The year was 1975. I was just a punk kid then. Seventeen years old and full of vinegar. So sure of myself and what little the world had to offer. Nothing, that’s what. Like all other teens my age, we waited for what was meant to come to us instead of reaching out and grabbing it. We cared nothing of work. Our only misery came during the hours that we were forced by our parents to be sober. Each summer we would gather nightly on the beach and regurgitate the daily grind of being noble children to captains of industry.
There were ten of us altogether. Each had his or her story to tell about boarding school, boring vacations skiing in Switzerland, and how much our fathers had paid to get us each into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Our mothers were all alcoholics or pill poppers. It might be evident to say that we inherited that behavior. However, each of us would attempt to explain that we chose our own paths to self-destruction. It is difficult to relate but I cannot shrug off the feeling that we were truly happy then. When I say that we hadn’t a care in the world; I mean that literally. The only care that I had was Rachel, and I would like to think that I was hers, having spent so many summer evenings together on the beach; our bodies peacefully intertwined.
My father, Leonidas (Leo) Grandholm inherited his fortune from my grandfather, Harris Grandholm. Harris had predicted the crash of 29’ and sheltered his earnings by removing them from all accounts. When the stock market crashed, Harris Grandholm became the second wealthiest man in the world. Don’t ask me what he did after that to increase his holdings because, despite my inquires, the answer that I am consistently given is that it is a ‘family business.’ Upon Harris’s death, Leonidas was put in charge of the family business. My father was no fool. He made several wise investment decisions after World War II and increased the family’s wealth to three times that which Harris had left him. I thank you, father.
Despite my friends and their desire to sustain their debauchery, I considered myself somewhat level-headed. Nonetheless, the summer of 1975 was beginning to look like it would be the grandest summers of them all. Except for Peter, who was a full year younger than the rest, we had all graduated. This would be our last hurrah before we left for our respective universities. We were all under legal considerations that in order to gain our expected inheritances, we first had to graduate. I myself, was looking forward to school. Rachel and I were both attending Yale in the fall. Though my father had insisted that Harvard had the best pre-law departments in the country, I chose Yale. For the sole reason of course, that Rachel had already been accepted on a full scholarship to their journalism program.
The summer began as it always had, with a rip-roaring beach party. Included in my father’s estate was a small cottage on the Cape. When I say small, I mean four bedrooms, three full baths, a wonderous backyard complete with a hot tub and a service gate that opened directly onto our private beach. This was where I lived each and every summer. My parents did not care. Frankly, I’m certain that their were pleased to have me out of the house. Rachel stayed with me on most nights; as did, much to my chagrin, Michael and Georgia, William and Jennifer, and Peter. Poor Peter.
Peter Kingsley was far from poor in a financial perspective. In truth, his was the wealthiest family of us all. The Kingsley’s were oil magnates who traced their lineage back to the Civil War. Peter’s third Great Grandfather, Faraday Kingsley, an uneducated sort who fled Kentucky when the confederates came to town searching for conscripts. One afternoon in 1865, Faraday struck gold; not the shiny type but black gold…oil, while digging in his meager yard on the north Texas plain. He ran uncontrollably into town and explained to a group of, shall I say, ruffians, that he needed to engage employment from them. Certainly, they didn’t believe him but after seeing the deep hole of thick, bubbling black ink, they were each compelled with a promise of a percentage. Within days, a well was built, along with storage and transportation systems. Within six months, Faraday purchased the 35 acre plot of land and constructed seventeen more drills and wells. A full two years after the young fool first struck oil, Faraday Kingsley was the richest man in the world. At the time of his death in 1882, Faraday was worth 18 million dollars.
The summer went on, and on. We dined on lobster and New York strip. We drank wine and champaign directly from the bottle and enjoyed more cocaine than I would’ve thought was humanly possible. In our little place in the world, we were royalty. We commanded the sun and the moon to rise and fall at our whim. On independence Day, we sat together on the sand with our toes in the water, watching fireworks explode from a barge just off the Cape. We had never been happier. But that happiness would come to a terrifying halt at Summer’s End.
To Be Continued…