There are the crashed financial empires of today, and the crashed empires of yesteryear.
Each generation leaves its famed financiers. A forgotten tycoon is Lytton Financial, which was a high flying savings and loan company. Its founder, Bart Lytton, looks right out of the “Mr. Drysdale” California of the 1960s.
Lytton, who was nicknamed Black Bart, was a high flyer who was very active in Democratic politics, according to a Time article. But by 1968, parts of his S&L empire were given to other banks.
Bart, who was known for his support of arts causes, died of a heart attack in June of 1969, after his empire collapsed. There is a park in Palo Alto named after him.
I went to work for Lytton Savings in 1968. I was in my early 20’s. I started out as a supply clerk in the purchasing department and later became Assistant Purchasing Agent. When I went for the interview for the position it was through an agency in Beverly Hills. I had longish hair, sideburns and a moustache. After all it was the late 60’s ! I wore a grey suit with either a pink or blue pastel shirt and tie. I was told by the Agency I would have to get a haircut, lose the moustache and sideburns and go with a white dress shirt if I was serious about getting the job. So I did. My first day on the job I noticed guys working there with long hair, sideburns and even moustaches and beards. Mens clothing was also a shock. Pastel blues, pinks, greens, almost any color you could imagine. Then I met Bart Lytton. He introduced himself to me and welcomed me to Lytton. He was wearing a Grey Jacket, Black turtleneck sweater and Black slacks along with Black love beads ! I thought this guy was so cool! He told me that he felt it was important for everyone to be themselves. He really valued the employee and felt if you’re happy working there then you’re going to do a good job and won’t be looking for time off. He had a lounge in the basement of the building for the employees. It was actually more like a cafeteria. Hot meals, cold cuts, lunches, snacks, drinks. All free ! That’s what I said, FREE ! He was determined to take care of his employees. I was never more impressed with a Boss in my life. Even until today. On the Forth of July, nearly one month after I started working there he threw a party for all of the employees at his home in Bel Air. So there I was, a young kid who just got hired as a stock clerk at a place like this. He wanted all of his employees to feel important and worthy. He was one hell of a boss and one hell of a human being. I consider myself fortunate to have known him.
It was fun seeing your story on Bart Lytton. I worked for him for 5 years (mid 1960 to mid 1965) and could tell you many true experiences about this colorful man. I also worked for Mark Taper for about 3 years and have many recollections about him. Contact me if you have any interest. Dick Love