The picture above is my esteemed Grandfather, Peter J. Burns and my dear mother at my parents'-to-be Engagement Party 63 years ago! The story of Peter I is remarkable which I have synthesized as an excerpt in my erstwhile (and unfinished) autobiography below:
As I mentioned earlier, I was born in New Jersey and both sides of my family on my mother and father’s were raised there. My mother’s family on her father’s side, had emigrated from Germany in the late 1800’s and anglicized their name from von Brieg to Briegs. Later in life I learned that the von Briegs were from Prussia with a royal lineage of a Herzog (equivalent to a Duke) or two dating back some 900 years. I always knew I was royal! My mother’s mother was from a nice Irish family, referred to as “Lace Curtain” Irish. On my father’s side, his father was of Scottish heritage and my grandmother was pure Irish. Nothing distinguishing in their backgrounds except my grandfather’s uncanny ability to make money…and a lot of it.
Grandad worked at Sterling Drug for 35 years, always refusing the presidency of the company. He liked to sell and to travel, he said and riding a desk was not his idea of having fun. In later years, we would learn why. My dad and his brother lived a very nice lifestyle. They went to the prestigious prep school at Peddie ("Princeton Prep") and lived in a palatial estate once owned by the original “Godfather” Vito Genovese.
You see, the Burns and Genovese clans attended the same Catholic parish in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Vito and Grandad knew and liked each other (don’t ask me why) and when Vito had the need to show a legitimate source of cash (for an IRS problem or divorce issue) he came to my dad to buy his estate. Even back in the 50s, Vito’s place, high up on a cliff overlooking the bay, with the main house boasting a living room on the second floor that could hold a couple of hundred people, a dining room whose table sat 100 comfortably, a guest house, what appeared to be sentry towers at the front gate and even an apartment house that served as housing when the Don’s foot soldiers “went to the mattresses,” …..the place was worth millions. Grandad gave Vito his requested $100,000 in cash and that’s how our family bought the Godfather’s mansion.
In any case, my grandfather accumulated an enormous sum of stock and options in his company and upon retirement, he’d have to exercise those options and sell lots of stock to pay Federal taxes on the gains to the IRS. My grandfather deeply detested the IRS and loathed having to pay the exorbitant taxes on his stock. Then, an opportunity to screw the IRS came up….
If you can remember, the 70s were tumultuous times with OPEC flexing its muscles and causing gas shortages and long lines in the U.S. As a way to stimulate gas and oil exploration in the U.S., the Feds instituted a program that allowed a 7 to 1 write off for all U.S. taxpayers to invest in U.S. drilled oil and gas projects. Grandad, hoping to screw the IRS, rolled the dice and put every dime of his 35 years of accumulated stock earnings into a wildcat oilman by the name of U.E. "Pat" Patrick. However, instead of screwing the IRS and wiping out any of his gains by a factor of 7, Mr. Patrick actually hit 7 straight wells, making a veritable fortune for my grandfather, some 40 plus years ago. Grandad’s earnings topped $50MM (1970s dollars), and Patrick Petroleum became one of the biggest independent oil companies in the U.S. and actually making it to the big time being listed on the NYSE.
Now, of course, the money belonged to Grandad but he was nothing if not generous to our family and Uncle Dick’s family and we all received generous gifts all the time. It was kind of understood that Grandad’s millions would trickle down to his seven grandchildren (including yours truly) on a generation-skipping trust, with my dad and uncle receiving a lifetime income…or something along those lines. In this budding capitalist’s little mind, that added up to the nice round sum of $7 million heading my way someday.
Meanwhile, I continued to think up new business ideas, which were getting bigger and better, letting my future inherited fortune remain somewhere in the background. And stay in the background it did because upon my dear grandmother’s death at the age of 75, having been married to Grandad for 50 years, my grandfather took a cruise to Greece and several weeks later announced to his family that he had made the woman of his dreams an “honest woman” and was now re-married. To say we were all shocked was one of the greater understatements of all time.
To learn more about my remarkably talented and one-of-a-kind grandfather's life, visit www.peterjburns3.com and read the start of my autobiography...which I am less than 1/3 of the way through. lol
In any case, my apparently "inherited" inclination for taking risks and flaunting the traditional path of the privileged background offered me is well outlined in the former blog post called "Pedigree of an Entrepreneur" found on the link below:
So at the age of 61, my entrepreneurial fervor continues and since I settled in La Jolla (2 years now) I have started several ventures like www.lv4less.com, www.hlcostseg.com, www.petjetstravel.com, www.financingdebtandequity.com, www.entcreditcard.com/imagine, www.aviatravelservices.com and exciting new "(ad)ventures" in Vietnam, promoting a Persian Princess's art and launching a new credit repair/enhancement and Consumer Landing Platform.
My two beautiful daughters have taken the traditional route of working after university and married, blessing their mother and me with seven spectacular grandchildren (all age 3 and under-two sets of twins). Keeping to the premise of my blog's title...my twin granddaughters pictured below may just be the ones from their generation to carry on the "Burns Legacy!"