Respondent
Fine, Milton
Interview Date
1999
Abstract
Respondent Lawyer, Entrepreneur, born, 1926.
[T1S1] Respondent provides background information: father, Samuel Fine, born in Russia, mother, Ida Krimsky; born in Poland; parents arrived in America, 1911. Respondent gives date of birth, born in Passavant Hospital, Pittsburgh.; notes father tailor in East Pittsburgh.; provides names and ages of 3 siblings; discusses growing up in East Pittsburgh., describes area: main industry, Westinghouse Corp., difficult times, depression years, comments on father's bartering: free dry cleaning services in exchange for dental work. Respondent reflects on flood of 1936: destruction, no water; gives name of elementary school: Bessemer Ave. Elementary, close to Respondent's home; positive experience; mentions synagogue, attended for short time, had Bar Mitzvah. Respondent recounts few Jews in East Pittsburgh.; enjoyed going to movies; explains move to Melvin St. in Squirrel Hill at age 14; father's business, Fine Brother's Cleaners, remained in East Pittsburgh.; describes attendance at Taylor Allderdice High School: shock, did not do well academically. Respondent notes as child, leaned towards communism; parents not religious, no synagogue affiliation; father came to America to escape draft in Europe, radical in his political views; Respondent comments on interest in politics at early age. Respondent gives date of graduation from high school: 1944; accelerated in special program during World War II; attended Penn State University 1 semester then entered Army, sent to Fort Bragg, N. Carolina, 17 weeks, rigorous program. Respondent recalls Army life: sent to England, then served in France, in charge of security for group of warehouses: describes experiences and responsibilities; comments on attending University of Pittsburgh. under GI Bill of Rights: undergraduate degree: Political Science with minor in Economics, Law degree, 1950; notes few opportunities available for Jews.
[T1S2] Respondent describes first position: lawyer in cousin's firm, was fired within 6 months; explains his problem with authority, needed to be own boss; explains interest in labor law: idealistic, wanted to "save the world" and make it a better place. Respondent discusses opening office and moves to various locations, gives name of partner: Ed Perlow, life long friend; describes early social life: radical, left wing, close to becoming Communist because of father's views; love for reading great influence on Respondent's life. Respondent repeats information from previous tape; comments on marriage to Sarah Fogel, 1952, age 26; gives names and ages of 3 children, describes purchase of first home then second home; notes wife Orthodox Jew, not comfortable for Respondent; married 15 years, then divorced. Respondent notes becoming restless practicing law in mid 1950s: no leverage as attorney, more value as businessman; first business venture: selling trading stamps to super markets, made significant amount of money, still continued to practice law; second business venture: entered appliance business: Kelly and Cohen, went public, sold out early 1960s; started real estate syndication organization: organizing partnerships and selling investments in apartments and shopping centers; led to motel/ hotel business. Respondent describes early family life with wife and children, their schooling and education; notes 1 daughter in London, other 2 children in Boston.
[T2S3] Respondent provides lengthy discussion on entering hotel/motel business with partner, Ed Perlow: looked at small hotel in Erie, Pa., purchased it with understanding owner would manage it; motel owner died, Respondent recalls learning motel management from employees and his work involved: lucrative venture. Respondent describes purchasing land in Carlisle, PA, built Howard Johnson motel, leading motel company at that time: Respondent and partner operated motel, Howard Johnson operated restaurant; describes securing mortgage and purchase of several other motels; continued to practice business and corporate law and real estate law; continued to look for other projects nearby. Respondent details changes created by building of tunnel on Parkway West; explains reasons for purchasing site in Greentree, close to city and airport, unable to get mortgage in Pittsburgh., provided by bank in San Francisco; built Greentree Marriott, impressed with management; hired others to run motel. Respondent mentions high quality of Marriott Hotels; describes expansion of motel from 250 to 500 rooms; former company Interstate Motor Lodges, changed name to Interstate Hotels Corp.; explains sale of previous motels and building hotels. Respondent notes through syndication, both investors and partners received returns; describes 2 day course taken in New York on syndication; notes Greentree Marriott completed: 1971; reflects on purchase of hotels in other cities and work involved. Respondent comments on strong relationship with Marriott Corp., owned 30-40 Marriott Hotels; explains business sold late 1990s; began third party management; comments on managing other hotels: gives names. [T2S4] Respondent describes partnership with Ed Perlow: unique, complete trust in each other, did not divide duty by function; comments on Ed Perlow's death while playing tennis with Respondent: traumatic; explains buy sell agreement and decision to go public: tried to avoid it previously, affects decision making; discusses acquiring real estate from another company: gives name; venture capital company, sold to Patriot American Hospitality, Inc., now Wyndham, notes purchase price, several billion dollars; notes Interstate Hotels Corp. largest independent hotel management company in world. Respondent comments on retirement; continues to maintain small hotel business; enjoys work, travel and golf; lists positions held on several boards: Wyndham, venture capital board of City Corp and others; discusses interest in art: chairman of board, Carnegie Museum of Art; collector of contemporary art; notes Carnegie International largest show of its kind in world; comments on Carnegie Museum: needs work to bring it up to date, flow of traffic difficult; shows awards received.
[T3S5] Respondent gives name of wife: Sheila Cook Reicher, gives number of grandchildren: Respondent's and wife's; expresses warm feelings about family; explains being Jewish in early age difficult: employment, serving on boards; notes change of political ideas at older age: now registered Republican; describes feelings on being American: grateful because of great constitution and economy of country; believes problems will work themselves out; now involved in writing book.
Subjects
Business; Industries; Interstate Hotels Corporation; Lawyers; Law; Marriott Hotels; Museums; Carnegie Museum of Art; Patriot American Hospitality, Inc.; Perlow, Edward; Wyndham Worldwide
Length (hours)
3.5
Interviewer1
Karelitz, Bess
Interviewer2
Rubinstein, Judy
Indexer
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 101 FF 28
Identifier
ais196440.122
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh