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