Thursday, May 21, 2015

Out Of Print

My father wasn't in the ad game in the sixties. He sold printing. I spent my early years imagining that he was some kind of executive paper boy, wandering from office to office with newspapers he carried in a briefcase and made deals with his subscribers to buy even more newspapers. This was because I had seen a black and white photo of my father in his youth, carrying his big canvas sack with "Daily Camera" printed across the front, and I assumed from the way he lovingly discussed his ascent into the printing business that he had worked his way into a better dressed, upscale version of the job he had when he was a teenager.
It wasn't that simple, but then again, maybe it was. He used to look wistfully off into the distance and talk about the ink that ran in his veins, having moved from his first paper route on what was then the outskirts of Boulder to the press room of the local paper and eventually to the offices of a publishing company where he would regularly return to the press room and kick it around with the boys in the back. It was from these press rooms that my father dragged home reams and reams of paper, some of it in sample pads, other times he would bring home end rolls that were far too short to be used for a full press run but unimaginably long for any kid who wanted to roll it out in the living room. I drew on all of it. All that I could, that is. All that blank paper was an invitation, not unlike the blank pages that eventually lured me to writing on them. It was my avocation to fill them all.
Meanwhile, back at the office, my father's career had a nice, hometown Don Draper feeling. There were business lunches and cocktail parties. There really was a briefcase, and most mornings that I can recall, he put on a suit and tie to go out into the world to sell printing. More to the point, he went out into the world to sell the printing services of the publishing company for which he worked to those who might need them. This is how I learned about Celestial Seasonings. My father worked with this hippie kid, Mo Siegel, to print up boxes and advertising posters for his herbal tea company. This was about the time that Don Draper's story came to a rest, but the seventies were a very heady time for my father's printing business. If it were left to me, I believe I would set the fictionalized TV version of my publishing company drama in the 1970's. That's when he moved on up to the Ford Granada for the company car, Fine Corinthian vinyl.
And eventually, there was an office affair, one that sent my father spiraling off into career trouble as well as divorce. When my father went to meet his maker, he was still working on his third act. He was trying to find his way back home. That never happened, but he left behind a lot of memories. And reams and reams of paper filled with the drawings of my youth. It was an interesting ride. Maybe not Don Draper interesting, but pretty good for a paperboy from Boulder, Colorado.

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