Oddments

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.

Bill Stewart