I’m a Florida boy. Didn’t see snow till I was a junior in college at Michigan State University. I graduated in 1957 (Dick Nixon gave the commencement address) and came to New York and Allied Stores hired me as an executive sales Promotion trainee—for $3400 a year—I took home $200 a month after taxes.
Yes, I remember those days. They didn’t hurt. A few years later, married by then, we had our first child—in Syracuse. I was up to $6,000 a year as a copywriter. When my second daughter came along 19 months later, I was working in NYC for a small ad agency for $9,000 a year. Overnight (it seems) I was a creative copy supervisor in a giant agency, and we were richer than Croesus—I was earning $30,000 a year. We lived in Larchmont, NY, as pretty and nice a town as you can find for raising children. Then one day, because I always knew there were other trees to climb, I accepted a big job as Creative Director of the largest advertising office in South America—J. Walter Thompson’s Buenos Aires, Argentina office. They moved the four of us plus all our furnishings of a nine room house.
It was exciting. The girls were 11 and 9, and we were there for some politically circus-worthy years—Peron, who had raped Argentina in earlier years with his killer wife, Evita at his side, returned to Argentina, and the Argentines did the impossible—re-elected Juan Peron as President, and he named his new wife, Isabellita, as Vice-President. Then Juan died, and She, yes, that one, became La Presidente! What else happened those years? Oh yes, Nixon resigned, whenever I was in NYC on business all people could talk about was Watergate, but all that mattered to me were The Peronistas in Argentina; the Junta in Chile; and the Tupamaros in Uruguay. I learned back then you can’t live on two continents. And besides, I had Ford, Pan Am, Kodak and Lever Brothers, depending on my creative leadership, plus a staff of 40 Creativos. My secretary was a young Communist. He didn't speak one word of English. Working overseas puts a lot of demands on you.
I returned to NYC during another recession and was hired by the super-creative agency of the time—Scali McCabe Sloves, and not too long after that became the Creative Director of Tinker, the agency where Mary Wells made her mark. Amazing to me, I was into a six figure salary. Mind you, as exciting and meaningful as the advertising years were, I believe the next thirty years made me a better writer, because I became an unofficial psychiatrist & sociologist, someone who lived in other people’s minds and dreams. Who was I? What was I? The Owner & Innkeeper of a multi-star beautiful country inn/conference center. It was and still is, called Troutbeck, in Amenia, NY. Besides guiding a large staff, I planned weddings and helped guests realize their private dream. Happy to say the new owners have enhanced its many charms.
This abbreviated history has gone on too long, but I’ve enjoyed all the memories it has brought to light. My Goodness, I hate to stop writing fluent memories, but it’s snowing outside my window, and Harry, one of my rescued dogs, is looking at me wistfully, wishing me toward bed. So, good night, friends.
But you know me well enough now to call me Jim, or email@example.com