The Past And The Last Geezer Gathering?

In those days, when I started free-lancing as a commer­cial artist, I found that San Fran­cisco usually did not reach out to the east or to the LA area. The cool­ness of this area made it a printing center from the very early days. I found, that all of the various services that were needed for adver­tising in the 1940s to the1970s pretty well kept to the tight group of talents within the SF Bay Area. This was before the national delivery services. Local deliv­eries were often by walking. “Aero Delivery” bicy­cles were for local rush jobs and a run to the US Post Office before closing time with pack­ages of art was the way to the outside world. Some Illus­tra­tors did mail their finished art to Chicago, NYC, and even Cleve­land. Even TV commer­cials were created here, as at Imag­i­na­tion, Inc. on Kearny Street where I had a summer job as a cell-painter for Stan­dard Oil commercial.

A lot of friend­ships grew in clubs: the Art Direc­tors and Artists of San Fran­cisco, the SF Society of Illus­tra­tors, the San Fran­cisco Copywriter’s Club, ASMP (the Amer­ican Society of Media Photog­ra­phers) and APA (Amer­ican Photog­ra­phers of America). There was also in 1958 the Society of Designers and Illus­tra­tors (that was before my time). On any street, down­town, you’d see a person that you knew – as our “Madison Ave.” was spread all around down­town San Francisco.

Sales­per­sons in the trade, knew most of the players in our industry. There were Paper Reps, Typog­raphy Reps, Printing Reps, Art Studio Reps, Art Supply Reps – – Art Flax would make personal visits.

Murray Hunt repre­sented Spartan Typog­ra­phers. Spartan’s owner, Jim McGlynn, had been to the Haas’sche Schrift­giesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of München­stein, Switzer­land and brought back the new 1957 type font – Helvetica –exclu­sive to their shop in Oakland. The type became a huge favorite – and still is –as we are using it here on this site. Murray would call on several designers in the Jackson Square area and soon there were a number of them at “Clown Alley” at lunch. (Favorite restau­rants are listed in an earlier post.) San Fran­cisco felt like “a very small ad town”, then.

The self-employed artists person­ally met most all of the ad agency art direc­tors and the various other agency personnel. In art studios, the sales persons for the studios usually were the ones who called on the clients and art direc­tors in agen­cies – unless the artist needed to meet for direct discussions.

There was also foot-traffic, after-hours. There were no in-house copy machines, no stat machines.
Top illus­tra­tors would often person­ally carry their art to the various photo-stat shops. Their support team may have left for the day and an urgent call to Copy Cats or Copy Service would keep the doors open and that stat crew waiting. (Copy Service’s, Jim Faulkner – I still owe him a drink, after all these years.) Some indi­vidual studios had a Camera Lucinda, a “Luci’“ projector for late hours or weekend work. But that was a slow process for calcu­lating size changes in prelim­i­nary work. When two art studios combined, I asked for the extra Art-O-Graph. I borrowed my mother’s car-with-hatch-back and took it away. We found our “lucI” a great asset at home, even when we already had early Apple computers. Yes, we could enlarge images on the computer screen but not up to 14”x17” paper or as enlarge­ment of smaller “thumb-nails” to be reflected onto illus­tra­tion board for tradi­tional, painted, finished art.

Unlike email, tele­phone contacts brought out a lot of the person­al­i­ties of both parties. Without the avail­ability of “attach­ments by email” there was the walk outside to deliver and show the work – in- progress, discuss and make noted adjust­ments to the job – – and possibly time it for a lunch nearby where the others with our same inter­ests, lunched.

The close working rela­tion­ships within the city – – is the reason that the GEEZERS are such tight friends, even after all these years. I found that school reunions are a wide mix if inter­ests, when fellow students go into so many different occu­pa­tions. Our Geezer reunions have locked in the same persons with the same (graphic arts) trade so all the past recol­lec­tions are familiar to many. Now (still 200 strong) we do contact our Geezers by gang-email, announcing art gallery shows, personal announce­ments and a yearly gath­ering, a picnic.

Our yearly GEEZER reunions were always in early October when the weather is usually cool. Although, the very first Gath­ering was on July 31,1993 at the Buechert prop­erty in Petaluma CA. Bob Buechert and a hand full of ad types (I don’t remember who we all, were) planned the event. Several lists from each of us were put together for mailing. We never again had such a large atten­dance. Please see the 1993 photo at the bottom of the Gath­ering list, at left on this site. (I counted 90 in the photo and then added Dick Moore who took the photo from up on the water tower and a few who might have been still at the food tables and where some “classic” cars were parked – so maybe 100?) This happened to be a weekend of the Bohemian Grove encamp­ment. Declining RSVPs came to us from their artist members. (Begin­ning in 1872, Bohemian Club meet­ings were only of jour­nal­ists, artists and musicians.)

Now in 2018 (to bring a full circle of the 20 picnics that followed) we were happy this year, to have guests: Arlene and Courtney Buechert. This year’s picnic was the last gath­ering to be held in this Corte Madera Town Park. The park wants the space in September and October for the young soccer teams. It has only been conve­nient to a small portion of our Geezers. So I am hoping that the in the future we can find multiple free and conve­nient locations.

On October 3rd, rain was possible. The Bay Area had been dry since May, but the night before our picnic it rained heavily at 10pm. Even with that, we emailed that we would be there at the park to see who could show up. At 11am, we were ready with umbrella at hand, and then the gang appeared:

Email to us after the picnic was so very kind in the thanks to us. Here is just one:
The photos are so nice, it was a lovely day and we had a nice time. Thanks also for all you have done to keep the adver­tising folks in touch with each other, that is no small task and you have made a really inter­esting group cohe­sive and together.
Four of them noted:
“Thanks for sending. Who in the hell is that old man with the long hair? I just got it cut, can we re-shoot?”
“Very sneaky. I had no idea that I was subject matter!”
“Hi Ann, thanks for the photos. We’re certainly looking geezerish.”
“Look forward to seeing the group pix. And somehow attending another Geezer’s picnic somewhere!!”
 — — —

Yes, some­where.
Ann Thompson

And Best to you Ann Thompson from all the Geezers past and present.
XO Piet Halberstadt