“I had a dog named Piper, I used to have to run after. He used to run away all the time. Now that I think of it, other than when I was at Yale, I have always had a dog. ”
These breakfasts with my grandfather have been a persistent highlight of my last two years. One of us is always late, and one of us is always not minding. We generally get to sit at the booth by the window, that’s my favorite, but sometimes they shove us in the back. We always meet at Bucks.
“Actually, I don’t think I had a dog at Harvard Business school either.”
Curious, I decided to pipe up.
“Wait, I’m not sure I knew you went to Harvard Business School.”
All I know about Pops’ schooling is that he went to Scarsdale Highschool and Yale. And pretty much all I knew about Pops before we started having consistent dinners, other than he was a VC, was that he definitely went to Yale. He loved his time at Yale.
Ask him about the time he caught a touchdown pass to win the game.
One of my grandfathers greatest disappointments is that not one grandchild went to Yale. I did get to visit Yale once! I visited Yale during junior year of highschool to tour, Pops set it up for me to tour and meet the head of the school! Unfortunately, all I remember is that New Haven has a Popeyes Chicken, and it was delicious. I digress.
“Well sure. I met some great people at Harvard. I already had a wife and child (Becky).”
The food arrived in the middle of the story. I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering all the vegetables that Buck’s has to offer, and asking them to stir fry it… and then asking for a side of Bacon. A contradiction of meal choice. Healthy and Bacon. If I’m there consistently enough I’m hoping they name it after me and put it on the menu… call it “Breakfast with Pops.”
Pops is the most regular, regular at Buck’s. He could say “The usual.” and they would deliver him exactly what he wants, but the waitress and him still do the same song and dance with some combination of eggs, bacon and pancakes in different styles and shapes - his beverage is first a coffee, and then an orange juice delivered half way through the meal.
“Would you like the real maple syrup on the side?”
Asked Karen, our waitress.
“Of course I want the Real syrup!”
This seemed to a strong point of contention for my grandfather. Some people are outraged about plastic straws, my grandfather is outraged about fake syrups creeping into his breakfast conversations.
“Why do they have to ask that? Of course everyone wants the good stuff.”
After a few bites, he continued his story.
“When I graduated from Harvard, my Dad, your great-grandfather gave me some sound advice, and he said, ‘You should drive across the country and stop in Chicago and other cities and visit my friends on the journey to connect.’”
“That’s awesome, where did you go!!!”
I asked with surprising excitement about some unknown adventure that my grandfather took when he was younger.
“It was a great idea! But as I explained to my dad, 'I have a wife and child, I can’t just up and take this trip. I NEED A JOB! and so I took one with Inland Steel.”
My grandfather wears a sport coat and collared shirt every day. Always bright colors or checkered patterns. He is always in immaculate form. 6 years ago he wore this same outfit on a canoe trip, the canoe capsized, and flipped him into the water, and I swear to you, he walked out of the water with the sport coat tossed over his shoulder, looking like Sean Connery in James Bond. He didn’t look wet, he was completely unshaken, with a grin on his face. The man is what you would imagine a “True Gentleman” to look like.
“After 4 years at Inland Steel, you know what almost caused me to not come out to California with your great grandfather and become a VC?”
He leaned over his eggs with, and his eyes widened with a smile ear to ear.
“At Inland Steel, if you sold enough clients, I think it was 10, you were able to eat in the 'Officers Dining Room,’ and I had just started eating there!”
He nodded his head back down to his food, with his boyish grin. I have a feeling that Venture Capital would have been a very different business if he hadn’t come out. I’m pretty glad that Inland Steel didn’t feed him too well. There would be far fewer startups in Silicon Valley.