A few years ago a couple I sold a house to invited me to dinner at the Cafe Marquesa during Fantasy Fest. I decided to wear some old beads I had stored in a box. While I was looking in the box I found a wallet with school photos from 1957 through 1959. Included in the wallet was my identification card as an OFFICIAL MEMBER of the JUNIOR SALES CLUB OF AMERICA. And that card brought back a wave of memories and internal ruminations about how I got to Key West and where I am in my life. It started with SUPERMAN.
Most pre-teen boys are concerned about three things: candy, things to amuse themselves with, and not getting beat up. (At least those were the things that motivated me.) I lived in Denver from birth until I moved to Key West in 1993. In the mid 1950s I would ride the Continental Trailways bus from Denver to Sterling Colorado to spend a week with my three second cousins - all girls my age and younger. I would always take a comic book to read on the bus ride, and it would always be a SUPERMAN comic. I was 11 years old in 1958 when I took my yearly trip to Sterling. There was a page that lured me into becoming a 'salesman' for the Junior Sales Club of America. (A click of GOOGLE helped me find the ad that helped make me the 'salesman' I am today. See the ad below. CLICK HERE to see a larger view of the ad.
As soon as I returned from Sterling I cut out the coupon and mailed it to Springfield 1, Mass. A few weeks later I got my OFFICIAL MEMBER identification card and a sample box of 'all occasion' cards which I promptly hawked from door to door in my neighborhood. I earnestly plead to my neighbors the efficacy of buying a box of all occasion cards because you never know when someone would have a birthday, get married, have a baby, be ill, or sadly die. You just need a box of cards for all occasions. It worked. I pre-sold the required number of boxes. At $1.25 a box of cards was a 'deal' except back then $1.25 was more than a lot of people made for an hour's work. My mother sent the money to headquarters. A couple of weeks later headquarters shipped the cards to me and I promptly delivered the all occasion cards to my awaiting customers.
In the early fall of 1959 headquarters sent me a sample box of Christmas cards together with a list of prizes I could earn. The Kodak movie camera pictured at the top left hand corner of the above ad caught my eye. I sold the required number of boxes in no time. The prize was mine. I started shooting movies as soon as my 8 mm Kodak movie camera arrived. A year later I got a projector for Christmas so I could finally see the movies I shot. I decided I was going to be a cinema photographer and end up in Hollywood.
When I delivered the Christmas cards a neighbor lady up the next block told me that I had been knocking on her door ever since I was a little kid. She said I was always selling something. She said the first time I went to her house I was really small and had a wagon filled with canned goods out of my mother's kitchen. OMG! I guess the reader who said I am nothing but a 'salesman' was right!
There was another ad in the SUPERMAN comic which I also mailed. It was to Charles Atlas who was going to change me from a 75 pound wimp into a muscleman. I sent the coupon but never got the necessary information. I was destined to be a wimp for life. They must have known I lied about my age to get the info.
SUPERMAN has been the idol of boys who admire strength for generations. He was morally straight and fought the bad guys. And he always won. As I look back on it years later, SUPERMAN's strength and power was partially what motivated me to become an attorney. I grew up in a the western suburbs of Denver just after World War II. Our schools were always top rated in the State of Colorado. Plus America was on the move upward in the 1950s. At least where I lived everybody was moving up in life.
In my early teen years I really did envision going to California to become a cinema photographer. I wanted to attend the Brooks Institute of Photography in San Diego. But things changed as I watched events unfold during the years of the Kennedy administration. There was a lot of racial unrest and political strife. A lot of people hated Kennedy. I remember hearing anti-Catholic rants; Anti-Irish rants; Anti-Joseph Kennedy wealth insults; Anti-civil rights comments such as 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' or 'who do you trust less a Mexican or a n***er'. Most of the negativity stopped after President Kennedy was assassinated. I felt a tremendous sense loss after he died. I decided to drop the idea of being a cinema photographer and announced that I would become a lawyer instead. I figured I could be a lawyer which would give me entree into politics. Hopefully one day I would get elected to public office where I could change things.
In 1964 I was seventeen years old and got involved in the campaign of three Democrats who were running for the position of county judge in Jefferson County Colorado. The county seat is Golden, Colorado - the place where Coors Beer is brewed. Frank Jamison and Dan Shannon got elected to the bench. The other candidate lost to the Republican candidate. Judge Jamison took me under his wing and provided the role model I needed after my dad died the week before I graduated from high school. I put myself through college and law school. Judge Jamison helped me get summer jobs during college. I eventually clerked for him while I attended law school. As a lawyer and as a man, I looked to him for advice and counsel when it sometimes seemed the world was not a nice place. And he was there. Always. It was Judge Frank Jamison that became my mentor, my SUPERMAN.
I was an attorney in a five man suburban Denver law firm. Later I did commercial loan workouts for two Denver banks. I worked in the Resolution Trust Corporation from 1990 until December 1993. I worked on multi-million dollar assets some of which were extremely complex in nature. I found being a lawyer very stressful. Working for the banks had a different stress level because of the way banks function. I had more personal satisfaction working at the RTC than I did in law or banking. I only quit that job to move to Key West after I purchased a guest house here.
Selling real estate in Key West is not a part time job. The people who make good money do their job every day. They are listing new properties, showing properties, attending home inspections, handling customer issues, and maybe even writing blogs. Helping people achieve their dreams is very rewarding.
The little kid who mailed the coupons in the SUPERMAN comic (one to sell cards and the other to get muscles to avoid getting beat-up) became the man who would become a lawyer to help others not get beat-up in the court room and the guy at the bank (and later the government) who had the job of recovering money from people or businesses that would not pay it back. The little kid is still inside the old guy writing this blog. My mission now is not to get the bad guys: it is to get the good buys.
And that, Dear Reader, is how SUPERMAN got me to Key West where I became a SALESMAN.