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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 • Posted December 8, 2010

The ‘Reddest’ of Faces…

Books about famous people flood the market this time of year. We of like minds, even if several floors below the one marked "rocket science," understand the marketing ploy.

Folks feel a bit "richer" during Christmas—the season for giving. Why wouldn’t popular literary works hit the shelves about now? Why wouldn’t authors bump into each other coming and going to book signings? And why wouldn’t prospective buyers camp out hours before store opening times when world-recognized figures with pens poised are eager to affix their names to highly-publicized books?

The length of some lines rivals those of eager folks waiting for Super Bowl tickets, rock concerts and "Black Friday" specials featuring the "lowest prices ever," or at least since last year….

* * * * *

Never mind that few of them "tell all." Most, in fact, tell but a little, but bait us with enough juiciness for another book later.

For most folks, Brylcreem’s claim in early TV ads a half century ago, fits: "Little dabs will do us."

And, what we don’t know usually won’t hurt us, or render us significantly deprived….

* * * * *

I wish I knew more about the life of H. Roe Bartle, arguably one of the most effective and colorful mayors of all time. They called him "chief," this Kansas City figure who served as the city’s mayor from 1955-1963.

"Beloved" seems to be a fitting description for a captivating speaker and extraordinary humanitarian whose hallmark was public service, particularly in scouting.

As his mayoral years dwindled, he joked about others’ best-selling books that warmed hearts, calmed fears, elicited patriotism, and, of course, sold millions. Upon retirement, he claimed, there’d be time to write memoirs. "Sales may be in the dozens," he deadpanned. "But I’ll guarantee that several hundred people will be leaving Kansas City."…

* * * * *

If "druthers" could be granted, I’d like to read versions of long-serving public servants’ lives as viewed by those who know them best.

No, not spouses, or other close kin, but administrative assistants, the kind who are both long-serving and long-suffering, in their daily grind of smoothing out bumps in the road for their bosses.

As one such person put it, "My boss rarely encounters obstacles he doesn’t trip over."…

* * * * *

One aide of my acquaintance served a well-known public figure in Washington, DC, for more than 20 years.

Their names will not be used, since both are still living.

And the assistant may yet want letters of reference from his former boss….

* * * * *

My friend confirmed his employer’s dependence on others to remember names of constituents, particularly when the official was the featured speaker for large groups.

This became more important, my friend claimed, when his boss reached years marked by diminished eyesight and heightened vanity.

He recalled a specific example when his boss addressed a convention of realtors. Buoyed by thunderous applause, he encased his spectacles and headed for the door to shake hands with his well-wishers….

* * * * *

My friend, delayed by a phone call, raced to the door, where handshakes were already in progress.

He was stunned when his boss referred to three consecutive attendees as "Red" as he shook their paws. "The first one was bald, but I figured he perhaps had red hair back in the day," the aide said. "The second’s hair was shoe-polish black, perhaps a dye job over red locks. But the third was a little old lady, with streaks of purple in a coiffure of deep gray."

He interrupted his boss, whispering his disbelief that the names of three consecutive constituents would be "Red."…

* * * * *

"I thought the same thing," the politico agreed. "But I couldn’t argue with their lapel name badges."

My friend smiled, surveying the large contingent of representatives from Red Carpet Realtors.

Perhaps he should write a book. I tried, but mine turned out to be the kind that if you put ‘em down, you can’t pick ‘em up….

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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