Control Data’s mainframe super computer – the fastest in the world by far in the late 1970s.
In the mid-1980s we were settled in the Baltimore suburbs where the girls were in school, Michael was gone and I worked in the international business of a major finance company owned by Control Data Corporation headquartered in Minneapolis. In the 1970s CDC was one of the major computer firms in the nation, which included IBM, Honeywell, Burroughs, UNIVAC. DEC and RCA.
By the mid-eighties the parent had fallen on hard times and after several years of losses decided to sell it’s most valuable non-tech asset. It’s Baltimore finance company.
Who takes the company public and assumes full control?
Sandy Weill and his protégé, Jamie Dimon.
Weill and Dimon turned the finance company into the platform which acquired Primerica, Smith Barney, Travelers Insurance and eventually merged with Citicorp where Weill became Chairman and Jamie Dimon became President. Today Dimon is Chairman of JPMorgan Chase.
I got to keep my job. I was appointed to liquidate ourinternational businesses. I knew in advance that would be as long as the job would last. These guys were completely out of my league with little interest in our business other than to use it to raise cash for acquisitions..
and so Toritto, now in his mid forties began selling off and liquidating our international exposures. Our export finance portfolio, guaranteed by Eximbank was easy. I had spent considerable time in Washington at Exim and finding buyers for these deals at par was no problem. The Latin American debt crisis, on the other hand, had created a secondary market for sovereign risk credits. We set up reserves to absorb the losses and began selling rather than participating in restructures.
The most difficult asset to liquidate was going to be our leasing company in Israel. It was Israel’s largest, specializing in leasing farm equipment to Kibbutzim and Moshavim. Toritto was appointed to the Board of Directors of the subsidiary and began making trips every other month to Tel Aviv where I became a regular at the Hilton.
“Welcome Mr. Toritto! So nice to see you again!”
I toured Jerusalem. Left a prayer at the Wall.
and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. I brought home a Christmas candle which is to this day only lit during Christmas eve dinner.
Meanwhile at home the girls were growing, JoAnn was feeling better but again we had to begin worrying about unemployment. Our new management had found my replacement and it looked like the end was neigh. Turns out he didn’t like the environment either and quit after four months. I got an apology for the shabbiness with which I had been treated and began traveling to Israel again. We knew that even if I survived, it would require moving back to New York. Management never moved to Baltimore – they would come in on Monday, stay in a hotel and return to New York for the weekend. We were settled and we wanted to stay put.
and as Christmas passed and vacation passed
and Toritto rested after a long day in the hot sun traipsing around the theme parks
the opportunity came. The third largest bank in Maryland was looking for a Senior Vice President and Senior Credit Officer for its commercial and corporate business.
and I got the job. And I got to call my boss while he was at his Christmas party at his home in New York City and tell him this was my two weeks notice. He was drunk and he got angry. Next day he apologized again. “You did the right thing.” After six years I was back in a bank.
I was happy. I bought a new 1988 white Mercedes -we had it for 14 years until we both became sick of looking at it.
and 1988 would mark our 25th anniversary together through good times and bad. We had never had a honeymoon. So I told her we would celebrate out anniversary and first honeymoon any where in the world she wanted to go. I suggested she think about it.
We spent Easter with her family at a fine Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs. Her older brother Angelo is to her right.
and it was my brother Nicholas’ 40th birthday and his wife gave him a party. Nicholas in the center and middle brother Alfred on the right. My brothers were in their mustache phase. Nicholas would pass at 56 in 2004, just 3 months after JoAnn’s passing.
Meanwhile as our anniversary in December approached she decided where she wanted to go. Hawaii. But she wanted somewhere we could check out of the world for a week.
I found Kona Village on the big island.
“Built on 80 acres on an oasis surrounded by old lava flows, 120 individual thatched roof huts line the shores of the ocean, beach and brackish pond.”
No television in the rooms. No radio. No phone. Of course we didn’t have cell phones then. We found more stars in the sky, more rhythm in the waves crashing to shore, and notable by its absence: a complete lack of busy sounding noise common in most resorts. I got us a place right on the Pacific with our own private beach.
and so we dropped the girls off with her parents in Florida and took a plane to Hawaii for our anniversary – honeymoon. Rented a Mustang convertible, drove around the island, saw volcanoes, shopped in Kailua, spent a day in Hilo; ate, drank, danced at the beachfront bar under the stars to live music, did a Luau, went back to our hale, made love and got to know each other again.
Toritto at 46 and married 25 years. You could get a local paper!
taking the sun
striking a pose.
Kona Village would be destroyed in the great Tsunami and would not be rebuilt.
The new job was going well and this bank felt more like family. Years went by, Marie got her driver’s license and she and Pam began driving to high school.
But if anything, consolidation in the industry was picking up. Now, I reasoned, I had both international and domestic commercial banking experience. It would be five good years before the issue would arise for us again.