The Richard Jackson Saga: Tenth Grade
Today, Labor Day is the last day of vacation for the boys. At breakfast they were in a mixed mood. Normally they would be complaining about the end of vacation, but at the same time happy to be seeing friends again and catching up on events. This year it was the moaning about the end of vacation and unspoken dread about starting a new school.
Now Mary was different, she was starting school for the first time and was looking forward to making a bunch of new friends that she could invite over to play. She was just chattering away, but no one seemed to be listening to her. The boys were in their private misery, Dad was futilely trying to read his newspaper and Mum and Mrs. Hernandez were discussing a menu for some upcoming dinner.
I tried to settle the adrenalin charged child down a little by telling her that she may not make new friends as fast as she thought. That went nowhere quick.
“I have a magic weapon that will bring all the girls around.”
“What’s that, Squirt?”
“You silly, when they learn that my big brother is Sir Richard the movie star and singer and American Hero they will want to come, just to meet you.”
You ever feel someone walking over your grave? I just had those sort of chills down my back.
“Don’t you think I’m a little old for them?”
“Stupid boy, of course you are, some of them will have older sisters just the right age.”
Maybe if I took off now, I could catch a tramp steamer on its way to Shanghai.
“Well don’t be upset if things don’t work out.”
“Don’t worry Rick, Mum and I will see that you get a nice, pretty girl. We will chase the bad ones away.”
Mary got a funny look on her face. I turned my head just in time to see that she was getting a Mum look. You don’t want to get a Mum look, at least in our house. That went a little further in confirming some suspicions I had about events in England. Hmm, wonder how you get to McMurdo Sound?
I finished breakfast and went to clean up. I had eased up on my running today, just enough to warm me up, but not to tire me. I think the surfing lessons might do that.
After cleaning up I put swimming trunks on under my clothes. I wasn’t certain that my surfing trunks would be ready. Are they called trunks? Anyway after checking out with the guards I headed over to pick up Fred.
He was ready but he looked worn out. As we headed to Huntington Beach I asked him how Saturday night ended up.
“It ended up last night, they stayed Saturday and most of the day yesterday. I went out to pick up dinner and came back to a mess. They cleaned me out, my TV, radio, record player and all my albums, and most of my good clothes. The only thing they didn’t find was my hidden money. I keep that in the freezer wrapped as broccoli.”
“Sorry to hear that, I guess that is the danger of picking up strange women and bringing them home.”
“Yeah be glad you didn’t end up with one. I need to get checked out at a clinic, I may have picked up something.”
I pictured them going through security at Jackson House; then running into Mum. I don’t think we would have been robbed. I would have got an earful, but not robbed.
“Something about them didn’t ring right.”
I got to listen to him the rest of the way to the beach, but I guess I would have been bummed out if it happened to me.
We parked in front of Katins and went in. Our instructor Corky Carroll; wasn’t there yet, so we sat down to wait. Nancy had my surfing shorts waiting so I went to the back room and put them on. I knew surfing trunks didn’t sound right.
I was sitting on the couch when three guys strolled in. One came right over to me.
“Get up Dude, that’s my spot.”
Nancy broken in, “Murf that is not your spot. I’m getting tired of you rudeness. You are banned from the shop.”
This Murf guy turned to Nancy was though he was going to give her a hard time. I stood up. I guess Murf was a bit of a bully type as he turned back to me when he felt me move. I had a good six inches and forty pounds on him. He looked at me, while Nancy was telling him to get out. I did the one eyebrow raised trick but it didn’t seem to faze him.
This Murf laughed at me, and said, “You may be a big guy, but I bet you have never done any serious fighting in your life.”
I thought about two dead men on a bank floor in Colorado, arrows penetrating Russian agents, drawing down on cattle rustlers.
“I’ve had my share.”
One of his buddies must have recognized me because he whispered to the guy. I heard, “Sir Richard.”
Murf sneered, “So with your fancy name and titles you would get the police on me after I whipped your butt. This place is a dump anyway. I’m on to bigger and better things.” With that he and his accomplices left.
“Rick, I’m sorry about that, but Murf thinks he owns the Surf. He’s a jerk and will end up in a bad situation if he doesn’t change his ways.”
“No worries Nancy.”
Corky walked in and that changed the subject. He helped Fred and I select a board that would fit us. I ended up with a ten foot long board of the new material polyurethane. It was called a pig board. Why I have no idea. At least it didn’t weigh a ton like the wooden boards I had used before.
Since I knew how to get into a wave, stand up on the board and steer it most of my first day’s instructions were refreshing rather than learning. Corky told me that all I need now was to catch and ride several thousand waves and I would be a surfer.
He forgot to mention the part about chasing the board down if I lost it, or getting drug across the sand. My skin was raw by late morning. I was glad to take a beach shower and head home. Fred was in a little better shape but not much. Our lessons with Corky were on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next three months.
After dropping Fred off I headed home for another shower, hot this time. I then had lunch and then went at my school work. I was writing an essay when Mary came into the library. She didn’t interrupt me, just stood there.
“What’s up Mary?”
“Do you think the kids at my new school will like me?”
Wow, not the same kid as at breakfast.
“Why wouldn’t they. Your nice and don’t try to hurt other people’s feelings. You are cute, so what’s not to like.”
“I don’t know, they don’t know me so they may not like me.”
“Hmm, you are going to be in Kindergarten?”
“So it’s your first year of school?”
“Yes it is, you know that.”
“So if it’s your first year, it must be all the other kids also.”
“I suppose so.”
“What do you think all those other kids are doing right now? Tomorrow they have to meet a bunch of new kids and they don’t know if they will be liked.”
“I bet they are afraid no one will say hello to them. That would be terrible. I know I would feel bad if no one said Hi to me on my first day of school.”
Mary nodded wisely, “That would be really sad, I better say Hi to them so they will feel good about school, and not be scared.”
“That sounds like a good plan. Now do you think people will like someone who helps them not be scared.”
“So there’s your plan, be nice, say Hi and you will have friends.”
The sad Mary that had been standing there was the normal cheerful happy Mary once again. As she turned to tear off on some mysterious Mary mission I realized Mum had been standing there.
She turned to walk away, but gave me a parting, “Well done.”
I worked for another hour when I realized that I was stiffening up from the strange exercise I had earlier. I went for a run and ended up doing my normal five miles for the day. Another shower, how many was that for the day, and I went back to the books until dinner.
At dinner we were informed that there would be a charity event at the house on Sunday September 20th. It would be a sit down dinner for thirty couples. We children were to attend the gathering, but not the dinner or events after. We would eat our dinner in the family dining room. For once I was glad to be counted as one of the children. That helped a little when we were informed we would be in tuxedos.
On that high note I retired to my room and read about gray leathers which sounded more attractive than a penguin suit.
I was up a littler earlier than normal, well half an hour, so I was able to do my morning exercises and run, while still be cleaned up and dressed for the day as I joined the rest of the family for breakfast.
Mary was bubbling over about school. She couldn’t wait to get there and say Hi to all the scared little girls. She was going to help them and they would be her friends. She couldn’t wait!
Eddie asked her about what she was going on about so she explained, Ricks way of making friends. She just knew it would work. You could see the wheels turning in Eddie’s head so maybe he would give it a try. Denny who was a high and mighty junior high student paid it no mind.
Dad asked me my plans for the day, was I going surfing.
“I don’t think so Dad. I now understand what I need to do. There is no plan for me to be a world class surfer; they just don’t want me to look stupid on a board. Three times a week for the next three months should get me there easy. I have the basics down, so now it is repetition and learning to read the waves.
Denny being a typical junior high student asked, “How do you read waves, are they in English.”
I treated it as a serious question.
“I know the theory but not the actual practice. There are three main types of waves, reef break, point break and beach break. They are waves breaking just like they sound. Breaking over a reef like the Pipeline, breaking over a point of land like Rincon, or breaking over a plain beach like Ehuki Beach in Hawaii.
The best quality for a showy ride is a reef because the break hard and fast. The point break wave is a long smooth ride. The beach break is short, steep and powerful. They give the longest tube ride, so I suspect that is what they will shoot in Hawaii.
“What’s a tube ride?”
“It is the showiest surfing picture. You start at the peak of a wave and try to get ahead of the wave by going over the leading edge, the lip. The idea is surf down the front wall of the wave and be under the falling lip, you move across the wall as the wave falls, so it looks like you are in a tube. If you get too far ahead of the wave and get to the bottom or the trough the wave will fall on you and wipe you out.”
“These make the most dramatic camera shots so I think that is what we will be doing. Other things that effect how a wave moves are the wind and tide. So while I know the words I don’t know the reality of doing it.”
“Huntington Beach is a classic beach break and has more consistent waves than anywhere else in California so that is why we are practicing there.”
“What’s a wipe out?”
I think the little bugger knew about a wipe out, and was just trying to cause trouble.
“That’s where the wave tips you over and you then have to retrieve your board and start all over.” I wasn’t about to say, oh yeah it could also brain me with a ten foot board and I could drown. I didn’t think Mum and Dad needed to hear that.
Dad spoke up, “There is a rare chance that the board could flip around and hit Rick in the head, leading to bad problems, but overall it is safer than driving on the free-way.”
“Jack, if the freeway is that unsafe should Rick be driving?”
This was spinning out of control quickly.
“Peg, that is a good point.”
That’s when I realized that I had been had by my parents. I shook my head and stood up from the table.
“What I am going to do today is see about flying lessons, so I don’t have to drive on those dangerous freeways.”
Mary asked, “Rick will you fly me to school, so I don’t have to be on those dangerous freeways.”
“Sure thing squirt.”
Mum and Dad were looking at each other with a, what have we started look?
“Have a good first day of school guys and doll, I am out of here.” Now that was time well spent!
I had looked in the yellow pages and found the nearest airport with flight instruction was at the Santa Monica Airport. I drove over there to the offices of a company that advertised in the phone book, but they were out of business. I stopped at a restaurant, The Hump to get a cup of coffee and to borrow their yellow pages.
While the waitress was bringing my coffee I heard two people talking about the airport. Apparently the local residents didn’t want the airport around them because of noise at night and the danger of crashes. They had all sorts of requests in front of the city council. If they had their way the airport would be closed and made into parkland. Not even industry would satisfy them.
They hadn’t allowed the runway to be lengthened in 1958 driving McDonald Douglas away, and in the process losing forty four thousand jobs to Long Beach. Whatever makes them happy I guess, I just knew that this area would be more trouble than it was worth to get flying lessons.
Ontario California had a small airfield. It was further than I had planned on driving. It was close to Cucamonga of Jack Benny fame. The area was planted in grapes which I don’t think would be concerned about aircraft noise.
It took me an hour to get there, but it was worth the trip. It didn’t look like I thought it should would. I expected a small dusty airport with a short runway, several hangers, a broken down looking office building with a windsock on a pole on top of the roof. There would be no control tower.
It was very different than I imagined. It was the Ontario International Airport with commercial service daily to Las Vegas by Western Airlines and Bonanza Airlines. There were two, what looked like to me long runways. Later I was to learn the east/west runway was 6,200 feet and the northeast/southwest runway 4700 feet. There was a nice control tower, plus a small terminal building, about a dozen small hangers and several office buildings.
When I pulled onto the airport grounds, I saw a sign pointed to flight lessons so I must be in the right place. I followed several arrows to a small building with a sign, Flying Lessons.
Inside was a small office whose desk was overflowing with paperwork. Behind the desk was a wizened looking man dressed in jeans, a plaid shirt wearing a funny looking leather jacket with a patch, the patch had a tiger with wings. It was really too hot for a jacket. It must have been over one hundred outside. There was no air conditioning, only a fan blowing back and forth.
“Kin I help you,” He asked.
“I would like to see about flying lessons.”
“I can’t take on anyone working for their lesson’s, I need the cash, up front.”
“That’s okay. I will pay cash up front. That said; I don’t know what I have to do to learn to fly and get a license.”
“You know how much it will cost? It could run into the hundreds of dollars.”
Rather than play twenty questions, I pulled a wad of money out of my pants pocket.
“Two hundred dollars.”
I counted it out and handed it to him.
“Let me get you a receipt.”
“How about a handshake instead?”
“I like your style kid. I’m Bill McGarry.”
He extended a hand and gave a firm shake.
“Really nice to meet you Rick, I was sitting here wondering how I would pay my rent this month. You have saved me.”
That stopped me for a moment. Rent this month? What if he had no more students, would he go out of business and leave me high and dry. Maybe this handshake wasn’t such a good idea.
“Uh, glad I saved you, what about next month?”
“All I had to do was get through the next ten days, after that I have a contract kick in with Bonanza Airlines to start a new batch of pilots, that will keep me going for another two years.”
“Good, you had me scared for a moment.”
“Sorry about that, now my method of teaching isn’t the same as others. I believe in learning as you are flying. We will have you soloing and flying your friends in no time.”
“How old do you have to be?”
“No problem there, only seventeen.”
“I will be sixteen in October.”
“No kidding! I would have pegged you at twenty or so. Well that slows things down but we can get your flight lessons out of the way and soloing. Why aren’t you in school?”
“I’m on a study program with the studio I work for.”
“So you’re that Rick Jackson, my granddaughter will want to meet you.”
I knew better to ask him how old she was, and if she was good looking.
“Now what do I have to do to start.”
“Read a bunch of stuff.” At that he opened a filing cabinet. From his desk I expected a mess. In fact it had neatly labelled folders. The surprise at the neatness must have shown on my face, as he said, “Granddaughter.”
The thick folder he gave me contained forms I needed to fill out and study material. Among them were some that made sense such as, Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Airplane Flying Handbook. But what was the Weight-Shift Control Flying Handbook all about?
“Now when can you come out to start your lessons? We can have you ready to solo in fifty or sixty hours of classroom and flying instruction.
“I can do Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, plus a Saturday or Sunday afternoon if needed.”
“Let’s start with Tuesday and Thursday, four hour sessions. Each session will be a combination of classroom and flying. We can’t do four hours today, but I would like to get you up into the air.”
“Works for me, let’s go.”
And that is what we did.
He took me up in a Cessna 172 which was a fairly new aircraft, which looked like it had been flown a lot; at least from the worn upholstery. This was a different experience than I had as a passenger in larger aircraft. I could tell we were flying.
Mr. McGarry let me take the controls and do some simple turns and ups and downs. He talked me through everything. He took over as we landed, but even then he talked me through each step.
There was no question I was going to be a pilot!
I was still bubbling over at dinner. I gave the family a quick update of my day and small adventure. Mary wanted to know if I could fly her to school tomorrow. I had to tell her I couldn’t fly other people until I was 17.
“But Rick I will be old and out of school by then!”
“Well you may still be in college. How was your day, did you meet any new friends?” Hopefully that would distract her.
“Yes! Your idea really worked, there are six of us and the teachers have already given our group a name. They call us the Brat Pack.”
I hoped I never met them.
Eddie joined in, “I tried it, and met three other guys that seem nice.”
I looked at Denny. “Did you meet any guys that way?”
He looked down a little and said, “I didn’t try it with any guys, but I did get two cute girls phone numbers.”
Dad snorted and Mum shook her head. I think I saw another gray hair sprout, but didn’t mention it.
The boys had some homework, Mary some sort of a project that involved popsicle-sticks and glue. Mum helped with that.
I dove into my new aviation material and that was how a peaceful day at Jackson house ended.
Wednesday was clear and bright, in other words normal. My run was fun, I tried a new route. It went into an area with even steeper ravines than the main path. I was running on a particularly steep bit of trail. Since I was going uphill I naturally slowed down.
Slowing down is probably what allowed me to hear a weak, “Help.”
Not certain that I really heard anything I stopped. It came again.
“Help me please.”
Looking down into the ravine I saw a person at the bottom. I worked my way down a fifty-foot embankment to the person. At the bottom holding her ankle was an attractive young lady. She was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt so it was obvious that she had been out running.
She was bleeding from a lot of surface cuts. None of them looked serious but overall there was a lot of blood.
“Help me please, I can’t stand on this ankle. It might be broken.”
“Let’s see if we can walk you out here, by moving down the ravine. There is no way you could get up this hill side.”
We tried but even with me supporting her she couldn’t use that leg. I picked her up in my arms and started carrying her. Fortunately, she wasn’t that heavy, maybe one hundred pounds. I had lifted enough I could estimate her weight, not that it mattered. I was getting her to safety.
She put her arms around my neck.
“My name is Veronica Beckham but I prefer Ronnie, what is yours?”
“Rick,” I puffed out. She may not be heavy and I may be strong, but this was tough territory.
Luckily the sides of the ravine dropped quickly. About a hundred yards down the sides were shallow enough that I could carry her out of it. As we came back onto the path a couple came running up the trail. They looked to be in their early thirties and very fit.
They stopped as they came up to us, so I explained the problem. They quickly offered their help. As we were walking they introduced themselves as Tom and Susan Simpson. They had a car at the nearest trailhead and would drive Ronnie to the emergency room.
Tom even helped carry Ronnie for a ways. She may be little, but it adds up!
I was hoping there would be a pay phone near their car, but no luck.
I helped get Ronnie into their car, after that I excused myself.
“Ronnie you are in good hands here. I have an appointment so have to take off, are you okay with that?”
“Certainly, Rick thank you for your help.”
I turned around and took off, just as I was getting into the woods I heard.
“I didn’t even get his full name!”
Oh well, good deed for the day done.
At breakfast Dad asked me how my run went, I told him just fine. No sense in opening up a discussion on my actions this morning. It was no big deal.
Dad reminded me that I hadn’t talked to Susan Wallace my publicist or John Baxter my entertainment agent.
The first thing I did after breakfast was call and make appointments with both of them. Then I had to hustle to pick up Fred and get to the beach.
Fred was getting excited about going to Hawaii for the movie, especially the surfing part. He had a good point, it might be fun to shoot the pier at Huntington and Malibu, plus walking the nose at Rincon, but Hawaii sounded so cool.
At that moment if we could grab our boards and a woody we would have been ready to go for it, though the woody would sink about five feet off shore. Maybe we could paddle it out past Santa Catalina with a guitar. Yes, we were being silly.
From there we speculated about the surfing in Peru, Australia and South Africa. We had heard talk about all those places.
It was as usual a nice day at the beach. I caught a couple of good waves and a lot of rays. I was lucky in that I didn’t burn easily. I just got darker and darker all the time.
Mum had told me we had a lot of Irish in us. Family legend was that Spanish sailors washed ashore from the Spanish Armada gave birth to the Black Irish, and that I was a descendant from them. My black hair supported that theory. Whether or not it was true, I had no idea, it sounded good though.
Dads, contention was that there was some Shawnee Indian in the family mix. My cheek bones were higher than normal; so maybe that was it. I wondered which story would impress the girls the most. Maybe I could claim a combination?
After surfing I asked Fred if he wanted to come to the house to play pool. This time he said yes, and out of nowhere told me that penicillin was really a wonder drug. Too much information!
Fred had never been to Jackson House so he was really surprised when we had to stop at the guard house, and I signed him in. Then he saw the house. To say he was shocked was an understatement.
“Rick, your family lives in this castle?”
“It’s not a castle, though if you want to be technical it was modeled on Kohl house near San Francisco which in turn was modeled on a palace in England.”
“Oh excuse me. I’m not up on the differences between a palace and a castle.”
“One is fortified and the other isn’t.”
“Oh. I should have guessed a knight would live somewhere like this.”
“Don’t make too big a deal about it. My Mum doesn’t want us to forget our roots.”
About that time a limo pulled in. Mary was being brought home from her half day of kindergarten.
“Yeah I can see you are sticking to your roots.” Since he said it with a laugh and a smile it was okay.
I took him in the formal front door. Hey, I was proud of our house and wanted to show it off.
Dad wasn’t home but Mum was in the library with Anna and Sharon along with several other ladies. I tried to sneak us by but she spotted me. I had to take Fred in and do the introductions all around. Apparently they were talking about Sharon’s new charity project.
I really didn’t catch the ladies names, but I did remember one was a Douglas and the other two Knight and Brown. I wondered what their husbands did. They would have to be heavy hitters to be in this group.
Mrs. Douglas seemed to be interested in meeting me. She told me that her husband Donald had mentioned me when he heard she was coming to Jackson House. I had no idea who he could be so made a few polite noises and ran for it. They were talking dinner plans, not something a fifteen almost sixteen year-old wanted to be near.
I had to tell Fred what was going on. His only question was, “Who is the Vis-Countess Jackson?”
“Oh that is Mum.”
He surrendered at that point and quit talking about my roots. Maybe I should show him our invitation to the White House.
I showed Fred my room which resulted in a lot of wows. A trip up the elevator to the top of the tower was nifty. He asked why I was going to the beach. I could catch all the rays up here I needed. Even without a suit if I wanted. I don’t think so.
We then took the elevator to the basement and played pool for several hours. His playing was just a little better than mine so we had fun. Mrs. Hernandez sent a maid down with a plate full of snacks and several Cokes so we were in pig heaven.
Fred had to kid me about not forgetting our roots. I took it in good stride because he was right, but not being mean about it. I told him that if he worked hard, he too could live this lifestyle. Oh yes, and have a ton of luck.
I took him home before dinner. The meal itself was quiet, other than Mary telling us about her new friends. She had invited a group over on Saturday, so I thought I would try to make myself scarce. The boys answered the questions with okay, and alright, and boring, so all was good with them.
When I retired to my room for the night I sat on the sofa and read a short story that was listed in my English homework. Personally I thought the story completely overrated. I would have fired Nippers and Turkey for their bickering and thrown the other guy out instead of letting him live there. This was one story where I elected to write as short of an essay as I could in response to the questions in the text. They didn’t have drugs for depression in those days, I did check on electro-shock therapy, but it wasn’t available then. Anyway I found the story to be depressing in itself, with no point in it even being written.
My morning run was not as eventful as yesterdays, which was a good thing. My weight workout had plateaued which was fine by me. I didn’t need a spotter as I wasn’t trying to up weights or bulk up. I was more concerned about keeping my core strength up and having a toned look, without looking like a muscle bound weight lifter.
I had seen guys down at the beach in Venice who actually looked deformed to me, as they had bulked up so much.
At breakfast Dad asked me my plans for the day. I told him I had flying lessons in the afternoon but that my morning was free. He suggested that I use the morning to visit my office staff since I had never been there.
That seemed like a good idea, and I kicked myself for not thinking of it on my own. What sort of businessman was I that I didn’t even show interest in those working for me?
I hit the books hard half the morning. First it was school work, then flying ground school. Since I didn’t know what was expected the first day I had surveyed all of the course work, I had been given. At least now I had an idea of what I needed to learn.
Today I actually started to study the material, starting with the Aeronautical Knowledge book. It was well written but very dry. Since I owned these books I underlined items and wrote in the margins.
I had never done that before, in public school it was death to write in your book so I had never tried it before. That even carried over to all the books I had bought to study at home. The world is changing! Who ever thought I could write in books.
Next thing you know I would be allowed to throw away my soda bottles and not return them. Dream on.
I was immersed in my work and Mum came in and reminded me that I had mentioned going to my office and an appointment with Susan Wallace for lunch. It was at a small sidewalk café next to my office.
I put on a blue sport coat over my polo shirt and was good to go. I didn’t want to come across as too high and mighty during my first visit, but did want a professional look. For California this was professional.
There weren’t any parking spots along the street; in front of Dad’s building so I drove around the back to see if there was parking there. There was plenty of parking but what caught my eye was the spot with the sign, Reserved for Richard Jackson.
I usually wasn’t impressed by most things that were indications that I wasn’t your normal teenager. For some reason, seeing my name on a parking sign made me feel special. I felt special until I went to open the backdoor and found it to be locked. There was no bell to ring and no window in the door, so I had to walk around to the front public entrance. Yep, I’m special.
In the front lobby there was a sign indicating the offices of Jackson Enterprises were on the second floor. Ignoring the elevator I took the steps two at a time.
The second floor foyer was the waiting room for my offices. There was a desk with a receptionist. I noticed there was a young man sitting in a chair reading a book. From the cover I could tell it was by E.M. Forrester. My kind of guy!
Anyway the receptionist a middle aged woman said, “Good morning Sir.”
I started to introduce myself, but she had got up and opened the door to the offices for me.
As I was going into the office I heard the young man ask, “Who is that?”
“A visitor,” was the terse reply.
Once I was inside the office I had no idea where to turn. This was resolved immediately by another young man who introduced himself as my accountant. He took me around the office and introduced me to the half dozen people who comprised my business staff; it was so many, so quick that I had the names and titles confused.
Still I spent my time going around with them and getting an update on what each was doing. Without really understanding everything they were telling me, I made positive sounds of appreciation. It final filtered through to me that they were keeping a running summary for me of each division’s status including its finances.
Each person had their own office. They were a mixed bag of men and women of different ages. I asked my accountant, I had forgotten his name and was now to embarrassed to tell him that I forgot it.
Someone called him Jim, so I went with that. He looked to be in his early thirties so it didn’t bother me to call him by his first name. I asked Jim if there was any place I could talk to everyone at once.
He promptly had everyone go into the conference room. I asked if the receptionist could come in. While she was joining us someone asked if I wanted any coffee. I really liked this group already.
Once we were all settled with coffee, tea or soft drinks in hand I started.
“As you know my name is Richard Jackson, please call me Richard, Rick or even Ricky. The next one who calls me Sir Richard will have to put a quarter in the coffee fund jar I noticed in the break area.”
This brought out some smiles so I must have been on the right track.
“As a matter of fact why is there a coffee fund jar in the first place. That should be charged to petty cash. That is to include all the drinks, not just coffee.”
Now I had a room full of smiles. Since I saw Jim making a note I figured it would happen.
“Now in the first few minutes of my visit I realized that I should have been here sooner and more often. My question to the group is how often should I come in?”
They looked at each other and a few small conversations broke out. I let it go on for a few minutes. Finally a forty year old woman spoke up for the group.
“If you could stop by once a week for an hour we will be able to update you on each division.”
“Which day will be best?”
“That’s it then, I will be here at one o’clock every Friday if I am in town for a business update. We will have to figure out how to handle it starting the first of the year, as I will be in Hawaii on a film shoot. Is there anything else?”
The woman whose name I now remembered was Janet, almost blushed as she asked, “Could I get your autograph for my daughter?”
That gave me a thought. I asked our receptionist to call the studio and have them send over a stack of unsigned photos. I planned to sign them and pass them out to any who desired them.
That led to another thought. Turning to Jim, who was the default office manager.
“Jim, we need to have our first Christmas party. Will you get a planning group together?”
“I will be glad to, will it be just for the office workers or are spouses included?”
“Make it for the whole family. There are only a few of us so I think we can afford it.”
“How about a budget?” Leave it to the accountant to think of that.
“Start at five hundred dollars and see what you can come up with.”
From the look on his face I think my budget was about ten times what he thought it should be. From that I decided to hold my thoughts on a Christmas bonus until later. Maybe until I found out if my companies were actually making any money.
From the easy atmosphere I felt like my first visit to my office had been a success. I did remember to ask Jim about a key to the backdoor.
“Oh, that is on your keyring in your office.”
Instead of answering he took me too a corner office that looked out the front of the building. It was the biggest office I had ever been in, and that included the studio offices. I had a massive wooden desk, there were several chairs in front of it, in one corner there was a sofa and several chairs set up around a coffee table.
Opposite those was a conference table that had eight chairs around it. There was a wet bar set up with a hot plate for a coffee pot, with the littlest refrigerator I had ever seen. There was even some art work on the walls, but I didn’t take a good look at it. Some of it was pretty bright and totally impressionistic; I didn’t know how I felt about that. They were signed by some guy who called himself a polock, which didn’t seem cool.
A door at one side of the room opened to a private restroom which even had a shower. I realized if I slept on the sofa I could live in this room.
“Who did all this?”
“Your mother, and two friends, someone said that they were Anna Romanov and Sharon Bronson, but I don’t see how that could be.”
“Trust me, it was them, my Mum and they are in business together and thick as thieves.”
“You mean those famous ladies were in here! The office is going to die when I tell them. They missed a chance of a lifetime to get Miss Romanov’s autograph and the younger set will feel the same way about Miss Bronson.”
And I thought I talked a little too formal at times.
“Maybe we can invite them to our Christmas party.” Changing the subject, since I was afraid Jim might have a stroke.
“Who is that young man sitting in the lobby? He appears to be settled in.”
“He’s a reporter for some paper. When the office first opened we had a great many requests for interviews and a lot of reporters did camp out in the lobby. It has dwindled down to him.”
On an impulse I told Jim to bring him in. Jim introduced me to Dennis Lawson a freelancer. His goal in life was to get a story and sell it to a newspaper or magazine. A really hot story would get sold to AP or UP. From his looks he had not been at it very long.
“Dennis I understand you are the last man standing as far as waiting in my office.”
“I hope you will give me an interview so it pays off. Frankly I am running short on time and money.”
“I guess it is really about the money. I’m about broke. I’ve tried to get a job with a paper or magazine but don’t have the in’s so I haven’t connected. I decided to try freelancing, but if I don’t sell a story soon I will have to look for another trade.”
“I have some time, and I have to face this sooner or later, go ahead and ask your questions.”
That may have been a mistake because after several hours, I think he knew more about me than I did. He kept his questions about my business interests, but he wanted to know how each of them developed. He was aware of my patent on the movable shower head but not that I was a part owner in Detroit Faucet. He quickly realized that DF was manufacturer of the Anna Romanova collection. I didn’t mention Sharon Bronson going in with Anna as they had not announced it yet.
He was aware of the hairdryer and the fact it was licensed out. I did tell him about our expansion plans for the overseas market.