Oddments from the files of an AD’s log book.
I was working for Botsford, Constantine and McCarty, soon to become Botsford, Ketchum. We just moved into a building near Market Street. I think it was called The Jones bldg. but not sure. The time was around 1968ish. I think we were at this new location for about three or four months and we were getting comfortable with new spaces. We were located on the 8th or 9th floor as I remember it. On a Friday afternoon about 4:30 everyone was winding down for the weekend. The art directors we’re putting away their Magic Markers scattered all over in their office along with ellipse guides, numerous triangles, French curves, T‑squares and all the other “stuff” that proclaimed them as art directors. Without the stuff, you ain’t no art director. If you didn’t have the stuff, they would call you a creative director or an account guy something. (One time a writer came into the art department and said, “The only reason you guys have a job as art directors is because you have all the STUFF”)… and looking back, I think he might have been right.
The illustrator that did the sketch was Dick Brown In Seattle. I really liked his work, nice and loose. He caught the character of each person really well. I noticed everyone ended up with huge hands, however. I guess that was kind of his style.
Anyway, as I was finishing the organization process, Brian Barnes walks into my office and points to a salmon fishing pole I had been using for a prop for an Olympia Beer photo. He asks, how do you cast with those level-wind reels? I said, you just need to keep your thumb over the line as the reel is spinning while the line is playing out. When the bait is near the water, you stop the spin with your thumb so you don’t get a backlash of line if the reel is still spinning. Well, it was late Friday so I said, here, I’ll give you a demonstration. Open the window. (We had really big windows that you could still open). I put a Pink Pearl eraser on the end of the line for a little weight and cast it out the window. The line sailed out over the street below in a beautiful arc and I stopped the reel with my thumb. The Pink Pearl stopped mid air and gracefully swung back and bounced off the building wall for another show of ballet like motion. That was impressive but it needed just a little more weight to show Brian how a proper cast really looks. We asked the guys who were loitering near my office if they had anything for a weight and they came up with a plastic chicken from a BBQ display sample for Olympia Beer. A little large but the right weight. We fixed the line to the plastic chicken and cast again. The chicken flew straight and true and was soaring high above the busy street below. A beautiful sight to see. A chicken flying high over Wells Fargo for a few seconds and then slowly arcing down to take on the speed of something that resembled a raptor. The chicken/raptor swung back to hit the building wall and again bounce back for a final show of aerobatics. Now, the last cast was so good, much more line was released and the chicken was now very low above the busy sidewalk. I would estimate it to be maybe about 4 to 8 feet above the people below. The clear fishing line was almost invisible and now it appears like this BBQ’d plastic chicken is levitating just a few feet above all the pedestrians… but no one notices. Quite a sight. As we were reeling up the chicken, someone in one of offices below had an umbrella out the window, trying to snag the chicken but we successfully avoided the kidnap attempt and retrieved the chicken. At that point it became more than just a lesson in casting so we wrote a note on a post-it that stated “PLEASE IGNORE THE CHICKEN.” We carefully lowered the chicken back to the kidnapers window, the umbrella came out again and the chicken was rudely was pulled inside. Well, we just lost our chicken. They didn’t ignore it as instructed. After a few minutes the line was released with a new note attached. We reeled it back up and the note read: “WHAT CHICKEN ?” The next day Herb Caen wrote in his column about a levitating chicken of unknown origin was spotted across from Wells Fargo. I kept the article but lost it years ago. Maybe I can find it in the Chron.‘s archive sometime.