Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Magnum P.I. & The Pompano Shopper

I came to Fort Lauderdale in October of 1982. We arrived on a Monday, I got a manicure on Tuesday, had a job interview on Wednesday and went to work on Thursday morning. I'd worked for newspapers before, most recently for the Key West Citizen, the "only daily newspaper published in Monroe County." I was good at my job and I knew it, so it was easy to impress the "creative director" with my mastery of the equipment, especially a Compugraphic typesetter they had that, apparently, no one else knew how to use. (And, lest you think me vain, I was not. It was the one thing I knew really well and I knew I knew it really well. It may have been the ONLY thing I knew really well.) So ... I went to work for the Pompano Shopper.

The photograph, above, was taken in December 1982, and I recently found it while rummaging through an old photo album. (I'm the one in the middle holding up two "devil" fingers behind Valerie's head.) Boy! Did it bring back memories! Mostly memories of my relationship with Magnum P.I.

The Pompano Shopper's plant was housed in a warehouse west of a yet undeveloped Sample Road. With 40-foot ceilings to accommodate the web presses, the "Art Department" was located in the northwest corner of the building with a 10-foot drywall around it. The long back wall was a row of artist's desks where each of us composed ad upon ad touting "Sales" and "Lowest Price In Town." There was a regular and rhythmic banter of conversations going on throughout the day among the young women working there. I may have been the oldest at 32, except for our director, Jo Allen, who was in her fifties and her assistant, also 'middle aged.'

The tall wall above my desk served as a display area for my Tom Selleck poster (above). In 1982, "Magnum P.I." was a hot TV show and I considered myself to be a devoted fan, often claiming I would leave my husband for him in a heartbeat!

Every Friday, Jo Allen held a "staff meeting." With so many young women working for her, it was the only way she could maintain control as there were frequently (and, often) "personality clashes." The Friday meetings gave everyone a forum to file complaints and clear the air and, for Jo Allen, keep the peace in the art department. So, at one of these meetings, Jo Allen's assistant, Barbara, who had just returned from a trip to Europe, clutched a large brown envelope and said she had something to share.

So, here we all are, sitting around in a big circle, our attention focused on Barbara as she begins to tell her story of an evening out while she was in London. She and a gentleman friend were having dinner in the White Elephant Restaurant on the Thames River and who should come in and sit down at the table next to her and her friend but Tom Selleck and his agent. MY Tom Selleck!

Knowing how I love him, Barbara said she wanted to approach him, but felt it was just good manners to wait until they had finished their dinner. Which she did. Then, she said, she struck up a conversation with him and introduced herself, telling Tom Selleck, "There's a girl I work with who just absolutely adores you ..." and she said she told him about my poster and my fantacism ...

She went on to talk about how charming he was and very, very nice. And, then she said she asked him if she could get his autograph.

Now, at this point, I am hyperventilating, thinking "Oh! I'm going to get to see his handwriting and touch someone who's touched him!"

Barbara continued, saying she was looking through her bag for something for Tom Selleck to write on when the waiter offered a White Elephant Restaurant menu. She slowly and very deliberately took her time removing the menu from the brown envelope she'd been holding. I remember holding my breath and imagining what it must've been like to sit in an elegant restaurant RIGHT NEXT TO HIM!

She held the creme colored menu up for all of us to see and there, on the front cover, just below a line drawing of an elephant and the type "White Elephant Restaurant" was the signature.
It read:
for Constance
Tom Selleck

I nearly fainted. No one had ever given me such a wonderful gift! I was utterly speechless and that day, Barbara became my best friend!

I left the Pompano Shopper a year later to go work for an ad agency, but to this day, the photograph of us and the menu (which was later stolen; but that's another story) are cherished by me. Wherever you are, Barbara ... Thank You, again!

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