Bits 'Bout Bill
Promised that I would get around to telling a little bit about myself, and after three years, am going to kinda start this thing. Here we go.
My folks both went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Dad graduated in 1929 and mom in 1930. Not a great time to enter the business or any other world. The Depression was underway hell bent on election, and everything was going down the drain. Finally I guess they figured it might get a tad better, and my folks, Bill and Meda, got married in 1934.
Dad got a job
with Montgomery Ward in Chicago, and by 1936 I guess they figured it was worth
a shot to have a family. I got hatched in April 1937. We lived in Evanston till about
1940, and then moved up the Lake to Glenview. Started school there, and we were
there in our first house through most of the War years up until the summer of
1944. Think this photo was when I was around two or so. Dad was Captain of the
Northwestern Wrestling team, so I got to wear a scaled down version of his
In August of '44 we took the train to Greenwich, Connecticut and settled into a house there for about a year. I went to Greenwich Country Day School for second grade. In the summer of '45, we bought a house (for like $5500 then) in another part of Greenwich, Riverside. We were to go through four other houses in Riverside up till 1954 when my folks settled out on Lowther Point right on the Long Island Sound. Folks had it until Dad died in 2000.
I went to Riverside School through eighth grade, and then to a day prep school, Brunswick School, in Greenwich for the next four years. In grade school, I was class president from 5th grade on, and head of the Safety Patrol (got some extra perks through that). In Brunswick, an all guy school as it is today, I played football and hockey, was class president for a couple of years, played the 'female' lead in a school play, won half the math award and at graduation took home the Wooden Spoon Award for being the most popular kid in school. Big pat on the back here folks.
I graduated Brunswick in 1955, and this photo was taken that day. The munchkin on the left is my sister Minda. She's married now and lives in Powell, Ohio. Used to live in Northwest New Jersey, and I think wishes they were back there. I spent the summer of '55 teaching sailing at Riverside Yacht Club and then, come September, headed north to New Haven, and checked into Yale University. I worked weekends during high school at the local Mobil station in Cos Cob. This was also the period I was building my 1949 Ford. Bought it the day I turned sixteen. I had a paper route since I was twelve and socked it away, so I got it in 1953 and went to work on it. Took years, but lowered it and did all the neat custom things of the times to it. Kept it through college, then sold it to a guy in Atlanta in 1958.
Started Yale in 1955 and then graduated in 1959. Lived in Pierson College my last three years, and majored in Geology. I was in St. Elmo Society, a fraternity then and a senior society now. Being a kinda jock, I never had a drink till college. Learned to like beer and did a lot of catching up over the next few years. During the summers, I worked pipeline as a welder, spent a summer at the V.P.I. Geology Field Camp in Saltville, Virginia. Talk about Appalachia! Next summer I worked as a roughneck on a rig in the gas fields of East Texas for Sun Oil. Talk about Hot and Humid! Finished up on the Dean's List, and got a BS. Took all the courses and papers for the MS, but Yale said I couldn't get it at the same time as the BS. They wanted another year's tuition. Oh well, what's a piece of paper?
Back in those
days, there was the Draft. Korea was over, and no one ever heard of Viet Nam,
but you still had to put in your time. When I was a freshman, I was in the Air
but the government was cutting back and dropped about 100 units including
Yale's. Still wanted to fly, so joined the Marine Aviation Program. Went to
Quantico in the fall of 1959 for PLC and then was to head to Texas for flight
school. When I signed up it was for three and a half years, when I finally got
there it was a 6 year thing. After about a month in
the Corps, I really decided I didn't want that lifestyle. Up till that class,
you had two choices, stay as a ground officer for three years, go enlisted for two. But, our class got the 'reserve' option
as nothing was going on in those days. About 50% of the class took this option.
We stayed on a Quantico and played war games till the six months were up, then
into the reserves for five and a half years. But, leading a blessed life, I
found out that the four years at Yale in PLC counted. Bingo a year and a half
and one summer at Camp Lejune and I was a civilian
During 1960, while being a part time jar head, I got accepted at Stanford to go for my PHD, but then oil exploration didn't look that great at the time with the glut of Mid Eastern oil, so I opted out of that. To kill time between when I got out of active duty and when I was planning to go to graduate school, I took a job as a buyer for Bloomingdale's in Stamford, Connecticut, and then in New York. While there, I met a neat gal who had just moved to Stamford and was working at Bloomies waiting for fall to go to William and Mary back in Virginia where she grew up. Courted her in the back rooms of Bloomingdale's while picking away at my Martin guitar. We both moved to the Big Apple in the Fall of 1960. She on East End Avenue in the 80s, me in the Murray Hill Section, Park and 33rd. Cab ride in those days was a bit over a buck to get to each other. And we did. Well worth a dollar.
Suzanne Danner was a tall thin blond that I couldn't pass up. We got married in Riverside June 22, 1961. By then Suzy was working at McCann Ericson Advertising. I went to work for Gulf Oil in their marketing department in New York City. Here are all the families, mine on the left, Suzy's on the right, and us smack up front in the middle. Told you she was a knock-out. Me, well tell me I don't have a smug look if you will. We got a great apartment in New Rochelle, New York and then moved to Stamford, Connecticut in 1963.
Went to New York University Graduate Business School nights, finished a four year program in under two years and got an MBA in marketing in 1963.
In the meanwhile, all this bed sharing led to us having a son, William Byrnes Putman 3rd (called Tripp for triple) on June 26, 1963. We then moved to Stamford while I worked in the City, and then in 1964 moved to Strafford, Pennsylvania. By then I was in Gulf's real estate department and was working for them in Bala Cynwyd heading up their Eastern Region. Lived there about a year, then moved back to New York, took a job as Director of Real Estate with American Express at 65 Broadway. Got a house in Rowayton, Connecticut, and became a full time commuter on the NY NH & H railroad. If I could get out of work a tad early, I would get the 5:35 from Grand Central. First stop was Riverside, three more and home in Rowayton. The last car was the Greenwich Bar Car. Actual leather chairs, pictures on the wall of 'locals' and all that. Kinda like hanging around the old bar at the Yale Club.
In 1968, the guy who was Gulf's regional VP in Philly when I was there, had gone as executive VP with Howard Johnson's. He brought me up to the home office in Boston to run their real estate department. That was okay. We moved to Marblehead for a year, and then built a house in Hingham, on the South Shore where we stayed till 1988. We lived at 18 Minuteman Road, and that's where all the Minuteman Racing stuff stems from. More on that foolishness later. But then in 1969, Ho Jo wanted to send me back to NYC and head up marketing. I quit. Just too many promotions and toooooo many moves. The cat Suzy is holding is the first of now three Abigails. If you want to see more of the cats, they have their own page on this website.
Well anyway, took a job with Arby's Roast Beef developing locations in New England till they went belly up. So, rather than get a real job, I began, a now 30 some year program, of trying to avoid working. But, I was getting into sportscar racing with my Datsun 240Z in SCCA Regional racing. This was amateur, no prize money, and I found out quickly it was a rich guy's sport and I wasn't. So, had to do something and quick. Always enjoyed marketing, advertising, and especially graphic design. "Buy me lunch and a couple of drinks, and I'll design you a logo and letterhead." Thought maybe I could do a tad better if I actually charged for this. So...
Opened up William Putman Associates on Newbury Street in Boston. Began as a one man design/advertising agency doing mostly brochures, graphics and ads for real estate developers. Within six months had to hire three designers to help with production. Over the next seven years, we moved three times on Newbury to bigger quarters, staff went up to over twenty five people, and we found ourselves in the top twenty ad agencies in Boston. Damn, this was becoming a job with a lot of moving, and here I was trying my best to 'downscale' my life. Sold the whole kit 'n kaboodle to a bigger agency. This was around 1978. Speaking of the 70s, here's a shot of my folks, Suzy, Tripp, Minda and her husband Jim Daniell, and me in the middle. Can you believe we wore hair and clothes like that back then?
In the meanwhile, Suzy was making duffle bags and some other items, all appliquéd with animals,and selling them to some local stores. Suzy was a very talented gal. Designed and did a zillion needlepoint pictures and pillows and such. She also made most of her own clothes. I was bored by then, so we formed TreeTops and got into clothing lines, garment bags, totes and all that. Everything was appliquéd, and that was a hot look in the 80s. We operated out of our house, a real cottage industry. Bunch of school kids cut out the designs in the basement, home sewers took the stuff home and appliquéd it, and then we had contractors put the things together. We had a couple of dozen sales reps around the Country and in Hawaii selling to specialty stores, and we were in a whole bunch of catalogs.
Suzy had asthma all her life. The kind of short of breath a lot stuff. But starting in 1985, each summer she would have a big attack that completely shut off her breathing. I would somehow get her into the car and race to the hospital only about 5 miles away. She was probably clinically dead when she got there, but they would give her shots of adrenaline, get her heart going and she was back home in a couple of days. Doctor kept telling me just to call 911 and have them take her. On August 6, 1987, she had a bad one and I did call 911. Took forever to get there and I couldn't convince them to get her to the hospital as fast as possible. By the time they did get her there, it was just too late. I wouldn't get another chance, but if I did I sure would have just taken her to the hospital by myself.
Spent the next several months winding down the business. Tripp was in Atlanta working for Suzy's dad, who just wouldn't accept retirement gracefully. He just kept opening up other businesses. While down in Atlanta, Tripp who has a drug and depression problem, was beginning his first jail term. I really didn't want to keep the clothing business going without Suzy who did all the designs and stuff. We had always talked that when we ever retired, we would open a Bed and Breakfast. We always stayed in them, mainly in Ski Country, and it looked like fun.
Found a big old estate in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, fixed it up, and opened the Simmons Homestead Inn in August 1988. Still here and probably will be forever. The Inn is one of the largest on the Cape, and I can afford enough help that I only have to do the fun stuff. I also operate the Inn under the TreeTops corp, so it pays all my expenses and all that. I haven't had any income in a decade, but am doing just fine. You can see the Inn by going back to the home page and clicking on it's link or go to http://www.SimmonsHomesteadInn.com
A couple of months after I came down here, I saw where they were setting up a young widow support group. A group like that had been very helpful to me after Suzy died, so I went to see how I could help. Met a young gal, Peggy Parkhurst, who had been widowed for about five years at the time. To make a long story short, we got married in about two months. But I had been married 28 years, she about 16 years. We had different needs and stuff. She had two teens and Tripp was up here in jail again. Just didn't work. Couple of years later, we just shook hands and went our own ways. Suzy's mother, Dorothy, sort of took on Peggy right off the bat as a surrogate Suzy. Dorothy used to come up to the Cape every year, and spend half the time with Peggy and half with me. Worked for all of us.
I tried a little dating after that, but found that after about the second date, they started moving in clothes and such. Enough is enough, so I've stopped that. The growing number of Inn guests, cats and sports cars take up all my 'social' time as it is. Also I've become a bit selfish of my life after Abigail let me read her book on taking care of yourself first and foremost. If you have any codependency issues, take a look at it yourself. It's on the home page or just go to http://www.BillPutman.com/Abigailbook.htm and learn how a cat can do it, and how you can too. There may be a sequel comming. Got a tortoise shell cat Amanda, named for Amanda Blake co-star of Gunsmoke who's TV name was, of course, Miss Kitty. Like each and all Torties, Amanda is genetically required to be a good old Jewish American Princess, or maybe just a Bitch Goddess. I have the distinct feeling she really knows how to be number one.
One of the things I have found about putting yourself in the numero uno position, is that you tend to kinda over compensate and get a bit compulsive. Me, I'm becoming a master at that for sure. My various collections attribute to that. Up to 58 red cars all out back in Toad Hall, 464 different Single Malt Scotches and 26 cats. All these 'clusters' are growing and growing. A little out of hand, but what the heck. These guys are hanging around waiting for the Scotch Tasting Session. Patient little devils.
Anyway, going back a bit in time. My son Tripp married Eileen Sullivan in 1993, and they presently have two sons,William Byrnes 4th and Maxwell James. He operated his own business for about 8 years doing line striping in parking lots, paving and maintenance. The business had to be sold off due him being back in jail for the 6th time, about 5 years this time. Hopefully, they'll get him in a recovery program and bring this all to a halt. I've had him in various programs since he was ten years old. He got out in the summer of 2006 and has a job and as many times before, doing okay. Keep yuor fingers crossed that he won't finish the cycle again. Here is a picture taken around 1996 showing the four generations of William Byrnes Putmans.
Might as well try and slip in a somewhat recent picture of myself taken about four years ago. No, the cute thing isn't mine, just a guest at the Inn that summer. See, told you I could get enough 'socializing' right here at the Inn.
You probably noticed I was smoking. I was back on them after
several 2-3 year layoffs. But, if you are really good at something you just
shouldn't stop. Drives my doctor nuts when I see him for my annual go over. He
tries, but can never find anything wrong. Told him to quit looking, waste of
time. Finally did give them up as a 'birthday present' in April 2005. Nothing to do with health, sheer economics. A pack here
costs $5 and I was buying on line for about $2 when suddenly they said they
couldn't sell in Massachusetts any more. Smoking around 3 packs a day would run
me over $100 a week and I just can't afford it. As to health and longevity,
whole thing is genetics. Mother died suddenly at age 90. Had colon cancer, but
then hadn't been to a doctor in over twenty years and was playing golf the year
before at 89. Still be around now if she had herself
checked out every so often. Her mother made it till age 98. Dad died at 94, but
his mother made it be 97 and her mother went to 103
back in the 1800s. When Dick Clark was asked how he always looked so young, he
replied, "Pick your parents very carefully." Works
for me. Figure I should be around 115 or 120 years, so lots of time left
for cars and cats, and for another dozen or so years, the Simmons Homestead
Speaking of cars. We were, weren't we? Just in case though, go back to the home page and click on Bill's Cars. Also click on the Scotch and Cats pages for those collections as well. Cars though are the big space and money taker. Getting close to five dozen of them. Keep them in a series of garages out back called Toad Hall in recognition of the leading character in The Wind in the Willows, Toad, and his fascination with the then new motor car. That's also why they are all red. And that's why there is a frog on the dash of every one of them. Most are British out of the 50s - 60s - 70s, but there a few newer ones, and some cars from Europe and Japan as well. Good news is that they all run, bad news is that it's harder and harder to get them out and give each it's fair share of road time.
The other collection is the Single Malt Whisky (that's how it's spelled in Scotland) one. You can check out the inventory on this website, both by Distillery and by Region in Scotland. To be called Scothch Whisky, it's gotta be made in Scotland, but I have other single malts from Northern Ireland, Japan and the United States. Upwards of 480 different malts at last count. Hopefully close to being the largest collection in America. Guy in Scotland has over 500, so I have a ways to go to clinch the world title. About two years ago, the director of the Glenmorangie-Ardbeg group was over here in the colonies, and put on a Malt Tasting here at the Inn. Brought along a bag piper to boot. Actually the piper was Irish, but we won't tell anyone. The big smile on my face is because I was going to drink someone else's Scotch, and a few unique ones at that. This too is a good hobby. In fact guests comming to the Inn from the U.K., aren't allowed to come if they don't bring me a malt that's unavailable in the U.S. Found a good website over there, so can tell them what to do. I do pay them back, of course, but it is a necessary thing to bring if you want to stay here. They have fun too as they look at it as a kind of treasure hunt. Gotta have everyone enjoy it.
2005 was the 50th Reunion at Brunswick, my old prep school. When we graduated in 1955, there were 16 of us. 50 years later only 10 still around. Of the 10, I was able to con 5 into going back to Greenwich in October for the Homecoming Game. Here we are. I'm second from the left if you can't guess. I am also the only one of this group, and one of three in the class, that is still working at age 68-69. Other guys got real jobs and earned real retirements. Me, about the only way I can retire is to sell the Inn and cars and live off that. Oh well, I enjoy what I do. Most of us really hadn't seen each other in 45-50 years. Bo Dandison on my left moved here to the Cape about 10 years ago and so I have seen him, but not the 40 years before that. It was fun. We had a lot of catching up to do. I am Class Agent for '55 and got info, bios and photos from most all the class. We all look about the same as we did wayyyy back then, except for the universally silverish hair and a few extra pounds. Next major venture along these lines will be my 50th at Yale in 2009. Haven't really been back there in 45 years, but several guys in my class have swung by the Inn over the past several years when they were vacationing here on Cape Cod. That'll be fun too. Of the five guys in the reunion photo, now only Bo Dandison and myself are still around and there are only 6 of us still living in 2014.
There will be more as I get time add to this.