How 9/11 Changed The Life of Ex-Cantor Fitzgerald Official, Peter J DaPuzzo Forever

by Ari Schonbrun

 How 9/11 Changed The Life of Ex-Cantor Fitzgerald Official, Peter J DaPuzzo Forever




Peter DaPuzzo, former head of the institutional equities division at Cantor Fitzgerald, holds a photo Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, from an April 1996 company party at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. Of the 11 colleagues in the photo who worked at the World Trade Center, only DaPuzzo, a Riverside resident, did not die in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


Episode Transcription:


(Intro plays)


Ari: Welcome to Whispers  And Bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun and I am your host. I am joined today by Peter de Puzo. Now if you’ve ever worked on Wall Street in the late 1900s, early 2000s, you probably know the name Peter de Pozo. Peter was born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey. He began his career as a runner at Loeb Rhoades, advancing to wire operator in the OTC trading room. He learned how to use teletype and Morse code to relay order executions to corresponding firms in every major city around the US. Peter attended Rutgers University at night and in five years received his BA in Business Administration with a minor in economics. During this time, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Jane, while advancing to junior market maker. He was recognized by John Loeb and many of the other senior analysts such as Mario Gabelli, Mike Steinhardt, John Levin as a trader who could make good judgment calls and have a good feel for the market. Then came Sandy Weill, who became Peters mentor. Sandy gave Peter a wide berth to prove himself as head of equity. He retain that title when the company was known as Shearson Loeb Rhoades, then Shearson American Express Shearson EF Hutton finally Shearson Lehman Brothers. By that point, Peter was running retail and institutional equity trading and sales. Peter was elected president of security traders Association of New York, and then Chairman of national securities traders Association. Peter was often quoted in the press and media as a spokesman for the NASD and overall market. His wife and three sons have stood by him through thick and thin, including his legal battle with the New York Stock Exchange in 1991. And most important, the horrendous personal losses after 911 In the words of Pieter de Puzo, and I quote, nothing in my career was more satisfying than helping others find their talents. Not everyone could be a stock trader, or institutional salesman or retail liaison, but working with people and helping them find their proper position was ever so satisfying. And I kept in touch with dozens of these fellow employees for the last 30 to 40 years. Please help me welcome a former coworker of mine and a dear friend, Peter to Puzo. How are you, Peter?


Peter: Oh, I’m very well, thank you, Ari, I appreciate the kind comments and the introduction, late 90s was very flattery, because actually, I started making my marks in Wall Street in the late 60s. A little older than you are, it started work right out of high school in 1958. And in the mid 60s, you know, getting my apprenticeship, I guess, is what it was and had some good calls. And that’s an awesome, wonderful people who are still lifelong friends.


Ari: Wow, wow, it’s been a long time. Let me tell you, so what have you been doing to keep yourself busy these days, especially during COVID?


Peter: Well, we have sort of been close to home, you know, we’re in the age bracket that we’re trying not to take any extra risks, I would say I’d rather go back a couple of years and say we’ve been working with the Greenwich Hospital on the board. And that was a very satisfying five years working with the Greenwich Hospital board and of the last two years, they’ve asked me to stay on their finance committee. So I’ve done that. And of course, that was all done by Azuma, these kinds of meetings. I’m also a past member of the board of the place called a shelter from the homeless, in Stamford, Connecticut, to change its name to the Pacific house. And it’s a magnificent experience, because it started with my sons and myself and Mary Jane going up and feeding the homeless, you know, they have 7580 People come in every night. And food, in most cases is donated by some of these fast food restaurants. And some of the local restaurants and Leggett fellows come up and say, Can I have another plate? Or is it alright, if I take two goals and you say, My God, you don’t hear really donating your time and seeing the benefit from it. I mean, it’s really very, really in philanthropy that you see the one on one with the people that you want to help. And anyway, I found that I opening in your state of contributor and became a member of the board and they’re doing a wonderful job up there, by the way, they’re buying houses, and redoing them so that the people can get that next step so that if they can get a job, and they help find a job, they can get temporary housing in these buildings, and they’re charging about 25% of what the rent would normally be until they get on your feet and hopefully again, on their own. That was a satisfying thing. But I didn’t close during the COVID thing. I couldn’t do that any longer. So I gave it up to some younger people who are very proud to say are still doing that kind of work.


Ari: That’s awesome. That’s really great. At the end of the show, I’m going to ask you for in case people want to sign up to work there or volunteer, whatever the last few how they should do that. But we’ll do that at the end of the show. Now, as you know, the name of this pack guesses, whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices that tell you what’s the right thing to do. And it represents the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And let’s be real, everybody has bricks thrown at them at some point in time. Now it’s common knowledge that in your lifetime, at some point, you’re going to get hit with at least one brick, if not more. Now, I know that you’ve had some bricks thrown at you. Certainly in 1991. I’ve had some bricks thrown at me. However, I always tell my audiences that I had the biggest brick thrown at me on 911. This is something that you and I share, we’ve both had that brick thrown at us. What I find amazing is especially if listening to what you’ve been doing lately is that we both started listening to the whispers trying to help people and give hope to the world. Now my audience knows my 911 story. Now what we want to hear is your 911 story. were worried that day, what were you doing? How did you survive? And how did you cope with the loss after 911?


Peter: Hey, I’ve never forget where I was. And what I was doing was sort of a change in my life going on in 2001. I was 60. And I was beginning to work just Tuesdays and Thursdays in New York and or three days a week up in the day Rianne office. And I lived up in Wilton, Connecticut, which was pretty far up. So that’s why I did that. And this was a Tuesday morning 911 Never forget that. I was walking down the stairs because I was going to be meeting a financial advisor about getting a new mortgage. And as I was coming down the stairs, I started to notice things on TV, my wife had an unmarried she was listening to the TV, and she says, look, and we just couldn’t believe. I mean, we both just sat down and we’re frozen. And basically knowing the building and having gone through what happened, I guess back in 93, and that time I was in the building upstairs, you will probably to orange army when the explosion in the basement. 


Ari: I remember the explosion the basement. But I started that year in 1993. But I started in October and this happened earlier. This is I think in February. So that was something that I missed. Thank God.


Peter: Yeah, well, in 93 We wrote there is nothing coming and nothing compared to what happened in 911, walking down 105 flights and stuff. But I call the office and Ariane and said you’re hearing from them they were hearing last phrase to help and people sending messages and their family. And you know, it was gonna be devastating. It was just saying what can I do? How can I help? How can they get people out and obviously not just your own firm, but all human beings that were ultimately going to cast that day, even then I know in a building was going to collapse, or the building was going to collapse. And so many souls are going to be lost just sort of craft and we went to our local minister here in town after things were over. And there were lots of people from town gathered Christian, Jew, Muslim, everybody was there. And they had it all in one area, which I thought was really very nice. So we didn’t, we could sit down and talk and go over what our losses were and how sad it was. And for the next three weeks or so Mary Jane and I attended 25 Probably should have been should have done 125 ceremonies, the various shoes and churches and synagogues. And it was just a something where my head was never didn’t stop spinning. And I would love to mix it up. And you know, we said we were going to do this and do that for various people. And he had to do that they had to give them what they were owed. Even though records were not there anymore. Things have been blown up the various backups of what we thought we had really were non existent. You were just thinking and yet the people who lost their lost their partners and spouses, you know, cared very little about how much you were going to give them all children to do for them. But we felt that was one of the only things we could do. And I tell you we had had a good social relationship with our people marriage and and I knew of the 250 people that work directly from me about 100 or people we socialize with meaning to say, you know, we had a Christmas party or we had various functions, and we knew them personally, we knew their children, we knew them. Some of them had just gotten married or this or going to retire one of my status stories. My longest time friend Eddie was Ella had just turned 65 The week before and was going to retire the week before. We had in fact taken them out. Giving them drinks and things were impaired upon it. But the fellow who worked with him was getting married the weekend before 911 and was on his honeymoon. Ready state to cover the accounts. Wow. And so he stayed and that’s where young man I don’t know if he’s ever done. You overheard you know, here he is getting married and starting his life and anyone into his life from a nice retirement he and his wife and you can show them unfortunately, a very sad ending, but they have the following years. It was wonderful to see many of the wives and husbands and children of these fallen heroes a performing hero we haven’t vowel touting or some sort of charitable event. And it was so wonderful to go to that and to say a word or two and about that person and to see that the family was still going forward and still life and you may take something away from somebody, but they didn’t cause them to end their life. And you just have to remember that Dalai Lama I guess. When you look at what’s happened. You have to Finding the right path you cannot control what happens in your life. But you can control the way you what you will do about it. Yeah, your reaction. Your reaction to it. Yeah, I think was someone in Brian Tracy commitment to happen in a puppy 100 Different people get a health project for lunch, how many times you get up? Absolutely. Medicine and things like that I was so impressed with seeing these people being so resilient and being so God fearing and know that they had to raise their children. They know how they had to go forward. And they did. And it was just amazing. We’re still in touch with a lot of fortunately, and they couldn’t, frankly, when you asked me how I handled it, I couldn’t simply think of starting over again, complete. I’ve retired in 2005 Omar, who was my new co worker, senior guy there with me, I said, you please do it for me. I can’t do it. You know, he went and hire whole new people, I couldn’t do that I wasn’t in the frame of mind and think I’m going to replace people who I knew and loved and with other people out there. And I just couldn’t get back to a normal way of life. My business career basically was over and in 2005 issued a golden quit.


Ari: Wow. I’m one of the people obviously that can empathize with you. Besides you guys in equities, I knew that fixed income guys, I knew most of the firm, you know, because of what I was doing at the time, you know, involved with the entertainment tickets and the like. So I just knew everybody and I had for me, I don’t think I’ve ever said any told anybody the thing that I couldn’t get over. I had a guy who was working for me, Keith burns, I don’t know if you remember him or not. But he was. He was he was working for me. And an opportunity arose. And he came to discuss it with me to ask me what I thought. And he had an opportunity to go up to the equity trading floor. And I said to him, I didn’t hesitate. I mean, I say this as much as I would I hated to lose him because he was a great, great employee. I said to him, Keith, what you’re doing now is a dead end job. Okay, it was more for an entry level, which is what you were when you came in, but you’re not going to go anywhere with it. So if I were you, I would jump all over that opportunity. And he did. He thanked me very much for my honesty. And he did. And unfortunately, he was killed that day. He was there and he was killed. And I’ve had to live with that. And I would have told him no, don’t do it. It’s very likely that he will be alive today because he got into the office at nine o’clock. So that was something that I had for a very, very long time I had difficulty with so I know what you’re going through all those people.


Peter: But you know, Lowry, what you’re saying is something there. But he says every member worked in the international area. So he did he started early. And I think he I think he was one of the guys who came in. He loved the work he was doing. The fact is that you gave him an opportunity to enjoy something. Now, there’s no way that I could say what I could say, I mean, if he was there 20 years, you might say look, you’re given an opportunity to to have something for 20 years, maybe only was there a short time and it’s gone. It’s so hard to say we lost them. But he did enjoy that timing was very real. And he was good at it. And it was recognized. Now you certainly can’t blame yourself for helping somebody again and advance them in an opportunity in a place that could have been just, you know, great fam.


Ari: Right? Correct. Correct. It was a tough time. So I guess so obviously, time heals all wounds. This is a tough one. And I don’t know about you. But I still have times where I have difficulty coping with the loss. I just do. It’s not often. But as you know, I go around, I speak a lot about my experience at 911. And there are times where I’ll get up on stage. And I’ll just freeze I’ll turn around because I’m going to about to cry as all the memories come rushing back. So even to this day, it’s still a difficult thing, you know, but the good thing that I feel that the two of us have been doing is sharing our stories, sharing the hope. Love your bio, basically set it all you’re out there to help people you want to do whatever you can, whether it’s advice on career business or anything like that. I know that people always came to you, they always sought your advice. You are an amazing, amazing individual. And the world is lucky to have an individual like you. And we appreciate everything that you’re doing and everything that you do.


Peter: Thing is, you know, you read a quote a while back was something about they may not remember what you said. They may not remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And that was Maya Angelou, Maya Angelou, when I read that 2000 years ago, I should you think of somebody you think like I am that we’re talking. I’m thinking of how these boys and they were boys. I mean, there was nobody on that floor that was older than me. So they were all boys to me, started many sided together. But it’s how they made me feel. And I wanted to make sure I made them feel that my warmth and my guidance if I could give it to them. The satisfaction I did have was having somebody who was really struggling How to be a market maker. And that was one thing or another, when it was really funny, I had a story with one guy because he knew so many people out in Wall Street, they would get this guy would say to him, let’s just say otherwise it’s going to go up because of this. And another friend would call him the next day as a Budweiser is going to go down because of that. And so when he’s trading, it doesn’t matter which way to go. And he would lose money both ways. I’d say, Anthony, everybody loves you. And you’re really such a wonderful man. Why don’t you become a liaison? Why don’t you get these people to call you and give you an order. I mean, if they like Budweiser, maybe to give an order to buy some for them. In the next area, that type of selling, you’re going to get that audit tool, you can get credit and a pat on the back and paid, nice, warm, he became best liaison on the desk. And we still have friends. He’s still a friend now. I’m talking about Anthony Fletcher. Really? Yeah. And Denise 84, I think, and we talk probably once a month, you know, I’m just so happy he adapted to the position that we’re going in, because when I asked him to move, he was somewhat insulted, you know, thinking he was not good enough. And it turned out that he was just one of 50 people who I moved around, in most cases really liked what they did a couple of dunes and they would leave. But they found out their work. They real skill was in this area. And together, we found that out. It was just so amazing. To find that happen now.


Ari: You know, I do think about you a lot. And I know you’re going to find that you’re going to say Yeah, but you say that to everybody, but I don’t. And the reason I think about you a lot is I have a poster in my office and it says Peters laws


Peter: Oh, yeah. I’ve got that someone gave that. I know

you have it.


Ari: I know you have it because I remember seeing it in your office in the Trade Center. And I’m like, that is the greatest poster. I went out and I bought it. All right, had it framed and hung it in my office.


Peter: Did you change it put? Ari on top? No,


Ari: no, no, no, no. But when the towers went down, obviously, I lost the poster. And I was upset about that amongst the other paraphernalia that I had. And then one day, a few years later, I was just surfing the web. And all of a sudden, I saw the poster online. So I ordered it. Alright, had it framed, and I’ve had it ever since. And I keep it my office. And every time I look at it, I kind of smile because I think about you.


Peter: That’s funny. That’s really something. I like that and the voice. The girls who gave it to me, I have to remember now this is a female month, but I did have a lot of female traders, female assistants in on the desk. So we were early in knowing that females should be recognized her talent and paid the same way in a formula, you know, people got this much rebate on the business I did here. And that was a percentage. And it didn’t have whether you were male or female, white or black, the same formula. I’m looking down at some of my other things. One of the things we talked about when Anthony was deciding if he would do what I asked him to do what if he wanted to leave? I said, you know, there’s something that Buddha said, and I said I only wish I knew more about what Buddha said but I, you know, read some of his highlights. One of them is know the path that leads you forward. Know the path that holds you back, choose the one two wisdom. And I said the wisdom for you as a as well I think is you’ve got to have an open mind. You got to try to do something different. You got to try to stop doing what you’ve been doing for 25 years and try this and see if it works for you. And he did and he’s always been so happy. And it benefited him so much in his career. And I was always so proud of that, because he’s turned out to be one dear old friend of mine. Yeah.


Ari: So before we go, is there anything else you’d like to share with my audience? Like words of advice? People are struggling now, because of the pandemic, people have lost businesses? And I know it’s a tough thing for me to ask have you. But as you said, at your age, you’ve seen a lot, you know, a lot. You’re a very wise man, if you had to pick one thing, as words of advice, what would that be?


Peter: Well, I tell you, I just read something today, perhaps was yesterday about how a man, woman, family, you know, going through it and really, perhaps about to lose their home until they look next door and found that person’s house on fire. You know, and you say, Wow, things always can be worse. You can’t go back and change what’s happening now. But you certainly we’ve been stuck with right now just didn’t change the ending. You know, you really have to say how can I change the ending? And that’s by being positive, knowing that there’s going to be a second chance knowing that they’re now doing the vaccines knowing that perhaps we finally got a government that’s going to work more for us. There’s just so many things that are going on now, no matter how bad you feel. Try to pull up bootstraps and face it head on, and it’d be much much more proud of yourself. Obviously, they If you’re given a weakness, it’s hard to give advice when you’re sitting here it was at just last week, and I’m saying, Okay, three quarters of my life was over now, not even two thirds. But it’s you know, it’s over. But okay, because I look around, I look at my children and say, Thank God. I mean, what a very James, thank you for my three sons. Thank you for six grandsons. I mean, that six grandchildren, and beautiful partners, yeah, beautiful partners for our children. And we’ll just sell some really, really lucky one by one rule on violating now, again, is when you do go and get an opportunity to get advice. Remember that while you’re talking, this is again, a Dalai Lama. While you’re talking, you’re repeating what you already know. It’s while you’re listening, that we can learn and get wisdom. So


Ari: that is so so awesome. They say that you know why you have two ears and only one mouth? Because you should be listening twice as much as you’re talking. True. Absolutely. Peter, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I’m sure you’ve touched the hearts of many people in my audience. Good luck going forward. If somebody does want to get involved with you know, some of the charity work that you’re doing, what would be the best way for them to do that? Is there a website they can go to?


Peter: Yes, the one that’s really close to my heart, and the one that they say I found it touched me because we help people physically, you know, you can see them touching, hear them. And their gratitude was so warm. It’s called the Pacific house. And it’s on on Pacific Avenue in Stamford, Connecticut, you can find it on the web, they’re looking for donations, donations would go into buying food, but they also have alcohol classes there for people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. And then educational classes to get them off the streets. They get them a job opportunity. And they put them back together with family. Just a magnificent way they are trying to teach and help these people back into society.


Ari: Wow. All right. So it’s called the Pacific house in Connecticut. Right? Okay, great. Danford, Connecticut. Great. Okay, thanks again, Peter. You’ve been listening to whispers in bricks and I’m your host, Gary Chambord. Until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.