for my father, one of the original mad men

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today is my father’s birthday and he’s gone now, but never forgotten.and whenever i see the show, ‘mad men’, i think of him. the look, the feel, the era – that was our life growing up. we lived in the twirly, swirling world of advertising. 

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my dad, in the left forefront, in a very important lunch meeting

 we had cocktail parties at our suburban detroit house, hosting automotive clients and friends and all sorts of interesting characters. there were martinis and dresses and canapés and jazz and laughs long into the night. i once saw him put on a horrible wig and wear it like nothing was unusual, just to get a reaction. we would sneak down in our pajamas and sit on the stairs, just to be a part of all the hullabaloo.  

on regular nights, we were always pitching ideas to him around the dinner table and suggesting musical lyrics, tag lines, and concepts for commercials. we never realized he was a media guy in the business, and that all of our creative gestures did not have any impact, other than making him laugh. 

he was a tall, blonde, happy guy, who married my mother, a tiny, dark strong italian, and he was no match for her really. i remember him working a lot, traveling, and he could not fix a thing around the house or cook an egg or plant a tree, but he could tell a story, and he could talk anyone into buying anything, and he was very good at what he did everyday in the office – a man absolutely born to the job.

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my parents

 on saturdays, i watched every western and wwll movie with him, just so we could hang out together on the couch. and he would tell me made-up stories about the old stars. to this day, i remember the music from ‘the dirty dozen,’ and i can name every cowboy ever on television. he took my sisters and i on ‘one-on-one daddy/daughter dates’, where we got to choose what we did, and i frequently picked sharing a milkshake, his favorite, and going to a funny movie with him, just to hear him laugh.

he had the same name as a local television host, a former hollywood bit-player, who hosted a popular movie show. and even though they looked nothing like each other, we always had good tables when going out to dinner, for when he made reservations, restaurants frequently thought he was the same guy, and he never told them any different. he cheerfully signed autographs all the time for people when they discovered his name, and they somehow imagined him to be the same person. 

when i was little, he showed me his ‘official man from u.n.c.l.e. identification card,’ and told me it was top secret, that he was really a spy, and not to tell anyone. it made sense to me as he had to travel a lot, and i figured advertising was the perfect cover. i always loved, spies, and mysteries and crime stories, and i was so excited that i immediately told everyone i came in contact with, and swore them to secrecy too. when i was much older, and i brought it up, he said that one of his clients, chevrolet, had sponsored the show, and they had given him the i.d. card as a fun promotional gift. and i loved him for letting me imagine. 

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dad on the right involved in some schmoozing and story-telling

interesting that i ended up in the same business, through a very circuitous route, many years later. guess it was in my blood, though i was on the creative and promotions side of the ad world, where i had to tell stories and get people to buy my product – not cars, but instead, movies and plays and parades and circuses – pure entertainment. experiences where they could suspend reality for a bit and just let their imaginations roam free. 

and when he offered me media suggestions, they did not have any impact, other than making me laugh. happy birthday dad, and thanks for all of the memories, both the ones that were real and the ones you created for me.

Don Draper: Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.  – (Season 1, Episode 1 – Mad Men)

 

 

 

amctv.com

 

142 responses »

  1. I love this show! Also you post about your dad and growing up! I’m in advertising and publishing and everyone at work watches this show! So cook that you dad was one of the original mad men. What a lovely tribute and I love the photos they are wonderful! We always miss our dad’s I think! I know how you feel! Beautiful post! 😃😃

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  2. What a beautiful tribute. It says a lot about your father that you’re able to write such a nice post about him and recall so many fond memories. I think the world of my father, as well, and pity those who weren’t fortunate enough to have such wonderful role models.

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  3. I relate to your writing a lot. But this especially. I will save my own blog to share about my own dad because I could take a lot of space up relating to your memories with my own. 😉
    But this tribute is for your dad. And Happy Birthday to him!

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  4. First of all I loved this tribute to your dad. Second of all mad men is one of my favorites for so many reasons and it is so fun to learn that is was a way of life in some respects for your family. Lastly, I think it’s cool…yes cool because I’m a child of the 60’s and 70’s…that you started out in advertising and now you use your creative mind teaching children. My favorite teachers were ones who had really experienced a well rounded life.

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  5. Happy birthday, Mr. Mad Man, way up there in the sky. That’s where your daughter, Beth, still puts you in her life, I want you to know. You lived strong, you loved your family, you taught by example. Well, done, sir, surely smiling up there.

    Beth. Wow. All your posts share bits of wisdom about the way you are, but this one, this one, this one! opens the living room door and invites us all in to sit on the stairs and watch with you and share the hullabaloo.

    Thank you. Congratulations. And, the picture you share with us on this blog is a wonderful combination of your mom and dad.

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    • you are very welcome mark, for all of it. i think writers reveal things about themselves with everything they put to paper. thank you for continuing to read my words and view my pics )

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  6. Happy Birthday, Beth’s dad.

    I idolized my dad. If I ever started writing about him and retelling my memories, I’d never stop. There’s something so special about daddys and their daughters. I encourage that one-on-one thing with my son because I know it’s building memories my granddaughter will cherish.

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  7. Oh Beth, you know how stories about parents gets to me, this is no exception. Your love from your dad oozes as you said and how proud you are of him as he is of you. I can imagine him looking at you from the universe smiling that you have walked in his footsteps. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD, your daughter is kind, loving and caring, with a beautiful soul. Her ability to reach out to people and show them they are worth something, is truly amazing.
    I love the photos, he’s a fine looking man and your mum..well she is stunning, reminds me of Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor rolled into one. A beautiful heartfelt tribute that only you could do. Your memories are strong, your love for him continues. Hugs and thank you for posting. xx

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    • thanks holli, i know you have great memories of him too, and i’m sure he and the boys would have loved each other. he would have had an aussie flag flying in no time for them )

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  8. Dad would be really proud of you Beth – you’re quite the storyteller yourself. I still have this sixth sense about advertising thanks to Dad. I remember going with dad on one of his advertising business trips as a real little kid and being wowed by the Mad Men lifestyle – fancy dinners, private tours, tickets to anything we wanted and all I could drink Shirley Temples! Total rock star treatment.
    Happy Birthday dad.

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    • thanks scott, and you too. i think he ingrained some of that approach to life in all of us. i wish we could still go to college football games with him and watch movies with him, but we are lucky we still have all the fun memories. ) b

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  9. What a poignant tribute to your dad, Beth! It allowed me a peak into his life as I only get to know about him from fragments of stories and pictures. As my own dad’s birthday is approaching, I think of the numerous ways he impacted my life and how I wish he could be here to share in the joys of my journey here. Thank you for touching my heart in a very special way and Happy Birthday to your dad!

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  10. Great story. Your dad sounds wonderful. Your mom, beautiful. I think as parents we do stuff with our kids that we know we will enjoy together, but we forget sometimes how big of a kick they get out of our enjoyment of life. We’re trying to entertain them when they are entertained just seeing us enjoy life, and being a part of that. Sounds like your dad had it figured out.

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  11. Your Dad was a legend in his time! I love that he could not do the everyday ‘guy’ things or help out with housework, like cooking an egg, but he could spin a tale! He could sell anything! Great fun in this tribute to a special man in your life. We were both blessed with great solid cores in our childhood! Your mother, is gorgeous! Sweet memories and happy days. Robin

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  12. Amazing. This is an amazing post. Wow. I have an immense appreciation for story, and the dynamics / nuances connected to story. These pictures are tremendous. The images and the vignettes of you hanging out with your dad, watching Western & WW2 movies are beautiful. By the way: this isn’t flattery. This type of post connects and resonates with my soul. Peace, T

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  13. Beth, along with the scads of folks above, I loved this story! The image of watching shows with your Dad is warm and cozy, and brought me right back to my living room of the 50s/60s, too. The line “I loved him for letting me imagine” about the Man from Uncle ID card (I remember that show!) was lovely. Long ago, I was impressed by the book, “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor” by Jerry DellaFemina, about the advertising business–terrific read. And, I’ve had Mad Men on my list, like Chatter Master who commented earlier, to Binge Watch–now it’s at the top! The pix are great also–thanks for sharing this. 🙂

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    • thanks for your kind comments and happy you can identify with those days of yore. i’ll have to check out that book, i’m sure it would be a great read. and thanks for following as well – best, beth

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  14. Holy Spamoley, I loved this story! You had the childhood I wanted. I could vividly imagine the details and setting to your memories, probably in large part because I love Mad Men too, which caused a odd sense of (osmosis-ish?) nostalgia. What a lovely relationship, and what a cool dad.
    On another note, I’ve been trying to write something for my wonderful papa (step-dad) too. There are so many possibilities and yet I haven’t been able to hit the note I want. I guess I’ll have to wait for providence, but in the meantime, I sure am glad I got to read your story about, and for, your dad. Beautifully done Beth.

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    • thank you so much for your comments, and i love the holy spamoley. as for writing about your dad, the story about my dad, just hit me one day, as his birthday approached, and it all fell into place. the same may happen for you. ) beth

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  15. Oh Beth, I am so glad I back tracked to see if I’d missed anything. This is beautiful. Breathtaking in fact. What a gift it was to read this morning. The timing is sometimes impeccable when we happen on something we were meant to read. Huge, warm embrace.

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  16. What a lovely portrait of someone who was clearly an outstanding father among his many talents. Its lovely to read such a tribute, written with such warmth. My father was killed in an accident when I was eight years old so I can’t say what he would have been like in the main, but I think your dad would be a hard act to follow 🙂 x

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  17. Happy Birthday Beth’s Dad. Congratulations on your wonderful family.
    What a lovely tribute Beth. It’s so sad when we lose someone as special as a father, but he lives on in all those moments you remember, in the daughter you are and in the grandchildren he may well have met ever before the rest of you did. Who’s to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Loved Mad Men and fun to think how you kinda lived it. What a handsome guy and BEAUTIFUL Mom! You are a beautiful creation with a bit of each of them. What a lovely thing. Lovely story to read. Happy Birthday in remembrance of your dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Beth, I love, LOVE this story. If all children had your father as a dad, that would make a difference. A big difference. You are one lucky lady, but you already know that. Thank you for this terrific story. Thank you for sharing your father with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What a lovely tribute to your dad…..and how very special a relationship u had with him. Now I understand where your creative story telling comes from and also your love for Italian Momma’s….. nice piece, Beth…: >)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Enjoyed the stories you share about your Dad. When it all ends, all that will be left will be our stories, and I love the ones you shared here. Your Dad had imagination, liked to laugh, and he was thoughtful. Lovely how you remember him and honor him.

    Liked by 1 person

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