We each have a different lot in life. Not sure why it worked out that way. But when it comes to me, there has, from the very beginning, been a great preponderance of women in my life.
Barbara Holbert worked for our company for 21 years while Joanne Smith put in 51 years of service. Barbara worked in the classified ad department and Joanne worked as national advertising manager.
It’s funny what you remember about people once they are gone. Both of these women were extremely diligent workers and probably took fewer sick days than you could count on one hand.
It seemed no matter what time I arrived at work, they already were here. Joanne never married and probably retired with a portfolio of CDs Donald Trump would envy. That is, if she trusted a bank to hold on to the money. It would not surprise me if it was all in her trunk by day and her mattress by night.
Barbara was a watcher. She was like a sly old crocodile with a smile on her face that made you know she had a handle on everything going on in the place. Her customers loved her, particularly Ben Fitzgerald.
In my younger years, most of the managers at the company were men, but there were a bevy of women making sure things got done.
This reminder prior to Joanne’s services was particularly true because I got the treat of sitting next to one of my dears, Dorothy Bickerdike. The service was at nine and I remarked it was just like Joanne to roust everyone for an earlier than normal service.
Dorothy worked in retail advertising for more than 45 years during two different tours of duty and pretty well ran things even though she wasn’t “the boss.” When the crusty old men in the production area wouldn’t budge to break a deadline to get a late ad in the next edition, Dorothy would quietly go back and talk to the “man in charge” and persuade him to make an exception.
We giggled about Joanne’s habit of calling her national customers on their toll-free phone lines to save the company money. Whoever thought Sam Walton started such practices never met Joanne.
Joanne may not have invented the idea but used it by necessity. She had to escape the stringent purview of Italene Long, our longtime treasurer and controller.
Mrs. Long personally reviewed the long-distance usage of each department, and if someone used a company line for a personal call she would give them an invoice down to the penny to reimburse the company. Mrs. Long worked here for 69 years. That almost was as impressive as her husband’s 70-year tenure with Cotton Belt Railroad.
Most of these women treated me like their own and some eventually trained me to be their boss, if that’s really possible. I learned a lot from them and miss them all.
It makes you wonder who’s really in charge of the place now?
Guess I’ll have to go ask a few of the women.
The B.U.N.S. book club meets next at 3 p.m. Sunday at Barnes & Noble. We will discuss The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor and A Fistful of Collars. If you haven’t started by now just come to listen.