Brushes with Greatness: Twin Towers

Donald Trump in the 80s, in a private jet above New York City

“We wonder why we ride the carousel, we do it for the stories we could tell. ” – Jimmy Buffett

Twin Towers

I think it was probably 1983-85 when I first met Donald Trump.
I don’t know if I actually talked to him or not, but from my first meeting my opinion was set.
It was another one of those promote-or-sell-something meetings that were typical if you worked for one of the major brokerage firms.
I can’t remember if I was with Paine Webber or Smith Barney or Sear’s-owned Dean Witter…
Makes me laugh.

Does anyone else remember them?
A side note; I worked for Dean Witter.
I remember selling my first Ginnie Mae.
I was sitting there and looking at the daily list of promoted inventory and there it was, the creation of what would destroy the economy over 20 years later.
Long story short, I was seeing a government-guaranteed, triple-A rated bond that I could make 4.5% commission on for what had been almost a service.  If I sold this $100,000 government bond I earned a $4,500 commission vs. $100 for a government treasury bond. Well, what do you think the thousands of brokers were going to sell? I’ve never thought about it, but what a significant moment in economic time.

Back to the Trump Meeting.

It was a small conference room at the top of the Twin Towers.
I don’t remember if it was building one or two.
It was a meeting promoting some sort of energy investment, the best new mouse trap.
My friend and I are in a conference room of about 25-30 people.
The first speaker was King Kerschener, the infamous Oklahoma oil man.
This is was the top of the heap for this sort of meeting.
So basically we yawned through his talk and then it happened, to the left of the podium was a large blond man, who later I discovered was Donald Trump.
Yes, he had a presence but to me it was the presence of con-man.
Reflecting back now, I can see where he might have had another effect on someone else.
But my opinion was formulated before he even spoke.
So I definitely have a prejudiced opinion of him now.
I think Donald was promoting one of his deals to the big guys at Smith Barney.
CEO’s, presidents, and major investment holdings.
He really wasn’t talking to the people in the room, but more just a self promotion to his would-be bankers.
Never thought of it, but maybe what I witnessed in that small conference room was the start of what would bankrupt the Taj Mahal.
So anyway, he takes the podium and starts his presentation. Reflecting back, it was basically the same style of  speech he uses at rallies today.
I do remember it was all over the place and I really didn’t know what subject he was talking about.
It was a short presentation, maybe 15 minutes at the most, about nothing. To use his words, it was bullshit.
The meeting was adjourned and we, the brokers, headed straight for the bar. Compted cocktails at the top of the world was really the main reason for being there.
I remember peering out the window.
It was me and I think 3 or 4 other guys. My friend from Pittsburg, a big time bond trader, an oil and gas guy, and I think a commodity trader.
We’re on our second or third cocktail and in walks the future President of the United States.
He was with the big guys from Smith Barney and of course, the bankers.
One of the guys he was with was an investment banker I had had cocktails with (got drunk with) at the Red Blazer two days prior. The Red Blazer was a popular watering hole uptown at 73rd and Lexington. I was almost a celebrity there because of my okie accent. When I walked in the bartenders shouted, “Bob from Oklahoma!” They remembered me years later. Just a side note for story I’ll share another time.
Well, this guy saw me and came over to comment on his hangover.
Donald came by and shook his hand.

I can’t remember if I shook hands with Donald or not, but if I didn’t, I would happy about it.

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