Sunday, April 4, 2010

Trad 80's

Newsflash.....LFG was reading the Sunday NY Times a moment ago and called me over to see a front page story about a sequel to the Preppy Handbook. I figured y'all might like to know that girl who owes me a belt... AllieVonSummersverb made the front page today. Here's the link!
Finding the proverbial three boxes…they’ve become proverbial at least to me-given the memories that have emerged from them-continues to feed ideas for posting. I found another photo album that conjured another round of great memories from the late 80’s.

I will always be grateful to that big ole Swiss-Prussian pharma company that took a chance on me when I was a kid. I landed in their employ on a lark and the next thirteen years set the stage for the rest of my journey. Having had no other employer of this scale to base my experiences on, I had no idea how well trained I was becoming-how well travelled I would be and how blessed I was to have an employer pay for graduate school at a fairly high profile university. To this day I swear I believe that my mom doesn’t really think I went there.

But…they did exact…albeit it fairly…their pound of flesh. Flesh exacting that has made me better for the experience. The structure and inflexibility…the discipline of a Swiss-German organization…the Prussian exactitude was good for a right brained class clown like me. I saw careers shit canned as a result of poor judgement at a single cocktail event-and I'm not talking about getting drunk-I'm talking about the simple act of just saying the wrong thing. I witnessed D.T.’s advancement prospects evaporate at a national meeting because he showed up with permed  hair. Was curly hair a no-no? Absolutely not. Back when I had more of it mine was curly-no big deal. What mattered was coming to work one day with straight hair and then rolling in the next day with some disco fever tight perm......bye bye. This was a white button down black cap toe company back then. We couldn’t even wear a sportcoat to work.
I suppose one of the most significant examples of their cultural rigidity was the fact that if you were going to advance in the organization, you were going to move to New Jersey for a home office stint. There were always enough folks with blind ambition-like me-to eagerly jump on the bandwagon-accept the life of poverty that N.J. afforded entry level kids in their twenties who wanted to run a company one day. Let me just cut to the chase on my point about moving to N.J. . . . It was a test of one’s commitment to the organization and the pay sucked. None of us had a pot to piss in. Note the house above...this was the street on which I lived in N.J. Suffice it to say that I lived in an adjacent shack-eating beanie weenies-driving a Jetta.
Now back to the pictures I found. We had no money but we had a ton of fun. By happenstance when I moved up to N.J. a gaggle of other Southerners moved up at the same time. And we lived within ten minutes of each other in Montclair which is a lovely little bedroom community to Gotham. I can’t explain in my poorly assembled words the level of friendship that evolved from this impromptu assemblage of rednecks. We had each other’s backs-we ate and drank together all the time-we terrorized NYC every weekend and we drank a lot-did I already mention that? ADG-JBA-ACA on a Sunday night. I remember this like it was yesterday-amazing that I can however. It was a "school night"...not the weekend and we were drinking liquor. Forgive me.
JBA...he was originally from Atlanta. Fairly old money. Piedmont Driving Club stock. His grandmother wrote a book on Southern Cooking that became a classic in the 1940's-50's. He had a little bit of money but one of those typical situations where there wasn't enough old money to preclude his generation from seeking employ. He went on to be a V.P. at several pharmas before starting his own ad agency. He was brilliant and I owe some of my own career advancement to being associated with him during those days. Years later, he would host my wedding rehearsal cookout on his back lawn at Ponte Vedra. A few years after that, he would take his own life. One of the best friends I've ever had. LFG was a baby and he sent her a Lilly Pullitzer teddy bear with a note ..."To LFG from Uncle JBA". It's in her bedroom here at Casa Minimus. He never got to see LFG. I got an email from his son a few months ago-he pledged my college fraternity. His dad was an SAE but I forgave him of that long ago.

YDL is in the middle. Country girl from Tennessee. Whip smart and don't let the hard drinkin' bumpkin girl facade fool you. Masters in Biochem and pragmatic as hell. She's still with the same company after all these years. And finally ACA...we fought like cats and dogs most of the time. Mainly because we had the same construct. Smartasses...always right...never lacking an opinion and keeping score against each other all the time. 
ADG and JBA...on the cusp of pre-dinner cocktails and subsequent debauchery for sure. 
I think she's a little pissed at me right here. I might be a little pissed. Albeit in a Country Britches British tan suit. This was a bit before I could afford Ralph and Flusser. And no, I wasn't looking at her hooters-she had none.
I think we made up. I was a difficult little fella to stay mad with for too long back then. Plus I was prolly picking up that tab that night so I deserved a little smoocheroo. I can also tell you under oath where we ended up on this particular night-after dinner. A bunch of us scooted uptown to the Surf Club in Gotham. It was the closest thing to the juke box playlist of the KA house and the sartorial plumage and footwork antics of the Chinese Disco.
I'm telling you the midst of seventy hour work weeks and no money-we had a big time-all the time. White linen pocket square and two women. Kinky.
Alexander Julian glen plaid DB and some woman. See that little company logo lapel pin? Had I gone downstairs to the company cocktail reception without it-I'd have been toast. I want my damn hair back.
C.B. ... She worked in NYC at Banco Popular. I ran my best 10k with her while living in N.J. 36:35...amazing what you can do when you aren't yet thirty and there's a hottie running in front of you. I can't drive a 10k in 36:35 anymore.
Oh...and girlfriend from S.C. She came up to see me a few times and attended one of my company tropical retreats before finally doing away with me.
Popped collars...been wearing them that way for thirty years. JTS is to this day one of my best buddies. During my divorce he called me every day-to make sure I was eating and bathing and doing the basics. I don't deserve friends like this day he remains the best buddy from from those pharma days. Nothing like a Rolling Rock in the morning to knock the edge off of a bad head from the night before. JTS and I are explaining something-trying to get out of something-trying to rationalize some behavior from the previous evening. 
 I think we gave up on trying to explain ourselves. We are at an old beach house somewhere on the Jersey Shore. My first and last visit to those teeming shores. Disco-Speedo-Gold Rope Chains. We stood out like a fart in church down there. JTS and I both ended up in Washington DC a few years later-our antics continue to this day.
Any evidence that I might have been in Cape May? Geez....look at the size of those damn letters. Fuzzy Dice leanings way back then.
Not sure what project we were in the midst of in JBA's basement but if I learned anything from the project it was measure three times-have a cocktail and delegate the cutting to someone else.

Thanks for tolerating my walk down a great stretch of memory lane.

Still looking for my hair....Onward...ADG


Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - How many girls?? I lost count at 69....

Scott Alexander said...

Really enjoyed reading this one! Happy Easter!

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Great hair, great clothes, happy smiles.

"Some woman"? Hmmmm.

LFG was reading the Sunday NY Times, at her age? Impressive.

...update the mindset and explain just what it means to be a Chip or a Muffy in a Barack world.

WTF? Why must everything be tampered with? Most worrying. I am not a big fan of the preppy handbook, but it evidently means a lot to some trads.

Preppy 101 said...

As always, your bio-post takes me from tears to laughter to tsk-tsk and back. Thanks for sharing! All of y'all = such cuties. :-)

Summer is a Verb said...

I swung by to grab your link to drag your name threw the mud alas yet again and low and behold MY name in lights! Merci ADG, merci. And, if i make it big from this launch pad, it'll be, BELTS FOR EVERYONE!!! XXOO

longwing said...


ADG said...



LagunaTradMan...thanks. I wish I could muster same said smiles. Tampered with...everything unfortunately is tampered with these days.


AllieVonSummersverb...but if it's "belts for everyone" then how the hell am I supposed to feel special?


TWJ said...

The children have pre-order old dad his copy of True Prep and Take Ivy. It was so nice of them to do this, especially since they have just about worn out my copy of TOPH.

Great story, I am always so impressed with LFG and being reminded of my younger antics through your blogs. (This is why I do not have a blog, too worried about the lawsuits from all those skeletons.)

As for the hair, feel lucky my friend, I gave away so many locks that there is none left. I guess it was a good thing I found my “Beautiful Blond” when I still had some. And referring to hair again, I left a follow-on comment on Longwing’s blog for you.


Patsy said...

oh no, the Surf Club. I was overserved there after my sister's college graduation and woke up at the end of the metro north line. good times, good times.

heavy tweed jacket said...

Wonderfully fun looking images. The guys look slim, fit and dapper in their polos and suits. I echo LBT, LFG reading the Sunday NYT, and giving you a heads up on an artiicle about a sequel to TOPH is absotootutely priceless.

ADG said...

TWJ...I pre-ordered both books today too...and did a post on them that will appear later in the week. As for the hair...I got no blond so I'd prefer to hang on to the remnants that I still have.

Patsy...Overservice was the norm back

HeavyTweed...glad you are back my man. Indeed, those were fun times back then.

Anonymous said...

Laguna Beach Trad beat me to it, but I'll repeat it: I don't know LFG's age or grade, but I'm certainly impressed that she spent part of her Easter Sunday reading the New York Times.

The more I read your blog, the more I like it, and on both cases, that's a lot.

Kathie Truitt said...

Bittersweet memories.

njglenn said...

Great post ADG. I'm new to your blog and enjoying it immensely. BTW that house in Montclair is on Upper Mountain if I'm not mistaken. I reside in Verona, just "over the hill".

ADG said...

njglenn...yes! That's Upper Mtn. Ave. I lived in a carriage house/shack.

Unknown said...

Pardon me, ADG II (can I call you "Deuce" or just call you?),
but we lived in Upper Montclair ... JBA and ACA and JTS and I would certainly remind you.