Saturday, 9 February 2019

Wayne Walker, Ann (Ames) Kay, Owen McBride,

FaceBook has brought another former AJ employee into my life after only 27 years this time. Somehow Wayne Walker's posts found their way to my Newsfeed and I was reading about his travels,  but mostly about his absolute love of family. He was emphatic in his love and attachment to his grandchildren, wife and sons. His vacations have been filled with world wide experiences whereby his family has been a large part of their success and enjoyment. All of this, and my memory of a young man working in AJ's bindery, a young man who wanted to be a salesman, led to his start in sales because Duncan and I liked his chances for success.
We texted a few messages back and forth and set a date of February 7, 2019 for a luncheon at Cactus Club Cafe.
I was twenty minutes early and Wayne was ten minutes early. One of the first things he said was that, "One must always be early, or at the very worst, on time for an appointment."
We exchanged greetings with a man hug and he asked the waitress for a bigger table (not the two seater they had given me). We got comfortable and Wayne jumped in and told me what had been his focus such as vacations, family and the printing business that had brought success and financial gains that he was very proud of. [I was thrilled to hear that he hit his stride in sales after a ten year period at AJ.] I was almost silent as he spun his story: a fascinating one to be sure. He thanked Duncan and myself for paying the fee for the "Dale Carnegie Course." I'd forgotten that, and other aspects of his time at AJ. We (I) talked about my current lifestyle and then we talked about our time at AJ. Of course Wayne wanted to know about the Clark Litho aspect regarding the final closing of Arthurs-Jones Lithographing; that was after Duncan and I had been out and in retirement for several years. Some of this information he had known, and some he didn't. There were good and bad times, as there always is, and we parted after two hours and promised to meet again. Wayne would like it to be with his wife, Terryl and me the next time.

Ann Ames and I met in business; she a designer and me a printer. We helped launch Roots, a retailer of clothing on to the Canadian market with a beautifully produced catalogue. I am going to write it here, perhaps I shouldn't but I must. When the invoice to Roots was overdue I called and was told that they planned on paying us the full amount, but only in twelve equal payments over the next twelve months. Somehow that wasn't part of the original negotiation, and I've never forgot or forgiven the oversight. Moreover, I've never purchased a thing from Roots in fourty years. They have done exceedingly well without printing or purchases from AJ or me.
Ann and I enjoyed working together for many years. If memory serves I introduced her to Grant McDiarmaid of Fiberglas Canada. That union was exemplary and many good things happened over the years that followed. (I am not entirely certain of who introduced whom; perhaps Ann's recollections will help.)
Again, on Facebook, a mutual friend brought us together (Willie Gomez). I have an invitation for coffee on the table for the week of February 18, 2019. I look forward to seeing her again.
[We're having lunch this week on Thursday in Cabbagetown just down the street where my buddy John Culliton used to live.]
George and Ann met me at the door and guided me into the kitchen where we coffee'd and talked for two hours. She had the same experience with Roots as did we at AJ (12 equal payments over 12 months to settle an account receivable) which rankled me then and still does to this very day. But, the rest of our time was spent talking about the demise of our industry into Who can do it the fastest, Who can do it the cheapest, but never who can do it the best (which was the difference AJ and Ann Ames Design was built on). Most importantly, we talked about the characters we had met and worked with, thoroughly enjoyed, and lived with in our time.
Ann and George are happily retired and sailing away during Ontario's wonderful summertime.
This was a fabulous visit and one we hope to repeat this summer at Heather Cooper's museum and home in Southern Ontario.
On August 17, 2019 Terryl, Willie Gomez and I spent the most pleasant of days at Heather Cooper's Studio in Baltimore Ontario. Beside seeing some of Canada's magnificent art, all created by Heather Cooper, Ann Ames and other notable artists, we were treated to wine, delightful food and lively conversation to our great pleasure for several hours.

Owen McBride called me with bad news that I had earlier heard from Len Hughes; it was the tragic news of Grant McDiarmaid's untimely death. Owen was one of our close knit group that included Dean, Ann, Len and Herb, all suppliers to Fiberglas Canada, all directed by Grant with the exception of Len who was the CFO for Fiberglas. We gave our time, talent, energy and expertise with gusto to meet his pursuits in managing the Advertising and Marketing departments at Fiberglas. And he rewarded us with plenty of assignments: Dean, Ann and Owen divided the creative artwork and AJ printed it.
Owen is the epitome of the Irishman that always has a new joke, and spoken with an accent that one could never tire. We met in his two-man studio on Church Street south of Bloor. It was called the Vector Groups; it had two employees, Owen and Brian Salter. They had a project for Tasco requiring printed brochures. They had spoken to Mr. Bill Adams who handed me the assignment. First off they needed a quote for the job. I thanked them without embellishment other than to say that I'd get the pricing done quickly. In two days I was in their office with a typed proposal and the details on how we would do the job to their complete satisfaction...guaranteed. I believe they had other printers' prices at the time because Brian said to me, "Can't you do any better than that?" I was as green as grass in negotiating circumstances and replied quickly and assertively, "No I can't." We exchanged a few more thoughts and I was walking to the door when Owen said, "There goes Gary McFxxxhead."
Owen and I with several of our team enjoyed many 'jars' after a hot game of squash. We didn't golf together because they wouldn't allow a bag of full of the sheleighly on the course.
Fourty years have passed and Owen still addresses me accordingly; he said it as soon as I answered  the phone with an 'I can't believe it's you Owen.' He lives in Collingwood with his wife Ingrid and has raised two sons. He'd like us to visit his ideal surroundings in happy retirement, and we will.
I sent this column to Owen whereby he made several comments regarding my memory of the facts: the company was called Index Studio; Brian Salter came along later; the other dude in the studio was Joh McConnell. So far I guess I'm batting pretty low. Whose counting? Not me.
On April 16, 2019 Owen met me at O&B in Bayview Village for the first time in twenty years or more. He hasn't changed at all - of course he looks his age but who doesn't - and he hit me with a huge man-hug and hand shake as we walked together and ordered a beer. We talked for two hours about all manner of issues that brought back old likeable memories, as well as the unfortunate ones that all of us make in our lives. Sometimes we get over them and they fall into the never regions of our minds, but one that Owen will always recall is his final recall of partner Michael Crunkhorn who did him in just before the typesetting business went down the drain. That's an old story that we dwelled over for some length: a time in Owen's life that if given the chance he would string Mike up and cut something off for sure.
Owen will be inducted in the Mariposa Music Festival this July for his lifetime of contributions to the Irish way of life through song and storytelling that will be his legacy, and I was there while he was making his name in entertainment. The studio, art and type business had been good for Owen until it all fell apart and there he was standing alone when the creditors came calling. Fortunately Ingrid was there with her name on their lovely house. They're in Collingwood now and enjoying their time and space to the fullest. Owen was and is a great guy never to be forgotten.

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