building on the corner. The ground floor window is the fire-placed dining room, behind which was a morning room with stairs down to a garden room on the right, and further down, the kitchens, staff dining room, and, in the front, the butler’s bedroom.
Half-way up the main stairs, there was a study on the left, and further up, at the front with twin windows, the fire-placed drawing room. Toward the garden, was a small second lounge with a built-in bar.
Again up the main stairs was the master bedroom on the front and a large bathroom, overlooking the garden at the back. Up the main stairs again, was the principal guestroom and bath. Again upstairs, were three small servant rooms and a bath.
The garden enclosed a big tree and had full borders. I mirrored the end wall and covered it with an open trellis to fool the eye as to how deep it really was. When John had the house, he kept two lion cubs that would peer over the wall along the street that led to the Pig & Whistle, a quaint pub.
Turns out the pub is perfectly straight except for Sunday when it becomes exclusively gay.
I am told that the house was the model for the set of the popular British TV series, “Upstairs, Downstairs,” in any event, it makes an elegant home.
I interviewed for a butler and a maid. The butler I end up with has a slanting limp – friends call him the “Listing Queen Mary.” He didn’t last long – he quit after a month.
A few days later, the police came to call. “Could I come to the station and look at some things that had been stolen by your ex-man?”
The room was filled with stuff, and, on a shelf was my first copy of Lincoln’s letter to my third-great uncle, General William Tecumseh Sherman, saying “Thank you for my Christmas present, your march to the sea.” As I hadn’t unpacked everything, I hadn’t missed it.
I hire a nice Filipino woman to be my cook/housekeeper.
Mito is arriving from New York soon, and in June, Mother will come visit.
March 4. Mito calls. “I am being held by the police at the airport. They found something in my luggage, help!”
I call John Addey, a luncheon friend, who was extremely well connected. He said he would deal with it.
These days, most of the directors of Carter & Company lunch at Jules Bar on Jermyn Street. Usually too much Port is consumed, and not much gets accomplished in the afternoons. The next day, John Addey comes in to Jules; I look at him quizzically. He just smiles and says, “I’ll get on it this afternoon.”
I lose my temper, “My best friend is in jail, and you’re having lunch! What kind of a shit are you?”
The next day, Mito comes to the house, led by a plain-clothes policeman who questions me about our relationship and my activities in the UK. He tells us not to leave the country – there is an investigation!
Then, helping Mito unpack, I come across an 8x10 photo of a naked, sexy little boy who must have been no more than fourteen. “What is this?” I ask.
“Oh, he’s a friend of Jimmy’s, my Filipino friend in Germany.”
Somehow I doubt it.
A few days later, John Addey invites us for a drink. “No one seems to know anything, but the case has been dropped – ‘the evidence disappeared’.”
Mother has an expression, “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.” We finished our drinks, I thanked John, and we left. Nothing was heard of the instance again, but I was shaken.
To clear the air, I ordered a 308 GTS (w/removeable Targa top) Ferrari for factory delivery! Mito and I fly down to Modena to pick it up. It has right-hand drive for the UK roads. It’s like the photo below except it is gleaming black with a chamois-colored leather interior.
We are given a tour of the factory… which is strangely empty. Only when we exit, do they tell us they are in the middle of a bomb threat!
We go to the “delivery room,” and as I slide into the driver’s seat, a brass grommet on a back pocket of my jeans, indelibly scratches the leather! Having made my mark, I open the door for Mito, and we roar into the town - I need to cash some travelers’ checks for petrol.
Pulling up in front of a small bank, I get out my wallet and passport. There is much discussion on the other side of the counter, and the manager bursts out of his office, bowing and scraping… the more I deny it, the more they whoop – they are sure President Jimmy is a relative!
We snake through the Alps and have a great time playing with this super, little car. When we reach British customs, the officious official is suspicious of my tourist visa and new car. “If you’re just a tourist, why is the steering wheel on the right hand side? You plan to sell it?”
I stammer something and he lets us through. The Rolls-Royce and the Ferrari look good on the curb in front of 19 Chester Street!
John Kay helps me make some improvements to the house. I put in a new master bath, re-do the kitchen, and repaint throughout. John finds a painter who does the best faux work I’ve ever seen. He paints all the woodwork in knotty pine and until you get to the iron radiator on the fifth floor, you’d swear it was real.
As you know, I have bought and sold many houses in London and love doing them up. So, John and I form an unofficial partnership to do up houses. At the same time, I lease him a cute little Porsche 914, send him off to Paris to find material for my drawing room windows, and put £60,000 in a new bank account for our first project – a house on Headfort Place.
A few days later, still smarting from the photo of the boy that is “Jimmy’s friend,” Mito and I go to a party – people I’ve never met before. Entering, they say “Hi, Jimmy!”
Somewhere in these pages, I introduced you to Gil Karnig, the “colonel,” a great friend of Jackson Kelly. Well, that afternoon, driving through Hyde Park, I spot Gil walking near the Hilton. “Get in, what are you up to?”
“Nothing.” was his answer. I give him one of the little servant rooms at the top of the house… next to Paul Lazenby’s.
“We’ve got to find an office soon, Gil. Get on it, will you?”
In two days, He finds a whole floor on the third floor of 35 Piccadilly, right in the center of the West End. It is perfect and we move in. It is the building with the arches, below.
Everyone has an office and in the center is a conference room furnished with my mother’s dining room table and chairs with which she had been brought up in Albany.
I hire an American, Bill Hurlock, to be Director of Marketing; he twists my arm to also hire his wife. He hires a firm to design a logo, take publicity photographs, and produce a terrific brochure…
We registered a French company, and also had a brochure in French…
The new material spurs the sales efforts and business is good.
In June, Mother arrives for two weeks. The first Sunday, we are standing at the open windows of the drawing room, hand-in-hand, dozens of male couples come down Chester Street and turn the corner under our feet, enroute to the, Sunday-gay, Pig & Whistle.
I say, “There’s a famous watering-hole just down the street.”
Mother says, “I don’t think water has anything to do with it!”
Mom returns to Florida on the 15th and, the next day, Bob Tebbutt and his friend, Walter Otto, a Oldsmobile dealer from Albany, arrive for a week. We discuss plans for Carter & Company in the US – Bob is going to rent an office in Albany to be a planning base. The rest of their visit, I give them hair-raising tours of Belgravia in the Ferrari.
I make Bill Hurlock Managing Director and take off for New York and the House in the Woods on June 29th.
Flexing his new authority, Hurlock appropriately delves into details and is concerned about the lack of financial controls and the ineffectiveness of the Vlieland-Boddys. We still don’t seem to have a handle on the accounts. Bill wants to hire a professional bookkeeper to go over everything for the past twelve months and bring all the books up to date.
Two weeks later, Bill calls me in the Woods and requests that I return to go over the details with him. I do so, via Montreal, the next day, and conduct an all-day conference in Chester Street to explain the position of the company to him. The upshot was that he had panicked unnecessarily and wasn’t demonstrating the temperament necessary to be Managing Director.
I consider firing him but he pleads so eloquently, that I allow him to stay on.
I return to New York, meet Mito at the Algonquin, resolve our problems, and we drive to the Woods the next day, July 21st.
I invite Henri Tschudi and George and Elizabeth to stay at HOWO for much of August.
Henri arrives on the third of August and Bob and Marta Tebbutt with Bob’s friend, Dennis, Walter Otto, Bob’s parents, and Mito and I spend a week of picnics, and parties, and woods walks, and Parcheesi tournaments! George and Elizabeth arrive on the fourteenth.
The sixteenth is my birthday, again – this year we call it “The 38 Special.”
The Leonard’s made necklaces of pink wool, with a 38 caliber cartridge attached, for each guest and also gave me a coat of arms – a black rubber raincoat with four extra arms tailored on!
Here are the photographs of the visit and birthday…
You can just make out Blazes through the trees.
Mito, Elizabeth Lane’s face, me, the American Flag, the Olympic Flag,
the Nautical Flag for the letter “C”, and my father’s wooden wagon full of flowers.
The House in the Woods with, left to right, Mito, Bob Tebbutt,
and Ritchie, our caretaker this summer. We’re building a new deck and an attached garage.
The Birthday Boy putting a 38 Special necklace on Cousin Danny’s wife, Betty.
Cousin Big Dan, Danny’s father, is seen to the far right.
An outing in the wilderness with Ray LaMay, from the Tebbutt family business,
Bob, Mito and Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Kissing Cousin Betty Leonard in the dining room of the
House in the Woods.
Parker Packard, part owner of the Adirondack Store, Bob Tebbutt, and Henri Tschudi
(all wearing their 38 Special cartridges).
Cousin Sally Leonard (Danny’s sister) and Elizabeth.
Henri, Bob, me, Elizabeth, Mito, and Ray.
My new ‘James Bond,’ 19-foot, I/O, silver-glitter, Glastron boat, named ‘Diamond Lil.’
I’m getting ready to ski.
Two skis – that’s cheating!
Our local airstrip – there are no scheduled services.
August 25 - Our pilot, Vietnam Veteran Hank Snow, preparing to take our visitors to Montreal’s International Airport for their flight back to London. L-R: Me, Bob Tebbutt, Elizabeth Lane, Hank, and Henri Tschudi. Too bad George Lane isn’t in any of these pictures - he took them all.
The beautiful Adirondack Mountains.
The next week, out of the blue, David Harper and Clive-Vlieland-Boddy arrived at HOWO. Clive presented a set of management accounts that showed a loss of £117,000 as of July 31, saying, “Here are the books, this is the problem, however, we believe that we can go on, go forward, and salvage the company, but we will not do the job with Hurlock there. Therefore, you either fire Hurlock or we will leave you and that will virtually be the end of your company.”
I knew Hurlock was going to step on toes and I suspected that Harper and the Vlieland-Boddys were self-serving crooks, but I need to play these crooks’ game to gain time and leverage.
“I agree; what else.”
They were shocked at my response - expecting a fight, especially as Hurlock was a fellow American.
“We want to put Ian Landless, currently our top salesman, on the Board, and each of us be sold a percentage of the company.”
I agree; George already had a piece and ever since the IOS days, I knew how ownership could motivate.
David and Clive got drunk that night and behaved badly at the dining room table – boors will be boors.
The next morning, Clive came downstairs with a revised balance sheet showing a £23,000 profit instead of the £117,000 loss. “I been doing a little creative massaging.” He said.
‘Blackmail,” I thought.
I said, “Well, guys, you have what you want, now get back and get cracking, and prove to me that I have done the right thing.”
All my life, except for trips to the villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and to attend Camp Dudley, visit Ausable Chasm and Fort Ticonderoga, I had never had any interest in being away from HOWO and our waterways.
For more than one hundred years, the region of Saranac Lake has been famous for its fresh air’s curative properties as a Tuberculosis Cure Center. Dr. Trudeau (Gary’s grandfather), sometimes helped by my grandfather, was instrumental in putting Saranac Lake on the map. Will Rogers build a hospital here, Robert Louis Stevenson had a “cure cottage” here, and many well-known families, such as the Rockefellers, the Baches, and the Sulzbergers built “camps” here.
Of course, the beautiful lakes are the main attractions. Lake Placid sits on Mirror Lake, the village of Saranac Lake sits on Lake Flower, and the three Saranac Lakes – Lower, Middle, and Upper – wash the shores of the significant private homes. Upper Saranac is the most prestigious. Hourglass shaped, its northern half hosts the families of “mainline” Philadelphia; its southern, New York City banking families – many Jewish. Many have never crossed the “red line” of the narrows – where William Avery Rockefeller’s Camp Wonundra sits sentinel.
At the north end, a hotel, Saranac Inn, and its cottages, was summer home to many would-be “sophisticated summer people.”
The Saranac Inn was a large, luxurious hotel located on a peninsula at the northern end of the Upper Saranac Lake in the town of Santa Clara in the Adirondacks in New York State, United States. It was frequented by US Presidents Grover Cleveland and Chester A. Arthur and New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes. It closed in 1962, and burned to the ground in 1978.
Originally built as the Prospect House in 1864, it started as a small hotel that accommodated 15 guests. It was gradually enlarged to handle up to 100. In 1886 it was purchased by a group of investors who renamed it Saranac Inn, and began a program of renovation and construction that brought the capacity to 250 by 1909. The opening of the Mohawk and Malone Railway in 1892, dramatically reducing travel time from major east coast cities to the Adirondacks, had a major impact on the hotel.
In 1912 the hotel was purchased by Harrington Mills, the owner of the Harrington Hotel in Washington, DC, who completely rebuilt the structure, adding two stories, elevators, and a private bath in each room. It underwent further enlargement in the 1920s, and noted Saranac Lake architect William G. Distin was responsible for much of the design work. At its height, between the enlarged main hotel and the many lakeside cottages and platform tents favored by some guests, it could accommodate a thousand guests.
The Tebbutts rented one of the cottages for many years, and Bob grew up on the lake.
September 15 – Bob suggests Mito and I and him trail his boat to have a ride on Upper Saranac Lake. We traverse the shore of the northern end… that’s the Packard’s, that’s the Biddle’s, that’s the Ritchie’s – the names of Philadelphia’s socially-registered rolled off his tongue. Then the lake narrowed down, a large granite point stuck out from below a densely wooded peninsula. Shouting above the roar of the motor, Bob said, “Someday when you are very old and very rich, you should buy that place, it is one of the Adirondack Great Camps, and was built by William Avery Rockefeller.”
I shrugged… couldn’t see anything for the trees but a three-slip boathouse.
We went on through the ‘Narrows’… “That’s the Lehman’s, you know, Lehman Brothers; and that used to be the Bache’s, Jules Bache & Co.”
The lake was beautiful but it wasn’t Clear Pond… it wasn’t home.
The next morning, out of breath, Bob calls, “You won’t believe it. It’s for sale!”
“What’s for sale?”
“The Rockefeller place, it’s for sale! Do you want to go see it?”
“That might be fun. Yes, let’s go.”
We drive over, Bob knows the way. Down a mile-long rough, dirt road, we see an unkempt tennis court on the right; soon a tired building on the left. Now we are on a partially paved driveway. There’s a log cabin on the right, straight ahead, a long, log house, and a two-car garage on the right. Everything looks tired.
The front door opens as we knock. There’s no one about. We walk into a huge, high-ceilinged room with a fireplace at each end… “I’ll take it.” I say.
From around the fireplace on the right steps a 40-ish guy. “I’m Steve Briggs, I own this camp, Camp Cork, with two friends. I speak for them. Do you really want it?”
“Yes,” I say, “how much?”
“Well, there are eight buildings, mostly furnished, and some boats. When we bought it, Rockefeller included the food in the fridges and freezers, I’ guess I’ll do the same. The price is $250,000.”
“That’s fine.” I say.
“Well, not so fast. The neighbors need to give their OK. Can you come by tomorrow around 3PM?”
The next day at 3, I had been down looking at the boathouse and other buildings, and was looking forward to meeting the neighbors. In the door came a portly man of about 60 and a lady.
“How do you do, I’m Joe Blagden and this is my wife Clarissa.”
I say, “You look very much like my art master at Hotchkiss, Tom Blagden, and there is a family resemblance to my classmate, Steve Blagden.”
With a huge grim, Joe says he’s Tom’s brother and Steve’s uncle… “When are you going to move in?”
“Well, it’s going to take some time to do the paperwork; probably not until Spring.”
(Bob is already rubbing his hands in anticipation of a commission.)
At the end of September, Mito goes off to New York, and I return to London.
George and I interview Mr. Stuart Kirby, an eager young man who wants to join the company very badly. He says he has many friends who are chartered accountants and he is sure he can sell them on selling our program to their clients. I take him under my wing and train him. After a couple of weeks, I think he is ready and off he goes. His first sale is to through one of the “Big Seven” accounting firms – one million pounds! His contact there tells him to come by every Tuesday and pick up a new cheque. For the rest of the year, Stewart is responsible for more than one million pounds per week!
October 15th a very positive article is published in The Sunday Times…
A new club opens in London – The Embassy. The crowd is multi-gendered, they let me park the Roller right across the street, and Gil and I are there almost every night…
Mid-December, Gil takes me along to the home of Robert Carrier, a wildly gregarious, American, cookbook author and TV personality. We get on like a house on fire.
One of Bob’s first questions to Gil was, “Does he know Miss Audré?”
I shook my head. Gill said, “He will tomorrow!”
Tomorrow, Gil and I are dining at Lee Ho Fook in Chinatown, and he said, “Audré arrived this afternoon and is at the London Athenaeum. Let’s send Green (my part-time driver) to pick her up.”
I go outside and say to Green, there’s a very elegant lady waiting in the lobby of the Athenaeum. Her name is Miss Audré. She doesn’t know me, but is a great friend of Mr. Karnig and Mr. Carrier. Please go into the lobby and look for her. She will be dressed in black & white. Please bring her back here to the restaurant.
Forty-five minutes later, a vivacious gal, looking and acting like Judy Garland, decked out in a black & white dress and trailing a black & white, polka-dotted, scarf swoops into Lee Ho Fook… of course, it’s Miss Audré!
“How did you know I’d be in black & white?” I winkled, shrugged, and smiled. We became friends for the rest of her life.
New Year’s Eve, Alan Sievewright, an opera buff friend, invites me for the festivities at his home. At midnight, I was kissed by Placido Domingo! ‘Nuff said.
Dr. Clive-Vlieland-Boddy, FCA, in a paper on Edward G.L. Carter & Company, wrote - “By the end of 1978, it [Carter Containers] had over £50m of equipment under management and made profits for the year to 30th June 1978 of just under £1m before dividends. It had invested £3m in its own equipment to minimise taxation and had bought two large houses in central London.”
END OF CHAPTER THIRTEEN
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The Cast – Chapters Ten through Fourteen:
Mito Catral, Margaret L. Carter, Johnny Galliher,
Jacques Sarli, François Catroux, Edward Zajac,
Al Pacino, John Brewer, Jackie Kennedy, Pierre Suter,
Martha & Sam Welker, Baroness Carrie de Vendeuvre,
Prince Rupert Loewenstein, Cappy Badrutt,
Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Gilles Dufour,
Eli Wallitt, Bernie Cornfeld, Charlie Freeman,
Roy and Buthena Kirkdorffer,
Harold Levi, Mr. & Mrs. Truman Anderson, Mr. H.A. Jacques, Daniel Droze,
Mana Weiser, Mr. Toblerone, Dr. David Trueblood,
Sir John Templeton,
Stewart Granger, Peter Herzog, David Fitts, Jerry Ratz,
Mr. Liers, Pat Minihan, Albert Moth, Nat Greenburg, Eric Banks, John French, Frank Charlton,
Barry Fletcher, Jaime Granger, Baron Tieson, David Hamilton,
Prince Hohenlohe, Countess Obolensky,
Ron Ferri & Jean Pierre, John Stock, Duchess of Sutherland, Guy Munthe, Axel Munthe, Colin Tennant,
Brian & Peggy Taylor, George & Elizabeth Lane,
Klaus von Bülow,
Dixon Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Creighton, Ken Carr, David Jones,
Warren Serenbetz, The Earl of Lanesborough,
Sir Harmar Nicholls,
John McCarthy, Norman Gurov, Gerald Lubner, Bill Bennette, David Hicks, Selwyn Elkin, John Kay, David Warner,
Stephen Kaufmann, David Sulzberger, Simon Trimble,
Allen Warren, Lionel Bart, Sir Guy Millard, Ben Coleman,
Tony Hail, Chuck Posey, Walt & Florence Patnode,
Henry McIlhenny, Add and Wit, Vincent Friia, Peter Marshall, Tony Cloughley, Alessandro Albrizzi, Tim Krusi, Alan Jones, Logan, Nora, Michael Beuttler,
Paul Wheeler, Richard Taylor, Jeremy Norman, Derek Frost,
Bob Perkins, Eduardo Llanyo, William Thuiller, Nicholas Kimber, Max Maguire,
John Schlesinger, Nicky Lane, Bobby Fryer, Mark McCormick, April Ashley, Graham White, Dicky Fife, Christopher McDonell, Andre Moussoulos,
Anthony Redmile, Harold Gould, Ralph Clark, Naim Akill, Anthony Brown,
Alan Lumsden, Sompong Toomvhun,
Alix & Tom Dame and their daughters, Leslie and Laura,
Debbie Leonard, Charlie Keough, Bob Tebbutt, Moe Sherman,
May & Dan Leonard, Danny & Betty Leonard,
Jack & Mary Tennant,
Dody & Bill Oliver, George & Isabel Brett, Danforth Leonard,
Jean & Andy Jones, David Harper, Lonnie Foster, David Griggs,
Michael Fish & Trevor, Sheridan Dufferin, Mr. Robert George,
Mr. Clive Vlieland-Boddy, Martin Vlieland-Boddy, Ian Landless,
Lord Litchfield, George Lazenby, Paul Lazenby,
Major Anthony Everette,
Rupert Everette, Paul Littlewood, John Addey, Gil Karnig, Jackson Kelly,
Bill Hurlock, Walter Otto, Henri Tschudi, Ray LaMay,
Parker Packard, Hank Snow, Dr. Trudeau, Gary Trudeau, William Avery Rockefeller, Steve Briggs,
Joe & Clarissa Blagden, Tom Blagden, Steve Blagden,
Robert Carrier, Miss Audré, Alan Sievewright, Placido Domingo,
Michael Cowie, David Clayton, Chuck & Susie Bade,
Yves Saint-Laurent, Marc Bohan,
Moments from Chapter Thirteen
When John had the house, he kept two lion cubs that would peer over the wall along the street that led to the Pig & Whistle, a quaint pub.
On a shelf was my first copy of Lincoln’s letter to my third-great uncle, General William Tecumseh Sherman, saying
“Thank you for my Christmas present, your march to the sea.”
“I am being held by the police at the airport, help!”
We are given a tour of the Ferrari factory which is…
Only when we exit, do they tell us they are in the middle of a bomb threat!
The first Sunday, we are standing at the open windows of the drawing room; hand-in-hand, dozens of male couples come down Chester Street and turn the corner under our feet, enroute to the, Sunday-gay, Pig & Whistle.
By way of explanation, I say,
“There’s a famous watering-hole just down the street.”
Mother says, “I don’t think water has anything to do with it!”
“Either fire Hurlock or we will leave you, and that will virtually
be the end of your company.”
Stewart’s selling more than one million pounds per week!
“The Rockefeller place, it’s for sale! Do you want to go see it?”
At midnight, I was kissed by Placido Domingo!
19 Chester Street, S.W. 1