Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Tale of a Tee-Shirt

Shown above is a tee-shirt that now resides in the Anthropology Division of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History, an item of clothing that I donated several months ago.  Why should such a mundane artifact deserve preservation one of America’s premier museums?  Therein lies a tale.

In March 1989 as a consultant I was selected by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in coordination with AFL-CIO officials, to lead a team to evaluate USAID-funded, union-run programs aimed at assisting black labor organizations in South Africa.  My being selected was related to similar prior evaluations and my history as a member of a labor union.

The assignment proved to be a memorable one.  While the policies of the George H. W. Bush Administration were not antagonistic to South Africa, still in the grip of “Apartheid” policies that denied blacks virtually any rights, pressures to do something for that population had led to funding a modest AFL-CIO program.

Agents of the South African government followed me and my evaluation team everywhere.  Under cover of night we were forced to meet union leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa, show here, then the head of the black mine workers union (NUM) and now president of South Africa.

Despite the surveillance, the team’s evaluation went well and about a year later, I led a team on a follow-up assignment.  During the ensuing period things had changed. F. W. de Klerk, shown here, now was president.  He was moving to remove discriminatory laws and had indicated that Nelson Mandela would be released from prison.  My team was not followed.  Somewhat dissatisfied with the AFL-CIO program, USAID employees had begun their own labor initiatives.

One of their efforts involved a garment factory in Durban. Although the project was beyond my mandate, the Mission Director asked me to go to Durban to assess the situation.  Purchased from a private individual and now owned by USAID, the factory had been given to the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) to operate.  That union only recently had been formed from two completing unions.  SACTWU was multi-racial and predominantly made up of women.

The idea of USAID owning a South African clothing factory was intriguing and I soon hied off from Pretoria to Durban, shown here.  At the airport I was picked up by SACTWU representatives and taken to the site — the Zenzeleni Clothing (Pty) Ltd.  Inside, dozens of workers, mostly female, were busy in all stages of making items of clothing but chiefly tee-shirts, some with militant messages.  As part of the formalities of the afternoon, I was presented with the shirt shown at the top of this post.  The raised fists so prominent in the design were a note of militancy against the government and its restrictive laws against black unions.

While it was evident that the factory was clean, well-lighted and appeared to be operating efficiently,  the thought was unsettling that a U.S. government agency owned it and had given its use to an organization strongly opposed to the existing government.  While I agreed with the sentiments on the SACTWU tee-shirt, my recommendation to the Mission was to divest itself of the factory as rapidly as possible, potentially by arranging to give it outright to SACTWU.  Eventually that occurred.  A Zenezeleni clothing outfit still exists in Durban.  I have no idea of its relation to the factory I visited.

Upon my return to the U.S., I stopped in London to discuss the South African situation with officials of the British Trade Union Congress (TUC ).  In the midst of our discussion, a staff member burst into the room to announced that Nelson Mandela had been released from his Robin Island prison.  A new era was about to begin in South Africa.

In subsequent years, I wore the SACTWU tee-shirt to Labor Day picnics.  In recent times, however, it languished in my closet until it occurred to me that the tee-shirt deserved to be preserved as a historical artifact.  After some calls and emails, I was put in touch with Dr. Mary Jo Arnoldi, a specialist of African anthropology at the Natural History Museum.  After consideration of my gift by Smithsonian curators, it was — to my great glee — accepted for accession and available for posterity.  That is the tale of the tee-shirt.

Afterword:  In 1995 I returned on business to South Africa. By that time union leaders with whom I had met surreptitiously were cabinet members.  They included Jay Naidoo, shown here, who had headed the black union federation, COSATU.  Now he was Secretary of Labor in the Mandela government and about to issue a new labor law, one replacing the Apartheid period laws.  I was humbled by his making me an “honored guest” at the ceremony attending the new law.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Wrapping Up Hearse Ambulances

Foreword:  This is the fourth and likely final post devoted to funeral home ambulances that have been preserved on glass paperweights and celluloid pocket mirrors.   Funeral homes seemed to gravitate to these advertising items and almost always emphasized their ambulance services, despite the fact that in many instances the vehicle doubled as a hearse.   While today such dual-use conveyances are banned by law, in many U.S. localities, particularly rural areas, the local undertaker also provides ambulance services.  Below are nlne paperweights that help tell the story.

The first weight shown here features the oldest ambulance of the group.  It is a horse-drawn conveyance from Hindle & Bayles, undertakers located at Fifth and H Streets in Washington, D.C.   The proprietors were Thomas A. Hindle and William A. Bayliss.   Hindle with wife Agnes apparently had his residence at the funeral home.  Bayliss, an immigrant from Nova Scotia, lived close by with his family.

Although the Mitchell-Fleming Funeral Home no longer exists in Tulsa or its branches in two other Oklahoma cities, the mortician’s records have proven of great interest to historians looking into the Tulsa race riot of May-June 1921. Those tragic events left at least 39 dead, 35 blocks of a middle-class black neighborhood burned out, and an estimated 10,000 people homeless.  During that period it appears that the Mitchell-Fleming ambulance operated mainly as a hearse, taking the dead for burial — at least twenty of the black victims to the city’s Oaklawn Cemetery.

The Geo. W. Scott undertakers at 2950 W. Madison Street in Chicago provided a “perfect ambulance service” using a Dodge motor vehicle that quite clearly could double as a hearse.  Note the outside ornamentation and the fancy windows.  Although I have been able to find out little about this establishment, someone saw it as significant and recently paid $137.50 at auction to own this pocket mirror.

Ford’s Funeral Home in Gastonia, North Carolina, was true to its name.  Those appear to be three Ford motor cars lined up in front of the pillared mansion that apparently is the funeral home, some of the vehicles on call for ambulance duty.  In its newspaper advertising, Ford’s, located at 137 South York Street, claimed the title “Leading Morticians” and took telephone calls both day and night.

In a departure from the usual, Greenhoe-Hatch ambulance service put photos of the proprietors on their paperweight.  They had pooled their talents, Barney W. Greenhoe earlier having operated Greenhoe’s Chapel and Fred F. Hatch employed at the Colonial Funeral Home.  They advertised vigorously in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, business directory as “funeral directors and licensed embalmers…service our motto.”  They could provide a private ambulance with a “lady attendant” or rent customers a limousine.

Geo. H. Long gives few clues to the city and state in which he plied his “motor ambulance.”  A bit of research reveals that Long was doing business in Kansas City, Missouri, located at 10th Street and Barnett Avenue.  He was one of 35 undertaking establishments listed in a Independence business directory, indicating that competition was brisk.  A large display ad in a 1924 business directory featured photos of both George and his wife, announcing “Kansas City’s Original Independent Undertaker…Assisted by MRS. LONG.”

Some funeral homes advertised their ambulance services without having to display the actual vehicle.  So was it with the paperweight issued by the  Beardsley Funeral Home.  Edith and Sam Beardsley were an early “power couple” in Chariton, Iowa, said to be innovators at a time when undertaking was shifting from a furniture store sideline to full-time profession.  Like the Longs of Kansas City both Beardsleys were involved in the business so that when Sam unexpectedly dropped dead, Edith continued to operate the funeral home on her own for nearly 20 more years.

The next paperweight uses an illustration of the Frank A. Buley Funeral Home while advertising its ambulance service.  Unfortunately I cannot read the smaller type on the items and have not been able to locate the establishment, one that appears to have been sited in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The final paperweight depicts neither motor vehicle nor mortuary, but is strong for the ambulance service it provided in Wichita, Nebraska.  This one combines a weight with a mirror on the bottom.  Turning it over and looking into it reveals “a friend of ours.”  Wichita Undertaking Parlors were the scene of a dispute in January, 1921, about whether a prominent Wichita businessman, Joseph Nichols, had shot himself in a suicide as he lay pinned under his own automobile.  The coroner said yes. As he lay at the parlor for the viewing, Nichols’ family and friends contended vehemently that he was trying to fire in the air to call for help but accidentally had shot himself.

There they are — nine more artifacts of a time when a hearse could double as an ambulance, and vice versa.  This makes a total of thirty such paperweights and five pocket mirrors presented on this blog — a collection in its own right.

Note: My first article on this subject, “Where to Buddy?  Hospital or Graveyard?” was posted during July 2009. It presented six paperweights and two pocket mirrors.  A second, called  “Chasing the Ambulance:  But Wait…Is It a Hearse?” followed in May 2013.  That one displayed ten weights.   A third entitled “Funeral Home Ambulances:  A Conflict of Interest?” was illustrated with five paperweights, two pocket mirrors and three other advertising items. It appeared in November 2016.  

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Uncle Sam — The Distillers’ Man


Foreword:  This is the third in a series of posts demonstrating how American whiskey distillers, rectlifiers (blenders), and wholesalers used the image of Uncle Sam prior to 1920 as the Prohibition “noose” tightened on the industry.  It was a ploy to lend a patriotic aspect to their marketing.  But as the cartoon shown above indicates, the force of “dry” also saw Uncle Sam abetting the liquor industry by profiting significantly from the taxes collected.   Before 1920 the largest source of federal revenues were excise taxes on alcohol.

The trade card from “Wolf’s Famous Distilling Company” of Kansas City was a typical depiction of Uncle Sam in the whiskey trade.  The old gentleman is pointing to a federal revenue stamp on “Wolf’s Monogram Whiskey” that indicates it has been “bottled in bond,” that is, under government mandated conditions that dictated length of aging, alcoholic strength or “proof” and other requirements in return for delayed taxation.  Although the claim that the stamp guaranteed “strength” might have some validity, it had nothing to do with quality or purity.

“Freeland Sour Mash” was a whiskey brand from Henry W. Smith & Company of Cincinnati.  Although this outfit has been described as operating a distillery in Covington, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from 1890 to 1901, records indicate that Smith was a rectifier, re-distilling and blending whiskeys obtained from Kentucky distilleries, particularly several in the Covington area, Federal District #2.  It somewhat strange then that Uncle Sam is shown sitting whittling on the 7th District in Kentucky, some distance from Cincinnati. 

The Yellowstone Whiskey ad specifically identifies Uncle Sam with “Bottled in Bond.  A whiskey wholesaler, the firm of Taylor & William was established in Louisville just after the Civil War in 1865.  In 1871 the sales manager, Charles Townsend, made an annual trip to the West Coast. En route he visited the newly opened Yellowstone National Park and, noting the enthusiasm over this natural wonder, decided it might be a good idea to name a whiskey after it.  Viola!  a 
national brand was born! 

This tradecard from what purports to be “Mascot Rye,” is an unusual depiction of Uncle Sam.  In the first place, he is without his trademark top hat and bears a collar on which is written “honest and good as I am.”  The label on the bottle bears an image of a horseman riding through a horseshoe and identifies J. Polsnek” of Akron, Ohio, as the source of the whiskey.  My extensive research on Polsnek and Mascot Rye has failed to reveal any information on either.

By contrast, George Benz & Sons are well documented St. Paul, Minnesota, whiskey wholesales and eventually distillers, after buying the Blue Ribbon Distillery in Eminence, Kentucky.  One of the company’s premier brands was “Uncle Sam’s Monogram Whiskey.”   The image of Uncle, however, gives him dark skin, looking like a strutting performer in black face.

A second representation of this whiskey in a Benz saloon sign, finds him safely white, albeit with a pot belly.  George Benz and his wife bore five sons, many of whom entered the business. In 1887, the name was changed to George Benz & Sons to reflect their role in the business. The sons continued the enterprise following George Benz's death in 1908 at age 69, switching to real estate upon the advent of Prohibition in 1918. 

This ad for McCulloch’s Green River Whiskey, a major Kentucky bourbon is more subtle in its identification of Uncle Sam with the product.  In the background, is one or more “guagers,” federal officials tasked with testing each barrel from the distiller to ascertain the “proof,” i.e. percentage of alcohol contained on which the tax can be levied.  It may be symbolic That Uncle Sam is looking away from the testing process and busy whittling.  Too often, it seems, distillers bribed the gaugers to under-report the alcoholic content and lower their tax obligations. 

Theodore Netter, one of several Philadelphia brothers who were in the liquor trade, united two symbols of America for his trade card.  Uncle Sam stands on one side and (Miss) Freedom, here wrapped in the flag, stand toasting each other.  Netter adds in a shield to claim that his blended  — and not bottled in bond — “American Famous Fine Whiskey” is “guaranteed under the National Pure Food Act.”  This was yet another false claim in an effort to appear government approved.  The food and drug authorities soon reacted to such claims and levied sanctions against their use.

The notion of not just one but two symbols of the United States also appealed to the Scottish makers of Haig Whiskey.  A trade card for American consumers featured Miss Liberty of statue fame holding aloft a bottle of the famous pinch bottle while Uncle Sam takes an obsequious bow before this United Kingdom import.   Haig distillery, now known as the Cameronbridge Distillery was founded in 1824. In 1830, it became the first distillery to produce grain whiskey using the column still method.  

Each of the images above was created before 1920 and the advent of National Prohibition.   After Repeal in 1934, and the effective end of the “dry” threat, the use of Uncle Sam as a symbol for whiskey merchandising largely came to and end.  From time to time, however, a whiskey-maker will decide to resurrect the image in whole or in part.  One of the nation’s oldest and most iconic brands not so long ago decided to advertise its longevity at Christmas time by stowing a bottle with a gift package in Uncle Sam’s top hat.   The simplicity of the design can be compared with those shown earlier.

Note:  The two prior treatments on this blog that featured Uncle Sam in liquor ads were “Enlisting Uncle Sam as Booze Salesman,” October 1, 2011, and “Return of Uncle Sam - Whiskey Salesman,”  February 15, 2012.  

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Chewing Gum As Viewed Through Glass

Although homo sapiens have been chewing a variety of substances for centuries,  it was an American, John B. Curtis, who first commercialized chewing gum in 1848.  He knew that American Indians chewed resin made from the sap of spruce trees and decided a market existed. As time went along other enterprising individuals enhanced the product by using other chewing substances and adding flavorings.  Today annual sales of worldwide are in excess of $26 billion annually.  Much of this growth can be laid to the imaginative, vigorous promotions by U.S. gum companies, including the use of glass advertising paperweights and change trays.

This post is devoted to a selection of these, beginning with a 1931 weight from the Beech-Nut Packing Co. of New York.  Best known for baby food, the company launched its line of chewing gum in 1910.  In May 1931, the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart flew across America in an aircraft that had been specially made for her by the Beech-Nut folks to promote their chewing gum.  Called an “autogiro,” they featured it on a paperweight.   A forerunner of the helicopter, this was a relatively new aviation design that many at the time believed to be dangerous.  Earhart made the trip safely only to disappear over the Pacific six years later.

Teaberry Gum, celebrated on a weight, dates from about 1900 when it was patented by Charles Burke, an inventor from Pittsburgh who was experimenting with various flavors of chewing gum in his basement.  Commercialized by the D. L. Clark Co. of Pittsburgh the product managed a slow and steady sales record, peaking in the 1960s when Clark, hoping to create a dance craze called “The Teaberry Shuffle,” created commercials using the Mexican-themed music of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  The dance failed to catch on and more recently manufacture of the gum went “south of the border.”

Few among us have never tasted Juicy Fruit, particularly popular with kids.  The average age of the typical Juicy Fruit consumer reputedly is under 20, with three to eleven year olds making up 60% of the business.  The Wrigley Company that issued the paperweight above, first marketed the gum in 1893.  Although the brand name is familiar to 99% of American polled, there is strong disagreement about what fruit serves as the model for Juicy Fruit flavor.  Some say a combination of banana and pineapple, others jackfruit, still others get a whiff of peach.  Wrigley won’t say.

Thomas Adams, an American scientist and inventor, is credited with substituting a natural gum called “chicle” for resin and founded a company that soon dominated the market with Black Jack, rolled out in 1884, and Chiclets, 1889. Prosperity allowed Adams to experiment with new flavors and substances, including pepsin, the chief digestive enzyme in the stomach.  By using pepsin (or claiming to) the gum could be marketed as a digestive aid. Since the enzyme apparently has little flavor, the company could add the taste of “tutti frutti” to the mix and issue a paperweight to celebrate it.

“I didn’t know that the Coca-Cola Company once upon a time issued a chewing gum?”   You didn’t because Coca-Cola didn’t.   This gum was produced by an entirely different outfit, The Coca-Cola Gum Company of Atlanta.  Although Coke’s people fiercely protected their trade name, by contract they allowed the gum to carry their trademark but insisted that the product include Coca-Cola as an ingredient.  A 1904 ad asserted that Coca-Cola Gum “contains the delightful tonic properties of Coca-Cola.”  The public, however, seemed averse to chewing — rather than drinking — their Coke.  Despite a dandy paperweight the gum company was in business only a short time.

Mo-Jo Gum may have been a latecomer to the chewing wars, made by The Chicle Products Company of Newark, New Jersey.  Its ads, circa 1915, were aimed squarely at denigrating the competition, suggesting that the others contained impurities.  “We have no monopoly, we simply will not make Dirty Chewing Gum.”  Take that Adam’s Black Jack!   Symbolizing its “purity” Mo-Jo was white but its labels, as shown on a weight, were highly colorful, likely to appeal to children.  Just how a tiger, squirrel and macaw sent a message of “pure, clean chewing gum” has gone unexplained.  Another Mo-Jo label featured an alligator and two egrets.

One of dozens of gum companies that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th Century America was the Chusit Gum Company that shows up in Cincinnati business directories around 1903.  It was a company headed by a well-known local businessman and investor named O. M. Bake, with an equally prestigious group of officers.   Their financial gamble, symbolized by the dice they included in their paperweight, may not have paid off because the company shortly disappeared from directories.  The name they chose for their gum, however, was clever, suggesting both “chews it” and “choose it.” 

As an afficianado of bubble gum myself, I am reminded that the product,  invented in 1928 by Walter Diemer for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company of Philadelphia, disappeared during World War II, as I was growing up, possibly because of a shortage of basic materials.   Fleers’ Double Bubble, the first commercially made bubble gum, made sales of $1.5 million the first year of its marketing even at one cent a pop.  To help sell the new gum, Diemer himself taught salespeople how to blow bubbles so that they in turn could teach potential customers.  In the post-war period, bubble gum returned and Double Bubble issued a number of paperweights, each with the same motif but various names attached of their dealers and representatives. 

Bazooka bubble gum, always my favorite, was first marketed in the U.S. shortly after WWII by the Tops Company of Brooklyn, New York.  As advertised on the weight shown here, the company included within its wrapper a color comic strip called “Bazooka Joe,” harking back to the war when “bazooka” was the name given to a man-portable recoilless anti-tank rocket launcher.  The offer of a “free gift” on the paperweight was a bit misleading.  For example, a telescope was offered “free” if someone sent in 200 Bazooka comics but just five and 40 cents also would suffice.

The ten paperweights shown here help to anchor in time chewing gum, a product developed more than a century and half ago as a result of American ingenuity and inventive spirit.  As a result, the jaws of  Americans, and indeed the world, ever since have been working up and down with regularity — “chewin,’ chawin’, chewing gum.”

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Still More Kids Selling Beer

I continued to be astonished, amused, attracted — you find a word — for the use of children in beer ads in the pre-Prohibition era, that is, before 1920. This is my third post on the subject.  I find that some brewers regularly used kids to sell their suds.  Two of them are profiled here.  Others seem to have featured them as a “one off,” among a variety of images.

Franz Falk’s Bavaria Brewery of Milwaukee (1856-1892) may have set a record for the use of children in its ads.  In addition of two trade cards I have already shown,  I have collected five more images, like the one shown right.  Initially Falk seems to have been reluctant to show the youngsters in close association with his beer.  This card shows two children ice skating, with the male on the right holding the hand of the girl.  Although skating is a common winter occupation in Milwaukee, the presence of mountains in the background make it clear we are not in Wisconsin

We might be in Bavaria because that is where Falk got his start, learning how to make beer in a local brewery.  He struck out for the U.S. in 1848 settling first in Cincinnati and three months later went to Milwaukee with its strong German population.  By that time all of Milwaukee’s famous breweries — Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz -  had been established.  Falk found work at smaller breweries, saving his money until in 1855 with a partner, he built a malting and brewing enterprise in the city’s Menomonee Valley.  

Shown above, a second kiddie card from Falk depicts a young girl contemplating a golf club.  There is no indication what this illustration may have to do with beer.  Later trade cards are more explicit in that connection, for example showing a youthful waiter attempting to bring bottles and glasses full of Franz Falk Brewing Co.’s Milwaukee Export Beer while a dog imperils the exercise by biting onto the lad’s belt.  

Although a similar disaster is implied by a trade card of a small girl who seemingly has been carrying three bottles of beer and two glass goblets on her apron.  She is finding out that the arrangement does not work well as the items begin to spill on the ground.  The little curly hair does not seem to mind, however, as she provides a wan smile.  The only youngster who seems to be having no trouble getting beer from here to there is a well-dressed black girl.  She has put her beers in a sturdy basket.

In a city full of breweries, Falk’s advertising apparently was successful.  By 1872, Franz’s was the fourth largest in Milwaukee.  In 1880 the Bavaria brewery consisted of five brick and stone buildings, including the yards, outbuildings, and side track to the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. The site occupied about 5 acres, operating with eight icehouses and on-site malting production of approximately 100,000 bushels annually. Falk employed 100 men, twelve teams of horses and operated its own cooperage. In addition Falk owned their own rail cars for shipping beer.  After a major fire in 1892, however, the Falk family sold out to Pabst.

The Krug Brewery is another that featured children on it's advertising trade cards.  As shown above, Krug went a step further than Falk by showing its kids sitting at a table with bottle and glasses of beer of varying amount of liquid.  They are announced as having a “theatre party,” dressed in costume.  The text makes clear that Krug’s “Cabinet Beer” is “specially brewed for family use” — apparently no matter how young.

In 1859 Fred Krug established the Krug Brewery with an original output of one and a half barrels a day.  Located in Downtown Omaha, by 1880 the company was brewing approximately 25,000 barrels a year. In 1894 the brewery moved to new facilities adjacent to South Omaha.  The plant cost $750,000 and was reportedly one of the best equipped breweries in the country.  Fred was doing well by making children his salespersons and emphasizing family use.

I am particularly struck by one trade cards that show a young lad perched on a stool with a large bottle of Krug’s Cabinet beer on the table in front of him.  He is said to be writing a testimonial to the brew, which would indicate considerable personal interaction with the bottles.  It likely read, as does the card, “Cabinet Beer bring Health and Joy to Every Family.”

My  favorite kiddie ad for beer is the toddler depicted on a trade card by the Indianapolis Brewing Company, the city’s biggest and longest-lived brewery.  Formed in 18897 from a consolidation of three already established brewing companies in the Indiana city.  It survived through National Prohibition and continued operations until 1948.

The last example here is a trade card from the Imperial Brewing Company, the creation of a group of Kansas City investors who saw a growing market for lager beer in a burgeoning population. Financed at $50,000, the facility was to have a brewing capacity of 50,000 barrels.  Plagued by problems of profitability, it went bankrupt in in 1905, had new ownership that changed the name and downgraded Imperial from its flagship brand.  The trade card makes use of the art work of Ellen Clapsaddle, whose depictions of wee ones were highly popular at the turn of the 20th Century.  The card here would have been sent by the brewery at Christmas.

None of these images of children selling beer survived after the fourteen years of National Prohibition.  By then sensibilities about advertising of alcoholic beverages had changed markedly and it was no longer appropriate to identify kids with booze.  Thus these images are now just short of one hundred years old and approaching “antique status.”

Note:  For this blog my first post on the subject of “Kids Selling Beer” was June 18, 2011, followed by a second article on May 21, 2016.  A post devoted to the life and work of Ellen Clapsaddle ran on March 2, 2012.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Reviewing My Life Through Cartoons

During the last 45 years from time to time people have given me magazine and newspaper cartoons that they believe have some particular relevance to my life.  Sometimes the motivation is that the drawings cite my given or surname;  sometimes because they are relevant to a particular chapter or event in my life.  I have kept those cartoons and, exclusively in this post, now present them in what seems like a reasonable order.

The first cartoon is from Gary Larsen depicting two couples separated by tiny islands, one frolicking on an automobile tire hanging from a palm tree.  The wife of the other couple, apparently critical, remarks:  “Well, the Sullivans are out on their tire again.”  This scene recalls those giddy years 1963-1965 when as newlyweds my wife, Paula, and I lived in Georgetown, D.C., and did at least our share of partying.

But ambition also had to have its day and a New Yorker cartoon seeming caught me at my desk as a young Congressional staffer — appropriately the sideburns, glasses and tie — admonishing my wife:  “Paula, how many times have I told you not to bother me when I’m on the way up.”  (She likely was calling to say one of the children had croup.)

Charles Rodrigues (1926-2004) did not know me when he penned the cartoon above for Playboy, using my surname.  But the situation in my House Foreign Affairs Committee office with my colleague, Jack Brady, was highly pertinent.  The other prisoner wants to spring Sullivan “in the faint hope of getting your incessant babble out of this cell.”  Brady frequently told me:  “With you the second bullshitter never has a chance!”

No question but when Jimmy Carter won the Presidency in 1976 that I wanted out of the Committee “cell” and a place in the Administration.  Another colleague spotted this cartoon by Barney Tobey (1906-1988) in the New Yorker that shows two college professors seeking a “nibble from the Carter transition team.”  I was fortunate enough to get that nibble and ended up as head of the Asia and Pacific Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

During my four years as head of the Asia Bureau, I trust my service was not as authoritarian as the cartoon right.  The drawing was altered to fit the occasion and sent to me by one of my staff, a noted jokester.  In 1980, Reagan having won the presidency from Jimmy Carter, I was thrust after 20 years back into the private sector, working for an international consulting firm.  One of my friends thought that the Bill Long cartoon was appropriate to my new situation.  

During the period of adjustment, I was engaged in a variety of activities, including organizing kazoo bands, both among extended family members and my co-workers at the consulting firm.  As a result, a Gary Larsen cartoon of cavemen playing a tune on what appear to be lizards appealed to at least one family member as appropriate for me.

In his inaugural address in 1989, George H. W. Bush mentioned “a thousands points of light…all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.”  The comment gave rise to a multitude of cartoons at the time, including one by Robert Maxwell Weber, known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007.  Given my obsession with televised sports, this one had a certain appropriateness.

The final cartoon by Dave Coverly (born 1964) below, also has some relevance.  Although ordered to retire at age 75 by my consulting firm boss after twenty-some years on the job, a man who might be compared with one at the podium, I quit and got another job right away.  But if there had been a retirement ceremony for “Jack,” I might well have written my own “goodbye.”

They say that art imitates life.  It would seem that idea can be expanded to cartoons that, now and again, have imitated my life.  Or was my life imitating those cartoons?