Posted by: guinness222 | March 1, 2019

So where do I go from here? I may be old,….but I ain’t ready to go for the big “Dirt Nap”, just YET!!ff

Life

I have an OLD picture of myself at about three, possibly four years old, sitting on the third floor of my Grandmothers back porch in a Brick 3 story tenement in South Boston, 902 Broadway, to be precise. Funny how some things you never forget, even at 73 years old.

I’m sitting against the horizontal 2×4 used for the pickets, holding an old metal kids beach bucket, of the variety you take to the beach to build sand castles. Behind me you can see the backs of all the tenements behind us, and their old rope “clothesline’s”, filled with the wash of the day. The clothes will be put on that line with “clothes pins”and “blow-dry” in the breezes of the day in the warming sunshine, for a large part of the day. And then be replaced by more wet laundry from the washer, if you were lucky enough to have one, or “hand-wrung” from the big sink (“set-tub”) in the kitchen of our “triple decker”. There were no “laundry rooms”, nor “dryers around in the “Lace Curtain Irish” section” of “Southie” in those days.

It was called “lace curtain Irish” because it was primarily 90+% blue collar, working Irish immigrants section, just trying to become part of “The American Dream”. The Irish women knew how to “Tat”, which was the “art” of made lace. “Store bought” curtains were out of the realm of reality because they were too big a luxury, and too expensive, therefore the lace became the “material of choice” which was elegantly transformed into curtains. Since it was a “practical hobby” of generations and it was made to be a proud part of the entire new American/Irish culture. (Wonder how many women today can “Tat” lace, versus the “machines” that just crank it out like the old Shoe factories of New England used to make shoes, and fabric.

Oh, there were no “TV’s” or “Cable service” computers, internet, or “facebook” then either. So there was lots of time to reflect, just think, and read, if you knew how, even in those days at 3 or 4 years old living in the City, those were your options! We HAD to learn early, there was no ADD, no Ritlene, or “special ed” classes.

Today is Monday, here on “The Emerald Coast”, or the “Florida Panhandle”, or just plain “Destin area” , you’re choice, as I write this on my iPad, for my blog, at “www.guinness222.com” about 5am. The sun won’t be up for another hour, as I sit in the dining room of our 2000 square foot townhome, three bedrooms, a “loft area” of about 8’x16 foot, 2 car garage, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room and screened in back deck, overlooking a lagoon, about 30 feet wide that is a football field long and overflows into a big man made lake used for waterskiing and waterskiing training. Sound idyllic? Sure, the American dream you think, not a “cookie cutter” tract home, but a perfect, quiet place for my wife and I to retire to with our dear third cat , “Miss Kitty”,…….and wait to die!

But it is Florida, and there is just too much going on and too many species of wildlife to let a cat “go out” to play. We have regular Black Bear siteings in our little development, not to mention all the “feral” cats, coyotes, and other things. (The Bears know exactly when trash day is, how to open trash cans better than a lot of owners, and obviously scrounge up a morsel or two!)

We bought this place in 2000, after scrimping up a and borrowing $30,000 from my brother, which we haven’t yet been able to afford to payback, both my wife and I were working full time jobs, and additional part-time ones as well, and trying to meet the goal of just retiring here, when the time came.

The time has already come,….and going fast, and we haven’t been able to “achieve the goal” yet.

We have always been a determined couple, we’ve gone from renting a one-bedroom apartment on a four lane “Main Street” in Salem, Massachusetts after we got married, eventually moving to a small two bedroom apartment in Plymouth, Massachusetts (home of the Pilgrims of course, and a “rock” by the same name as the town.) Then we took the first “big Step” and bought a 150 year old Sea Captain’s house in Salem, Massachusetts. And we took the second floor apartment and had “renters” on the first floor. We worked our “tails” off for about five or so years, I had a full-time job, and went to Northshore Community College and after getting an Associates degree, moved on to Salem State College to major in History. I had always had part-time jobs as well. Working in the A&P Supermarket, or whatever I could find. Soon we went for “the Gold Ring” of a young couple with two children, our first single family home in neighboring Beverly, Massachusetts. My wife was working as well at at least one and in some cases two part time jobs, as we raised two beautiful kids, Shawn, now 50 years old, and Christine, now 49 years old. We swapped babysitting and work schedules as much as we could.

We found other couples our age, with kids the same ages as ours and hung out together. Next step was to try and secure “our futures” , One of our good friends was a UPS driver, (and he had to work damn hard for several years to even get the job!). Another friend in our new Beverly neighborhood was a “consultant” whose career just skyrocketing, his wife was a teacher of deaf children at a local school, or clinic. They eventually moved out of the neighborhood, on to international consulting, traveling all over the world. One summer his wife, mine and all the kids, (they had two as well) , went to Rochester, New York too visit her relatives while John, the consultant, and I stayed home for a week.

John had a major project to finish, getting published in a “Professional” technical publication, to move ahead in his career. His expertise was in Inventory management systems, and I worked for a large national retail chain who had just built a whole new building (six acres under the roof) and the longest “slick-rail” system of “racking” clothes at the time. (Kind of like the system at dry cleaners where they look at the ticket, push the button and the dry cleaning just goes round and round until your clean blazer, slacks, or dress comes around, but this one was in the neighborhood of ” 5 Miles” long! (We spent the evenings after work for the week sitting on my back deck drinking “Gennese Cream Ale” talking after work. So while the wives and kids were gone now we were writing a, now “classic” article on “how to select, hire, and direct a Consultant to design and manage a complete Inventory system”. I let him take all the credit for it,, and publish it under his name, because he was a friend who needed someone to “help out” with brainstorming, terms, and problem solving” as well as reviewing and help “authoring” the entire article. It worked GREAT, his career began taking off, and I was eventually the guy asked to all the Boston Red Sox games I could handle, including against the Yankees as his “other ticket” holder, when his success began to bear fruit!!

Anyhow I was itching to get into my own business, to make my mark, and try and expand life for my wife and family. We bought the house, a 3 bedroom, on a Cul de Sac in Beverly Farms in a kid friendly neighborhood, ( which we had put on a big addition, a huge deck, and an above ground pool, a family room, and a bunch of other “stuff”.) We bought the house originally for $32,000 in 1972, it was now 1982. I got a line, through one of my vendors who had a distribution company which sold First Aid supply’s and Safety equipment, he had learned that one of the other Distributors, who had the rights for Maine and New Hampshire, was in deep financial trouble and I asked him to see if he would entertain me buying his company out! A week later he called me at work and said that he would and would like to “chat”. We made connections via phone, after I sent the Franchiser my resume, and they made it clear they did NOT want to just “shut him down” as it would embarrass the company which was growing, ( like the proverbial weeds), but none of the “big boys” were interested in buying his distributor ship out, so by happen stance, I got the nod to try.

The Distributor we are talking about had three trucks, thought he was doing well enough and bought himself a brand new Lincoln Continental, and his lead Salesman a brand new Mustang convertible!! He didn’t have enough financial knowledge to know he was a month or two away from Bankruptcy! Not to lengthen this, but I negotiated and bought the entire company, inventory, receivables, fixed Assets, etc for $3,000 cash, (all I had, but I could bluff it for sure!) Closed his “office and warehouse” which cost him about $600 a month, rented a 3 three bedroom house with room to put the entire business in the basement, take in the every other week inventory deliveries, and allowed the sales/service staff to keep their vehicles at their home, which saved me money, and them time to come to the office to get their vehicle every day!

I went home and told the wife and kids we were moving to Southern Maine! Nobody was jumping up and down, but we still had to sell our house so I would have to commute to Maine, about 80 miles round trip, every day until we could sell the house, and make the move. Now I only had 30 days to pull it all together, and make it happen. My downside was easy, total embarrassment, and out $3,000! But I pulled it off!

We moved to Maine a month later after the first guy who wanted to look at the house, came in, didn’t even make a full tour of the house, never smiled, said a word, …nothing!!! Two hours later the Real Estate agent called me and said “He’ll take it.” I had left with him being a “”single guy, no family, engineering type, no way is he gonna buy our house!, ….Make me an offer!

So I asked the Real Estate Agent “what did he offer?” She replied “Twice your asking price!” I of course said “YES, YES, bring me a contract, any clauses in the offer” usually there is always the subject to bank approval, home inspection, etc. She said yes, and I remember thinking to myself “OK, here comes the hook!” “He will pay cash and wants to close on it by next Monday!” That’s it, I thought it was kind of strange right?

A week later we broom cleaned the house, the movers came, and we were gone.

It went very well, as the business prospered, I was able to grow it from 85th in the country to #6 in less than five years!! But that’s not the real point.

We wound up deciding to build a new house and I negotiate a deal with an old retired farmer for 2 acres of his pasture, off a dirt road for $7,000, paid at 7% simple interest, over 24 months!! After we finished paying it off on time, etc, I told my wife time to look to build, YOUR house, go looking for a design and builders. Okay?

It all worked out well, (again if I can figure out how to paste a picture in I will)

The American Dream come true, RIGHT? Sort of,…but life goes on, 7 years after we built the house I decided to move on and get another venture going. We had gone from $3,000 in sales a month in 1981 when I bought it, to just about $2,000,000 a year in 1990!

I give full credit for it all to God and my wife, maybe a little help from me as well.

I put the business up for sale in TWO parts, Maine Rights in one segment, New Hampshire Rights, in the second segment. My Attorney was high on it, giving me an “over the moon” that it would give us a future blanket to cover us. We had the business appraised, and it came back at a little under a million dollars per segment. So I put the New Hampshire segment on first asking, $1.1M, I made my Sales Manager who had been loyal and did a good job the offer to buy the New Hampshire segment first. He thought about it, for a day or two, came back and said “Ok, I’ll take it, let me call the bank.”

My attorney made out the Purchase and Sales agreement, and my partner handed me a check for the down payment and signed off on the deal and he then owned New Hampshire Distribution Rights, approved by the Corporate automatically because he had worked for me for almost 5 years as the Sales Manager and produced results!

The balance I allowed him to handle in monthly payments with a $100,000 final payment due in 5 years. Damn generous of me!

A Year later, I decided to put the Maine Distribution Rights, which I still controlled and ran, on the sales block. It took about a month of hemming and hawing and found a buyer in three months who agreed to a more complicated deal consisting of multiple notes over a five year period attached to his sales and each note paid over a 10 year period. This assured my wife and I with a guaranteed source of income over the next 15 years!! That increased each year! This guy was a graduate of The Wharton School of Business, with a major in Financing. How bad could that be!!

Answer: REALLY BAD FOR US!! About two years later, after being very reliable, and managing his business pretty well, (his daughter who had worked for me for about a year and was totally up to date on the Computer, paperwork “ebb and flow” of inventory, and payroll, and all the necessary office systems, his wife was also a full charge bookkeeper so I was pretty comfortable with what would ever happen,….

Oooops! No allowance for him having a fatal Stroke at the end of the second year. His wife just stopped paying us anything. I waited about six months before I even broached the subject at which time she told me that “She thought they overpaid originally, and was not going to pay another penny for it”. I gently reminded her that there was a final payment of $100, 000 and I would be glad to settle for that and forego the remaining monthly payments and was told “I said we aren’t paying you another penny!” (Kind of like negotiating with Nancy Pelosi!!) It was secured by a lien on the 40 acres they owned so it became a “pay me now or pay me later” deal,…..and I didn’t push her at all. About 5 years later her daughter called to tell me her mom moved to Florida and retired, and she and her husband had been given the land ,…but there was a lien in place, from me! I explained it all to her and she told me that I would have to take it up with her mother. I told her it had been over 12 years and I wanted to be paid.I told her to have her attorney call me. He did and told me they didn’t understand why the lien was there, I invited him to call my attorney, or make me an offer that I could take to sign off on the note! He called back in an hour and offered me half the $100, 000 to settle it out. I agreed he confirmed in writing, and I received my check for $50,000 in a week, THEN signed off on the lien, after the check was placed in my bank and collected.

I moved on, after I sold the business and developed a new concept. I’ll forgo the details, but we opened a Country Western “Dance Hall” on the first floor of a new multiple using a average bill of $5.00 per customer as the break even point. It was jammed for the first year, then the numbers showed the customers were spending an average of $1.50 per person and dancing their brains off on 1 cup of Coca-cola with a fruit salad in it, at my cost. My response,…a three dollar per head cover charge, they begrudgingly paid it and then changed from Coca-Cola to WATER!!!!. I warned then for months, and they counted the number of folks there and told me how “successful” it was and thought I was kidding!!

The buyer who bought the Maine portion the Maine of my previous company showed up one Friday night when it was really busy, and stuck a paper in my face and handed me a set of van keys, and said he was closing down and couldn’t pay me another payment or anything else, and all he had left was a five year old van with over 100,000 miles on it that he had title too!! There went our retirement cushion for the next fifteen years!! I closed up the Country Music club, and opened and Irish Pub in the smallest section of the space I rented, (over $15,000 Sq, Ft. on total space and less than 2,000 feet for the pub,…it was “quaint” aged and folks loved it, but even drinking them selves into oblivion, every night they couldn’t touch the overall cost of the rent I had to pay to keep the bill covered for the entire space, which was what we originally contracted for!!

That’s how we lost a total of almost $1.3 million, and were forced to declare both business and personal Bankruptcy!, We lost everything, our beautiful house, the ability to pay any more tuition for our last son for his senior year of high school, and then it was still not enough and they foreclosed on the mortgage and PRESTO!, we were homeless and stuck. God Bless one of my dart players who had rental properties and rented us a two bedroom townhouse for about $800 a month!

I played chauffeur to a guy who owned a cleaning company, but, who lost his license for a DUI, and it was a very good Cleaning company who we could not afford to pay for what we owed him for doing all cleaning in our “Pub”, and “Dance Club” for at least a year. He offered me a job chauffeuring him around when his license was taken for a year by the State, and another position as a “Cleaner” for him, which I took readily for the next six or eight months, working from 4 pm in the afternoon, through the entire night and until at least nine or 10 am the next morning driving him around as well as handling THREE commercial accounts and a six story building and it’s 12 tenants offices as well, over 20, 000 square feet of offices, 130 toilets and urinals, sinks and mirrors, and common area, all the door glass and lobbies, stairs and common areas! That was five days a week plus two weekend accounts, a factory and a four story retail store of Apple computers and accessories!! (I told you I was a worker, and believed in work is as a way to success)

So I know hard work, and “Paid my Dues”, plus the humiliations of a mortgage foreclosure, disruption of my entire family and ultimately eviction and foreclosure by the Sheriff!

We moved to Florida in 1996 and rented a small townhome and five years later, had enough to buy a brand new townhome that was bigger by the same developer in a new project he had going,…..and here we are now!

I worked selling computers, driving over 100 miles a day to and fro, living on a fold up camping cot at my Son’s house with him and his wife for a couple of months and then FINALLY after six months I was able to fly back up north, meet my wife , (who had moved in with a friend of ours whose husband had passed away a year prior. We jumped in her car, with the remainder of her clothes and headed for Florida.

Enough “Good ole adventures”, now today!!

I keep fighting the good battle with my wife, the kids are grown and all good for the most part, reputable citizens, except our youngest, who passed away in 2017 from Bacterial Meningitis , in Washington state leaving a wife and a 9 year old Grand-daughter and a 1 year old Grandson!!

All in all we are definitely a “hard working second generation of Irish immigrant family” doin’ the best we can in this great country. All immigrants don’t make it, but it takes blood, sweat and tears,……and by that I mean a lot of tears, sleepless nights, and fearlessly gambling on your ability to “make it happen”! When your whole family is at stake,…….you just DO IT!

-30-

March 1, 2019

Tom Corcoran


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