I actually had one. My father’s father’s sister’s husband. Captain Amazon Littlefield USCG.  Grandfather James did quite well during Prohibition. My father, Robert...thought himself beyond crime, left home to join the Marines at 17 in 1944 and then went to college on the GI bill back in Rhode Island, where Grandfather James grew up before coming to New Jersey during Prohibition. 

      In 1983, I formed Procurement and Distribution International  after eleven years of  challenging field work...including many months in in Houston, Austin, and Philadelphia, but mostly spent very close to Fort Monmouth. 

       In a place where things were seldom what they seemed, self directed activity was barely tolerated. Night school yes...global enterprise no. From the day I started with P&D I ran into a shitstorm beyond my ability to navigate at twenty five. 

        I was already doing quite well, thinking my progress was due solely to hard work, trial and error, and my own brilliance...Not because of my family or familiar interconnections or government contracting, all of which were beyond me...until 1983.  

        P&D international took a nose dive with me into the permafrost of not the also rans, but the never was category. I have been a never was ever since. But Amazon, Uncle Amazon’s name will never be forgotten...I hope to do the same for Ray Pinnox. I hope people remember Ray.

         Uncle Amazon and Grandfather James, did what they did, between the north shore of Long Island and Block Island, Rhode Island...maybe all the down to Atlantic City, New Jersey. I don’t know...and will never know. 

          Grandfather James was an Army veteran, but we never knew it. My father said next to nothing. The fort was up river, and none of our business, at least until I turned fifteen. I volunteered, but forgot after a few concussions most of what I did, including Procurement and Distribution International. 

           I never knew anything about my own family...I still know very little. My father’s sister’s husband became a VP of RCA, but my father remained a mystery...remains a mystery, even twenty seven years after his death. He left no trail, no records, no real estate. 

           Yet the death of my father in early 1992 left me more than nothing. I had never thought of myself in philosophical terms, I was just kept too busy to give anything much thought. I understood signals, trails, tracks, winks, nods, shoves...but believed only signed contracts and bank balances. I followed the trail, but learned by trial and error how little signed documents and bank balances meant.  I was more than nothing, but that got me nowhere. 

            Signal Operations...counter intelligence, contracting...survival, moderation, celebration...and most of all Freedom, not liberty. I have Freedom, not liberty. I traded in liberty for Freedom. So far so good. Great Uncle Amazon left a trail, thin...but a trail. The James Boys Of Rhode Island? You will never google a thing about them. The tavern in Philadelphia? A myth. The Enterprise? A star ship. The  Amazon? My grandfather’s sister? It’s all Greek to me. I’m a diner guy, and not driving? Remember? Follow the money...but don’t get too close.



Views: 47

Comment by Tom Cordle on February 9, 2019 at 12:21am

I thought from the title you were going to be singing the praises of Jeff Bezos.

Comment by Robert B. James on February 9, 2019 at 8:00am

Rule number one: Things are seldom what they seem. 

Rule number two: There is always a higher level of play.

Rule number three: follow the money, but don’t get to close.


Comment by Robert B. James on February 9, 2019 at 8:02am

Thanks Brother Tom, for reading and commenting. Great Uncle Amazon is no Raytheone, but at least he can be googled. 

Comment by moki ikom on February 9, 2019 at 2:16pm

I've never cared much for u.s. East Coast between the Pequot river and Loxahatchee river maybe becuase it's in my DNA since no maternal or patertnal family history that i know of involves generations east of the Appalachians, east of the Atlantic all the way to Beijing.  I did live a year on the reservation, third floor windows westsouthwest across the Pequot from a cold war primary nuclear target, the nuke sub base in Groton.  Within the reservation Liberty and Freedom were also distinct from one another.  No one of the reservation was ever free and liberty was only allowed on weekends and winter break.  I wonder how your Uncle Amazon became a USCG captain, if he went to the academy.

Comment by Robert B. James on February 9, 2019 at 10:40pm

Moki...I do not think Uncle Amazon went to the Academy, but I do not know for sure. I was not fully aware I even had a great uncle until long after any one who could tell me anything was dead. Nobody talked.  

      I have not extensively traveled in New England.  I’m better between NJ and Florida, but only expert between Sandy Hook and Manasquan. I’ve worked out of Fall River,  Mass and delivered boats all over but never had much time or rest to get to know any of the many places I dropped off the  sailboats and  rowing shells the company built in Connecticut after Fall River went out of business.  

I’ve never spent a winter up there...the ones in New Jersey were bad enough. Summers up there are beautiful but I never had time to enjoy one. 


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