The senior partner at the publication where I worked can be described as a man with ‘class’ and ‘presence’. He was a man who never did anything half way. He was always well dressed, went to the best restaurants and if he traveled it was always ‘first class’. And he expected a certain standard from the people who worked for him.
The following story illustrates this very well. I had only been with the publication a short time when it was decided that the senior partner, the advertising manager, the editor and myself would go to Sacramento on a Saturday. A beverage distributor in that city had opened new offices and warehouse and was holding a grand opening on a Saturday afternoon. The plan was for us to go to the opening with me shooting a good many photos and then we would stay over in Sacramento and return on Sunday.
The Senior partner, who lived in Atherton, would drive his car picking up our Editor, who also lived down the Peninsula, then our advertising manager and I in the City.
Since it was only one night away from home I would only need a few things. I had one suitcase, but it was quite big for the few items I would be taking. Normally for my own weekend jaunts I would use my surplus 10th mountain division rucksack. Finally I decided to just put my shaving kit, and what clean clothes I would need in a shopping bag. Most of my luggage would be the Speed Graphic and a large case of flash bulbs and film holders, since I would be taking many pictures.
I was the last to be picked up and the Senior Partner and I loaded my camera, gear and the shopping bag into the Cadillac. He said nothing but both the Editor and Ad Manager told me later they were afraid he would have a heart attack when he saw the shopping bag.
The event in Sacramento went very well. I took many photos and after the opening we settled in at the El Rancho Hotel in Sacramento, at that time one of the best and most popular places to stay in the State Capitol.
My Editor and the Advertising manager were quick to pair up to share one room and left me to share a room with the boss. I was never in the habit of truly unpacking when going anywhere. I would just work out of the suitcase and I confess I still do it to this very day. If I needed my pajamas I would just rustle around the shopping bag till I found them. Same with shaving kit, etc. The next morning we were all rather the worse for wear after the amount of drinking we had done the afternoon and evening before. However the trip back to San Francisco went smoothly enough. In the whole weekend the Senior Partner never once mentioned my unique way of carrying my belongings.
However about a week later he strolled into my office about 11:45 and asked if I was free for lunch. I said I was and we walked a block down Market Street to the Palace Hotel, now the Sheraton Palace. Here we dined splendidly in the famous Palace Court, another first for me.
After lunch he casually said there was a wholesale merchandise distributor down the street where he wanted to buy a few things and he would like me to come along.
He knew the people there and after our greeting and some small talk he said he would like to see a good quality suitcase. When the article was shown it was a beautiful leather two suiter with brass trim. I think wholesale at the time it cost about $70. Which I might add was just about what I was earning a week.
He said that he would buy it and take it with us. Then he turned to me and said, “well now you will not need that shopping bag anymore”. This is a gift from me. There no reproach in this. He just wanted it understood that he expected a certain standard from the people around him. It was just one of many lessons I learned from him that had nothing to do with journalism.
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