Losing my Dad, But gaining a Hamptons Home…
I would NOT own a beautiful home at 50 Dune Road, Westhampton Beach if it was not for my father, who died when I was only 8. My dad, David Walker Jayne IV, was the Executive Producer for ABC NEWS with Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walter until his death September 23, 1977. Barbara Walters had just interviewed Yasser Arafat and my father along with another Producer and two pilots had to fly the tapes from Amman, Jordan to Beirut, Lebanon. The plane crashed upon take off. To this day we do not know the reason: shot down by terrorists, pilot error, plane malfunctions, etc.???
Although I will never have my father back, I would never have my home at 50 Dune Road if it was not for his untimely death. My father left me in his will some shares of Liz Claiborne Inc., one of the most admired companies within the fashion industry for years. I followed those shares and reinvested them for years until I actually became an employee of Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1991 when I graduated from Syracuse University.
I joined a summer share house my freshman year of college on Weesuck Ave in East Quogue and was in that share house for over 10 years; enjoying ALL that the Hamptons has to offer. The share houses were #6 and #9 and across the street from each other. I actually was in charge of recruiting share members for the “Weesuck Houses.” The WEESUCK HOUSES were legendary from before I was born until now, 2015, when the second house was finally just sold this month. As many as 500 people were share members of these houses over the years. Being in the fashion industry meant I was mainly surrounded by women; attractive, smart, and well dressed women. I would recruit these amazing ladies and then of course the men would follow. It also helped that I bartended at many bars in the Hamptons: Dune Deck in Westhampton, DRIFT INN in Hampton Bays, SURF CLUB in Westhampton, and CASEYS in Westhampton Beach. ALL are closed today except for the DRIFT INN.
One day in 1997 it was pouring rain in the Hamptons and I had just received my investment statement. I was reviewing it and saw that my shares in LIZ had grown considerably. I had also invested some other inherited monies from my Dad’s passing into what is called a “BOILER ROOM” operation. The IPO’s I purchased doubled and tripled overnight at times. I showed my brother in law who was a stock broker at Merrill Lynch my “CHOP SHOP” stocks and he said “get out of those stocks immediately!” I thought to myself, I LOVE THE HAMPTONS, why don’t I look at buying some real estate to diversify my investments and unload some of those penny stocks that my brother in law was warning me about…
It rained all week and I decided to take this real estate idea seriously. I walked into Norma Reynolds real estate firm in 1997 located on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Even though I was in fashion, I was wearing flip flops, faded jeans, and a tee shirt with holes throughout. They must have thought I was homeless. Norma Reynolds, who has now passed away, was SO friendly to me even though I looked like a bum. She introduced me to her daughter Vicky Reynolds and this is how it went, almost verbatim.
Stephen: Nice to meet you Vicky.
Vicky: Nice to meet you Stephen.
SJ: I am looking to buy a home, BUT it must be on the water.
VR: What are you looking to spend Stephen?
SJ: I am looking to spend about “3 to 5.”
VR: 3-5 million?
SJ: NO! 3-500k. I am in sales at LIZ and make about $50k a year
VR: (without judging me or looking down at me, she said. “OK, in that price range it will be tough to find a home on the water, but let us see what we have.”
She spent the entire rainy day with me, showing me every single house in that price range. Some were actually falling INTO the water. I didn’t really like any of them, but she was extremely patient with me.
VR: I have one last home to show you, but it is a little higher in price…
I looked throughout the home on Dune Road: heated gunite pool, tennis court, Path to the ocean, dock, sandy beach on Quantuck Bay, etc. etc. I left the home in less than 10 minutes…
VR: why are you rushing out of this home Stephen?
SJ: I know I cannot afford the home. I don’t want to waste your time nor the owners.
VR: well, the home is owned by a local artist named Muriel Karasik and her children want to sell it since she is getting older.
SJ: How much are they asking?
SJ: $800k! Are you kidding me! I said 300-500k, I only make $50k a year! What the heck!
***That is when Vicky Reynolds looked right at me and said: “make an offer, for I know you love this home.”
SJ: What is there not to love? Would $500 be insulting?
VR: $500k is low, but I will put in the offer.
I drove home later that evening with a pit in my stomach thinking what the heck did I just do… When I got home my antiquated answering machine was blinking RED. I pushed the play button and it was Vicky Reynolds stating; “Well, guess what Stephen, you have yourself a home!”
The next day I called my stock broker at the BOILER ROOM firm and said we need to sell all of my stock so I can pay for the down payment. He said: “you cannot sell Stephen; I put you into these stocks as a favor to you! You must hold onto them.” We went back and forth forever, until I finally said: “SELL THOSE STOCKS OR ELSE I AM CALLING YOUR COMPLIANCE DIRECTOR.”
He sold some of the stock, but barely half. Most of the monies came from the LIZ stock that I inherited from my Dad and held onto for so many years. The following week I was in Las Vegas with the MAGIC (men’s apparel guild in California) show and the stock market was taking a HUGE hit. I called the boiler room broker and he had sold 40% of the stock, but then I asked what about the rest. He said: “we are getting beat up, but it should be ok.” Within 6 months the rest of the stock vanished; worthless! The firm went out of business and via arbitration I got pennies on the dollar. If it was not for Norma and Vicky Reynolds being so accommodating to me; I would not have a home on Dune Rd, I would have no money essentially, and I would NOT have all the amazing memories of the Hamptons as a home owner.
I learned in my training program at Liz Claiborne that you can “never judge a book by its cover.” My 6 month retail store training proved to me that even if someone is dressed “shabby” and does not appear to have money to spend, you should still treat them with respect and courtesy. That is how Norma and Vicky treated me, and that is the way everyone should be treated.
I will never have my father again, but I truly think that my home is a “gift” from him.