Not all ad men are “Mad Men”.

03-25-15

Though I cancelled my cable and haven’t parked myself before a TV for many years, occasionally I hear sound bites or follow the online chatter about the AMC cable show “Mad Men”.

I worked in an ad agency for 18 months after graduating from Wayne State University in June of 1978. The show “Mad Men” would have you believe that all ad men are ruthless and self-serving like Don Draper.

Having been immersed in the world of advertising for that year and a half, that’s not really a true statement … not for all ad men anyway. A couple of special ones stand out in my mind, but one in particular who held, and will always hold, a special place in my heart. He was a mentor to me and a friend as well.

Back in ’78, as a sentimental, stars-in-my-eyes recent college grad, I soon found that writers and art directors, even producers, were rather a transient bunch. While they seemed content on the outside, inwardly they were still seeking the ultimate arena in which to use and exhibit their creativity. They were wont to update their résumés and pack up their typewriters or easels and markers and take off in a heartbeat. I can’t tell you how many going-away luncheons I attended during the 18 months at Young & Rubicam as our 40-person department dwindled.

I wrote this post this morning as the rain incessantly pounded the windows and the wind blew gustily. A walk was out of the question for me. That’s okay because I had a story to tell anyway.

A blogging buddy in my Patch.com group recently wrote a poem and accompanying post on the topic of friendship. I read it, then commented about keeping in touch and renewing old friendships, even after decades had passed. Since joining Facebook back in 2009, I’ve reconnected with several high school friends after many of them were scattered to the four winds.

That impromptu online chatter with Jeanne Claire Probst got me thinking about the plethora of people that I’d lost touch with through the years. I jotted down a few of their names and told myself that when I got a chance, I would indeed see if these folks were on Facebook or Twitter, just to see what they were up to and possibly renew old ties.

Social media was not around for some of these old schoolmates, coworkers or travelling companions, and the letters and cards dwindled during the years, so I’d lost track of many people. So, it seemed like a good idea to reconnect with the past and let the decades just fall away in doing so.

However, treading onto the far reaches of the internet to make those connections ended up being a rather painful foray when I discovered that a beloved boss passed away on March 10th, a mere two weeks ago.

His name was Gerald M. Apoian, but he was just plain old Jerry to all who knew him.

He was the first person I considered my “boss” after I graduated from college and ventured out into the real world beyond the diner, where I worked while attending college. Hoping to rise through the ranks to a junior copywriter position someday, I joined the advertising agency Young & Rubicam in the Summer of 1978 as a secretary.

Technically, Jerry was not my only boss since I worked for a team of copywriters and art directors.

But he was my favorite of the bunch.

He and I had both graduated with degrees in Mass Communications.  His was from Michigan State.

Only he had landed a job in that chosen field and I did not. But, it was not for lack of trying. There weren’t even opportunities after my WSU internship. I worked for a wire service writing “shorts” or little blurbs about Detroit for six weeks, which was required to graduate. Though I scoured the newspapers for a job, even as a stringer at $0.25 a line, I heard the same thing over and over: “the market is flooded with reporters due to the Watergate scandal – you’ll have to use your degree elsewhere” … sigh.

If I close my eyes, I can see Jerry in my mind just like it was yesterday, though it has been 35 long years. I see him hunkered in the corner of his office, hunched over the typewriter, his thoughts conveyed through those long, nimble fingers as he typed fast and furiously, the bell signifying the push to the carriage return was in order.

Jerry’s typewriter, a rickety old black Royal, was tucked in the far corner of his small office, right next to the window. He’d be banging away on that typewriter, with a cadence and speed that would just as easily match mine as I sat at my desk outside his office, my own fingers flying over the keyboard of my bright blue IBM Selectric typewriter.

Occasionally, I’d hear him ripping out a sheet of yellow foolscap paper from that Royal typewriter when a thought was aborted and soon that piece of paper was crumbled into a ball and tossed into the circular file, or sometimes littering the floor with others. Then he’d open the drawer for another sheet of paper which he’d quickly roll into the platen before the next thought escaped his mind; in seconds he’d be typing along at breakneck speed once again.

Soon, he’d run out of his office clutching his draft, eager to have me retype it on official bond Y&R script paper, to be presented to the creative group, and eventually the client.

He was a character and full of life and fun.

He had a wacky laugh, a long and loud howl that would erupt from that mustachioed mouth whenever he thought something was really funny. His laugh was infectious and could bring a smile to your face.

He had a shock of wavy auburn hair that he slicked back, but that was prone to frizzing out when it rained.

And then, there were those unusual-looking eyebrows that looked like two bristley caterpillars, half-hidden behind his horn-rimmed glasses.

He was a big guy, with admitted love handles that hung over the waist of his blue jeans, but were camouflaged by the beige safari-type shirts that he liked to wear.

His buddies called him “Large” but I called him “Grade A” to his face and laughingly suggested others use that moniker as well. I do believe I made him blush sometimes.

He didn’t just write the commercial scripts but went on scene with his sidekick, his art director, Larry Carroll. They would fly to California to oversee the shoots with the likes of Hal Linden touting the Newport, and who could forget Ricardo Montalban and his smooth voice as he caressed that Chrysler Cordoba’s Corinthian leather? It was Jerry who wrote the scripts for those commercials that were so well known in the late 70s. When the shoots were finished Jerry used to fly to New York to finalize and produce the commercials as well.

But things were not so rosy when Y&R lost the Chrysler account in 1979. It was a black day indeed as we were one of three advertising agencies that serviced Chrysler-Plymouth; one day President Lee Iacocca decided he wanted new blood creating ads for his products and he fired all three agencies.

We were several months without a major account before landing the plum Lincoln-Mercury business. But, as mentioned earlier, advertising folks are prone to bouncing around from one agency to the next, and the ranks of the Creative Department soon dwindled. Jerry stayed, but Larry strayed to another agency. Then Jerry was paired with a new art director named Dan Hughes. He was nice enough but the magic of the new duo’s relationship was not the same.

And other things were not the same. The new client wanted control of all the shoots and post-production taking most of the creative control away from Jerry.

There was a large lack of morale in the Creative Department and around the ad agency in general.

Before the loss of Chrysler, there were often long lunches with our whole department at “The Pontchartrain Wine Cellars” and ice cream Hummers at “The Chop House” to celebrate a completed ad or just for the heck of it.

There were impromptu guitar sessions where the creative honchos sat around collaborating on scripts and storyboards and playing their folk guitars … their version of “Classical Gas” was one of my favorites.

But, when there was work to be done we all hunkered down and did it.

To boost morale, Y&R formed a baseball team and we had that to occupy our minds and fill the voids for our friends who had left. Jerry told me to volunteer to be the editor of the new company newspaper. He worked tirelessly with me, shooting pictures, laying out the first issue and even going to the printer with me. He was somehow determined he should be my mentor and help me along up the corporate ladder to aspire to advance beyond the typist position that I currently had.

Then one day Jerry asked me to come into his office and announced he was going to J. Walter Thompson. Before I could interject “can I come too?” he said “no, I’m sorry, but I can’t take you along” … I was heartbroken and refused to go to Jerry’s going away party, knowing it would be too painful for me.

As friendships or relationship go, especially in the workplace – well you win some and you lose some. Sure we kept in touch for awhile. We talked a few times on the phone to catch up about business after he left, but this was long before social media keeps the world in touch at your fingertips or just a mouse click away. E-mail and cellphones were all non-existent back in 1979 – to ordinary people anyway.

After a year or two, even Jerry’s creative Christmas card which in the past featured his writing and Larry’s photos, failed to show up in my mailbox anymore. So much for Jerry’s description of a Summer sky as “marshmallow pies and blueberry skies” or Larry’s exquisite photos. Jerry moved to New York and I’m sure Linda Schaub became the furthest thing from his mind.

I’ve thought about contacting him through the years just to touch base and say “hey”, especially since having the World Wide Web at my disposal. Jerry got semi-famous and was “Google-able” with an e-mail address, but I resisted reaching out, thinking perhaps he would be disappointed that his mentoring had stopped dead in its tracks and I’d not pursued a writing career. I left Y&R a few months later and began a career in the legal field in February 1980.

So, I never tried to contact Jerry, but I thought about him through the years from time to time.

I know he went on to bigger and better things; he directed films – won some awards at Cannes Film Festival and worked tirelessly with a company named Advertising Production Resources, or APR, his last job. I read all these achievements last night.

The funny thing is, I was concerned that he would be disappointed in me and gave that more consideration than my parents who paid for my whole college education. Perhaps that is because my father often told me “I could have bought your mother a mink coat and myself a Cadillac or a T-bird with the money I spent on your college education” and every time my father said that, it hurt, but in the end I shrugged it off.

But, yet I didn’t want to disappoint Jerry.

Funny how your priorities get all screwed up like that sometimes.

So, last night I noodled around Facebook and Twitter looking to find Jerry and Larry and to catch up with them, if they were so inclined.

Jerry was not on Facebook, but on Twitter as my search revealed a memorial fund in his memory. A memorial fund?! I opened the link, and my eyes misted up and I am sure I must have said “oh my God – oh no” over and over while my brain processed that information.

I exited out of the article, as if that would make the story untrue.

Then I went back and re-Googled and re-read the story a few more times and an obituary notice as well. Yes, it gave his birthdate which I knew, and the picture above. Yes, it was so.

On Facebook the APR, which he was associated with, said his death was unexpected and left his colleagues reeling in disbelief.

I was in shock as well, decades after I’d wished him goodbye and good luck and he said “there is no good in goodbye” … well, 35 years later it is even more painful.

So, of course I wonder now why the h*ll I didn’t reach out and say “hi” before this?

Maybe I could have sent him the link to my blog and said “will this pass muster; will this do because it’s probably not what you hoped for, but it is me and my life and my meanderings?”

He might have laughed heartily at that question and said “you did okay kiddo – you’ll be fine” just like he told me so many times before.

(Image of Jerry Apoian from Snipview.com)

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
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24 Responses to Not all ad men are “Mad Men”.

  1. Marge Aubin says:

    Aw Linda, this brought a tear and a smile. Why do we wait? These days we can use the web and find friends from long ago. If we ask them to return a message and they don’t, who, out side of you and that person, knew. I had a gentleman at Detroit Edison that I just loved. He was so nice and helpful to a newbie. John would always say “Goodnight see you in the morning if God be willing. After working at Detroit Edison for 3 years one morning I realized God was not willing to have John come back to work. John had a major heart attack. I really loved that man.

    Like

  2. cswilson66 says:

    Beautifully written. I know Jerry would have been pleased. Who ever knows why our how we affect those around us. You gave me a reminder of how important it is to say these things while we still can. Through your blog this tired, depressed old Gramma is often reminded of the simple good in life. Thank you.

    Like

  3. susieshy45 says:

    Linda,
    You wrote this post for him and he has read it, fear not about that.
    I am sure the people who pass before us are around us and with us and especially when we need them to be.
    I love your writing. You wanted to be a writer but your career was as a lawyer-wow!
    And now you have the freedom to write and self-publish too.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thank you for saying that Susie, but you give me too much credit as I am a legal secretary – I do not say “just” a legal secretary, because I don’t like anyone to preface a description of themself as “just” – thank you for following me and I will be back to read some of your posts and follow you as well later today. My boss has been on vacation since last Wednesday and was back in the office last night to generate some work for me. For now I need to check in at work and be off … they called for rain and looks like it won’t rain, but I’ll try to get some miles in this a.m. I like to think Jerry knew somehow and I wish so much I had contacted him … I kept thinking he would not remember me, though I don’t think he was that kind of person to just forget others along the way. Take care Susie.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. susieshy45 says:

    Linda,
    I know exactly what you mean- sometimes I see people I have worked with or known in the past- even been in college when I studied there but I hesitate to go introduce myself and renew friendships- often for fear that they might not remember me.
    Once it happened that way too- there was a girl who was very friendly with me in school, called —, and then one day I found out that her sister was getting married into our family. During the wedding, I commanded whatever courage I had and told her I was so and so( using my maiden name) and she said, no, I don’t remember you. I was so surprised and not than a little hurt. Ever since I have been very wary of trying to renew old relationships.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I know what you mean Susie – some people are not mindful of other people’s feelings, and I know I am sensitive to people’s words as well. Things like what happened to you have happened to me as well, and it causes me to just withdraw from the conversation, thinking if they were that callous to say that, then I don’t really want to participate in the conversation either.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is an amazing story Linda! Those friendships we forge in our careers are never forgotten. And I don’t think Jerry would be disappointed, as your blog is one of the best and the most creative I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I am glad you liked it Joan … I was so upset to find out and realized I missed reaching out by such a short period of time. Thank you for saying that about my blog – I have tried to make it creative and I think it has evolved since I began five years ago … it is amazing that there is always something to write about at the Park. I will write a few Christmas memories as Christmas nears.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have never watched an episode of MadMen but your job reminds me of MaryTylerMoore’s TV show – it is our colleagues that make it memorable. I think you would have been great in advertising, as your blog is very creative….you are walking every day but every post is different. You must never run out of ideas! Christmas memories would be good too…..I have two blogs planned for Dec but both involve quite a bit of research so might just end up reposting old ones.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I’ve never watched that show either but I used to listen to a talk show every weekend in the mornings and he used to play these sound bites of MadMen all the time and discuss the show and I used to compare it to when I worked there which would have been a few years later – that show took place in the 1960s and I was there in the late 1970s. I loved the Mary Tyler Moore Show and never missed it – those were the days of good TV (in my opinion and I shouldn’t say that because I haven’t had TV for almost a decade). You won’t believe this but I wrote a blog post about Mary Tyler Moore when she passed away too. I kept picturing myself as a young woman watching the show and hoping for a career like “Mare’s” (I hope I am spelling “Mare” correctly – didn’t they call her “Mare” for “Mary”?) That’s funny that every time you say something I can come up with something.
        https://lindaschaubblog.net/2017/01/25/snippets-of-sunshine-sound-bites-and-remembering-that-smile/

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      • I tend to be psychic! Wrote a comment on your MTM post – sums her up perfectly. I never watched MadMen but I heard the fashions were nice and stylish at that time. I don’t think I got that station when it was on – I only get basic cable (30 stations) and even that is $50 per month, which is outrageous considering how little I watch – the local evening news, and some shows on Detroit Public TV – PBS – like Downton Abbey, (I still watch the reruns), Doc Marten and Poldark – both British Masterpiece. So it’s basically a waste of money….my mothers cable package is over $100 a month and she gets tons of stations but still not much worth watching on. I bought a 55 inch Smart TV 3 years ago when my 20yr old one died, but didn’t know how to hook it up to get Netflex on the computer and my computer was too old then anyway…I’ve since upgraded. I guess I prefer to read in the evenings. We still have a video store here in town so I rent the odd DVD and even then there is not much worth seeing. The last good movie I saw was Hidden Figures about the women in the NASA program in the 1960’s. The rest of the movies seem to be sci-fiction, Marvel type things that all seem the same.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That is funny! I think you are psychic so I had to pass the MTM story along. I have never seen a sci-fiction movie and a co-worker marveled that I had never seen the movie “ET” and brought it in for me to watch. I have a faster speed of Comcast internet, which is not as fast as gaming speed, but I got the higher speed to remote into work easier. I did this thinking it was my problem and it was our system – it crashed not too long afterward. I had cancelled cable but got a basic cable package for free for getting the faster speed and I never turned it on – I get my news from the radio which I have on during the day or online. I finally told them they could cancel the package as they called once a week to ask if I wanted more channels and phone too. I stick with AT&T for my phone as Comcast has issues with internet and e-mail sometimes as well. My Comcast is $90.00 a month and I think that is way too high. Here you have to have basic cable to even get regular TV. When my mom was confined to bed, I rigged up an old VCR that would not record to a small TV monitor I bought and we watched some movies we had recorded years before and not watched or rented some from Blockbuster. Blockbuster is now out of business as everyone streams or uses Netflix … I would not know how to even get Netflix. A fellow blogger wrote a book review and I said it sounded good and it had been years since I read a book, and likely won’t get to read now due to the blogging and walking, until I am retired. I said I was an avid reader when I worked on site and took the bus for decades. She suggested getting a Kindle with audio and it plays the books and can listen while doing housework, food prep, etc. I told her I didn’t know Kindle had audio features and wouldn’t know how to use a Kindle but would be interested in that … maybe down the road, not at the holiday season. I don’t have to go to the stores for shopping so I try to stay away from them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I am the only person in the world who never liked ET – I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Reading is a big part of my retirement life but actual books only, usually from the library. I have never tried an e-reader….maybe if I traveled it would be handy…… I didn’t know Kindle had audio either…..when I tried to listen to audio books while driving I found it too distracting and couldn’t concentrate on either task. All these devices are great ideas if you have a computer nerd who can set them up and help you out when necessary.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I didn’t get the fuss over it either Joan – I am not a sci-fi lover though and I’m likely the only one who has never seen the “Star Wars” movies or “Star Trek” or anything like that. I’ve never seen any of the Harry Potter movies, nor read those books, and I don’t have cable TV but I don’t think I’d care for “Game of Thrones” either. I always figured I was the only oddball who never saw these movies and was not hepped up to see them either. My mom and I liked the same books so we would go to bookstores and buy a lot of the paperback books of our favorite authors and get the newer releases by authors that we liked like Danielle Steel or Mary Higgins Clark (those two come to mind) from the library. As to library books, we’d go on the waiting list for new releases. My mom was ahead of me on the reading so there are many pocketbooks downstairs in Rubbermaid tubs plus upstairs in a cupboard, downstairs are ones she read, upstairs ones she didn’t get to yet. I haven’t read any of them! I probably have many years of those books to get through first, once I’m retired and have more time. You make a valid point about the audio books … I could see how it would be distracting to drive and if traffic was bad, you’d not want to be caught up in an interesting part of the book. For housework it would be okay or food prep, but then you get to a good part and have to go – I do some stuff in the morning before I go out walking (or used to before the blogging took off).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have never seen or read any Star Wars, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones either. I love M.H.Clark and am amazed she is still churning them out at her age. One of the things I love about retirement is having the time to read but I don’t overdo it – about a book every 5-7days. I have some friends who read 3 or 4 books a week but they must not do anything else. You could listen to audio books when you walk but that would defeat the purpose of communing with nature, although I will sometimes listen to music on my IPod on the rare occasions I walk – I really need to start again. I used to walk around my neighbourhood about 3 or 4 times a week but got lazy about a year ago. When did your blog start to take off? Was it as steady increase or all at once?

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        My mom liked mysteries and she liked the Sue Grafton series – in fact she just passed away within the last year and I can’t remember if the family was going to publish her final book which was the letter “Z” … she did all the alphabet murder series – have you read them Joan? I see fellow bloggers who read that many books (3-4) per week and don’t know how they do it with working, as they work full time, and one blogger from my Patch group is an attorney, plus part-time judge, writes her own blog, does ghost-writing, has published 2-3 books and still has time to read and publish her reviews on Good Reads. I don’t take any music with me – I don’t have an iPod, but have a Sony Walkman (just dated myself there) and I used that on the bike. I would not have music in my ears because of liking to enjoy nature as you said but also not safe – people drive like crazy … checking texts, talking on the phone, not paying attention … I have to watch people pulling out of their driveways all the time as people are always in a hurry! Today I will make my goal and then some … I thought about making a new goal of 1,100 before year end as we now are told we have a week of good weather and my boss is on vacation from 12/20 to 12/28 and with the holidays coming up – extra time to walk a little extra … I will have to be at work and monitoring e-mail/voicemail and probably will be left work for the business days, but if the weather cooperates I could shoot for that – not sure whether to “put it out there” about a new goal or not … all miles I walk now and the final total I get, I will surpass by at least one mile next year. I started the blog in February 2013 and I had the same few people – I think it was 18 and only two commented (Marge and Ann Marie) then lost Marge and the others are subscribers and they rarely if ever commented (I’m talking 10 comments in 4 + years). Then one person followed me last November and I followed back and suddenly people came out of the woodwork. I was following back everyone in the beginning and I soon realized I could not do that. I think the blogging is taking up much more time than I could have imagined and I don’t know how people with hundreds and hundreds of followers do it quite frankly.
        By February, just three months later, I was at 50 followers I believe then it increased steadily. In my other computer I kept track of how many when I got notices from WordPress. I was incredulous after years of writing and only two people commented … my blog is carried in the local newspaper and its affiliate as well as on Patch.com which is a hyperlocal newspaper and no people commented from there either, just the people who are on WordPress.

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  6. PS. I forgot to say I have had three colleagues die from my hospital job, and it is upsetting, when I worked with them for fifteen years you become like family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes you’re right Joan. The law firm that my boss and I left when we went on our own in 2003, part of the reason for them merging with another firm was one of the senior partners (third one down) committed suicide and he was a corporate attorney and the clients he serviced did not like the only other senior corporate attorney because he was a prima donna (and also the named partner of the firm) and pulled out their business. This attorney was just in his early 50s and depressed over the breakup of his marriage. He took his kids on vacation for their Easter break then came home and committed suicide. His secretary had worked for him since he was a young associate and was beside herself. She did not come to work for months afterward.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely post, Linda! This both made me smile and choke up. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Kathy. I don’t know if life in the Creative Department of an ad agency is still the same, but back then it was male dominated – we had only two females: one art director and one copywriter. Those guys played hard and goofed off, the three-hour lunches with reps from photo reproduction houses (probably out of business now due to the digital age), but when they had to get work done, they hunkered down and did it. Lee Iacocca was a brilliant man but a slave driver as well – there was no pleasing him, long before the day we lost the account.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: It takes a village … | WALKIN', WRITIN', WIT & WHIMSY

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