I probably could have lived anywhere besides Harriman. I mean Waverly, Tennessee was nice and I have a lot of memories from that time, even went to school there for over three years, but I guess it was because we did not have to bury anyone there.
The truth is I settled in Harriman because I went to school there for six years, including my last two in high school, buried my dad there, married a girl with life long roots there, got my first jobs there, and my mother retired there.
One day you just wake up and you realize that this is where you will also die. Nothing will make you move from the familiarity of it all, or the relationships you have intertwined into life.
Oh, there was a time I wanted to leave, and had my first wife not had her roots deep into family and the area, we would have left and probably ended up in
During my senior year at UT, the
The top advertising agencies in the United States has offices in Atlanta, and in those days the top two were Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), of Alka Seltzer and Volkswagen fame, and McCann-Erickson, of Coca-Cola fame!
I instantly wanted to work for McCann-Erickson, because in my view it was such a laid back and creative environment. To me, it appeared that the account people just sat around in this big room and brainstormed ideas. All around the room were red and white Coke creations (signs, print ads, coolers, etc.) they had come up with and I wanted to be a part of that so much.
I knew I had what it would take to be creative mentally, but after a few of the copy writers explained how tough the business was, I had second thoughts. Some of the agency people talked about working for 2 or 3 agencies during the course of a single year, while others said they had been working on the same product, but had just walked across the street when the account changed agencies! It began to sound like a dog-eat-dog world, and a voice whispered “you had better be good if you want to survive here.”
Nonetheless, the big ad agency was what I had my heart set on!
The wino grabbed my arm and demanded money. I was scared out of my wits and my entourage just kept walking, leaving me to deal with the situation. I jerked my arm a couple of times and it was obvious he was not letting go, so, always quick to mentally work my way out of a situation, I reached into my pocket for some change. I was shocked to find that I only had a nickel! I was doomed, I thought if I handed it to him. Therefore, the smart thing to do was to flip the coin into the air. The drunk released his grip and cupped his hands and ran away to get under the coin.
Meanwhile, I had already caught up with the cowardly crowd and moved on down the street. Bastards never said a word or looked back.
Quick thinking would also save me from an even nastier scene years later!
Suffice it say, we did not move to
I finished school, still living with my in-laws, and took an advertising sales job with The Roane County NEWS in
There was little glamour in the job, but it paid $200 a week, provided me with transportation, and gave me little moments of creativity genius to satisfy me.
Looking back, had the job paid more, or had provided better insurance, I might still be there plugging away with my pencil and layout pad, and my 35mm camera, shooting football games on Friday nights, and attending local community events shaking hands and smiling superficially. Who knows, I may have even become an editor and/or part owner, with a bottle of creativity down in my bottom drawer.
However, I know one thing, I would not be retired now…if ever.