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Book details
  • SubGenre:Personal Memoirs
  • Language:English
  • Pages:180
  • eBook ISBN:9781667867526
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667867519

What's Left Is Mainly Brown

by Philip N. Becton II

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This "smart, funny, honest telling of a life well lived" (James Patterson) spans 85 years in the fascinating life of a truly self-made man. A child of the pre-war South, Philip Becton has been everything from a cotton farmer and Navy bombardier to a Wall Street broker and corporate founder. His is a classic American story with a sweeping front-seat view to history.
In this heartfelt and inspiring memoir, Philip Becton shares insights, stories, and lessons learned from his uniquely American life. Spanning 85 years of experiences as everything from a cotton farmer and Navy bombardier to a Wall Street broker and modern-day corporate founder, Becton's is a classic American story with a sweeping front-seat view to history.
About the author
I was born November 16, 1938 in Greenville, South Carolina. My mother's maiden name was Becton too, which some of my friends say tells something about me. Daddy, a lawyer, died when I was three. Mother resumed teaching to support us and got her oldest sister, Sue, a retired teacher, to come live with us and help raise me. I took piano lessons, shot squirrels out of the neighbors' pecan trees, was a Boy Scout, and then a tennis player. I went to the high school where Mother taught journalism, and won the state high school tennis championship in singles, and with partner Jack Sterling, in doubles, our senior year, 1956. I got into Princeton on scholarship, class of 1960, working in Commons, the undergraduate dining halls. I played tennis the first two years and rugby the next two. I majored in philosophy. At the end of sophomore year, I was tending bar for the class of 1913 Reunion. On the last night my friend and classmate Dave O'Neal said that there was a high school graduation party at the Jersey Shore and he knew a "hot Swede" who was going to be there. He'd buy us a case of beer, if I would gas up my illegal car, a $75 '50 Chevy and drive us there. We actually found it, a huge five-story beach house right on the ocean. It was filled with recent graduates of Ridgewood High, the Montclair football team, and four or five well-lubricated chaperone mothers. I approached a good-looking blond sitting on the staircase. Her name was Betsy Hall and it was her house. We were married two years later on December 29, 1960. We honeymooned in Europe, primarily in Barcelona, paid for by a stipend left Betsy's generation, in trust, by a rich, unmarried aunt, to be used only to go to Europe. Afterward, as planned, we drove down to the Pensacola, Florida Naval Air Station and I entered preflight training. I became a bombardier/navigator in the A3D, a twin-jet, carrier-based attack aircraft, that was the Navy's long-range, all-weather nuclear bomber. I survived about two hundred carrier landings, including the 75,000th on the USS Saratoga during her '63 Med cruise. After the Navy, and a short stint at IBM in New Jersey, we and our small children, Neal and Lacy, went to Tampico, Mexico. I had four partners from the Mississippi Delta, and we formed Rancho Los Cinco. We cleared 400 hectares (1000 acres) and planted a cotton crop. It was wiped out by a hurricane. With insurance proceeds, we planted a second cotton crop. Another hurricane. No more insurance. My partners said, "no mas". I lasted two more years on my own, planting various crops. Nothing worked. I eventually turned everything over to the creditors and we returned to the States. It was a financial disaster, but a great life experience for all of us. I learned to speak Mexican, became intimately familiar with Tampico's many cantinas, learned new ways to gamble, shot numerous quail, dove, and ducks and met many colorful and unique characters. Following Mexico, we moved to Betsy's parents' shore house and I looked for a job in sales on Wall Street. I was first hired as a broker with Dominick and Dominick and then with Lehman Brothers. In 1973 Lehman opened an office in Atlanta. I had the right accent, so we went to Atlanta and I became the manager of the Lehman office there from 1973 to 1977. Our third child, Will, was born in 1975. I left Lehman in 1977 and formed PNB Petroleum Corporation which I still have although it is in the process of winding down. I started out syndicating oil and gas drilling partnerships, and later switched, with my present partner, Fred Vollbeer, to buying interests in producing wells. We moved from Atlanta in 2002 to Atlantic Beach, Florida, where I still live. Betsy passed away in 2014. I inherited her Australian cattle dog, Roo who just turned thirteen, and we are both trying to age together more or less gracefully.
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