Just Wear a Smile and a ………

In 1961, I was hired by a small but ferociously creative agency named Hockaday Associates, headed by Margaret Hockaday and employees who called themselves “Hockadaisies”. I was hired to help to bring a “Big Agency Image” and “Masculinity” to help solicit an enormous client for the Hockadaisies, bigger in gross annual income than the total agency billing. The targeted client was  Jantzen Incorporated, the famed swimwear maker with headquarters n Portland, Oregon. We were in competition with three major agencies and one local agency in Portland.  Within a week, Hockaday  had created a brilliant campaign to present (“Just Wear a Smile and a Jantzen”). Three of us were to make the presentation: Margaret Hockaday, the legendary lady, Sara Tomerlin Lee (both some 30 years my senior)  and Jack. The day we were to leave for the West Coast, I brought my best suit to the office and hung it on the back of my office door for safekeeping. Unfortunately, by the time we loaded all our presentation material and bags into the limousine, I had forgotten completely about the suit on the door. When we arrived at the hotel in Portland about 9 PM at night, I realized the suit I had worn all day while packing and travelling was a disaster. I called to the Bell Desk and asked if they could find an all night dry cleaner so that I could have my suit back before 7 AM (we were due to appear before the Jantzen Board of Directors at 8:30 AM). They said a Bell Hop would pick it up at the end of his shift and another would pick it up on his way to work. I took off the suit and put it on a hanger inside my door. But, the night was not over. The Grand Dames called my room to insist we have a dry rehearsal before going to bed. I told them I did not even have pajamas, no less a suit, as I slept in my shorts. Sarah told Margaret that was no problem since she had an extra robe in her luggage. So the two ladies came in, hair in curlers and dressed in their designer bathrobes. Sarah handed me the most gem-studded floor-length ladies bathrobe I, or perhaps anyone, had ever seen. It was a gift to Sarah frpm Lily Daches. As we began our rehearsal, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to a young Portland bellhop who looked at me, then at the ladies, then at me and then he took the suit I handed him. But, just before I closed the door – he said in a shaking voice from the hall, one obviously trying to control outrage, “Sir, this is Portland!!!” I am sure he was wondering who was doing what and to whom. Today, this may pass in Oregon, America’s most liberated State, with not even a raised eyebrow. But, then was 1961. I’m glad there was no twitter or youtube.

P.S. Regardless of our sordid image, we landed the account.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *