In 1980 the Missus and I met while we were both working at Filene’s flagship department store in downtown Boston (she was the store’s Executive Shopper, I was a copywriter in its advertising department). My route to the copywriting job was somewhat unorthodox, as I’ve described elsewhere. But once there, I took maximum advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves, especially regarding the (future) Missus.
The most lasting impact of my work at Filene’s . . . came from promoting the flagship store’s Executive Shopping Service created by the lovely and talented Tina Laurie Sutton, late of Glen Cove, Long Island. My first encounter with her was thoroughly memorable: I was enjoying the peace and quiet of the eighth-floor Glamour School Room (a leftover from the Filene’s Working for the Working Girl days) where I often went to do my writing, when Tina passed through on her way to the cafeteria. She was wearing a teal skirted suit that fit in all the right places. She had alabaster skin and a cascade of dark hair that would have made Botticelli swoon. I knew her by sight so I asked, “how’s business?”
“Thin as the gold on a weekend wedding ring,” she shot back.
Wow – smart, beautiful, and quotes Raymond Chandler? That’s the trifecta all day long. (To be honest, I was thinking about a different Chandler quote: “She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.”)
The next time I saw Tina she was standing in my office doorway (by then I’d been bumped up to Copy Chief) and said, “My boss told me you’re supposed to produce an ad for my service.” “Sure – let’s have lunch.”
Classy guy that I was, I took her to the Superior Deli, where a bowl of beef stew cost $1.25. She had an egg salad sandwich. Once we got settled in, Tina said, “So what do you want to know about my service?” “I never talk business at lunch,” I replied smartly.
Soon enough, though, I produced this ad, which I managed to sneak into the Wall Street Journal on multiple occasions when the department buyers didn’t come through with the merchandise that was supposed to be featured in the store’s monthly ad.
I also produced this Boston Magazine ad aimed at those pathetic guys who wind up at Filene’s around seven o’clock on Christmas Eve looking for something to buy for the wife or loved one (or both).
Meanwhile, Tina and I ate lunch at the Super Deli every weekday for the next ten months until I went off to work for a local ad agency. Two years later we were married.
In May of 1983, to be precise, we got hitched by a justice of the peace in the ballroom at Longwood Towers in Brookline, Mass.
At the same time the doors opened to our modest group of guests, the (open) bar also opened. That nicely set the proper tone for our happy occasion. The wedding ceremony was to take place on the balcony. Right before it began, I looked down at the ballroom and didn’t see anyone I knew. Then the (almost) Missus looked down and didn’t see anyone she knew. So we’re both thinking, are we at the wrong wedding?
We weren’t. We were at the perfect wedding. Some months later, we embarked on our honeymoon – a double dip to Québec City and Montréal. First stop: Le Château Frontenac.
We had the biggest hotel room ever: I paced it off as 40 feet by 20 feet. And Québec City was totally charming, although I don’t remember us doing a whole lot of touristy things there, just wandering around the Old Town, which looked a lot like this.
Beyond that, we dined at the most appealing restaurants we came across in our rambles. One night we ate at the sadly defunct La Jalousie, where the waitress asked us after the entree, Want somesing sweet? We absolutely did.
We found Montréal, on the other hand, somewhat less captivating. mostly because the Montréal of 40 years ago in no way resembled Montréal today. One of Montréal’s cultural highlights the Missus and I sampled was McCord’s Mukluk Museum, which was pretty lame back then but might be more engaging now. We also ventured to the Musée Marguerite-Bourgeoys Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.
Crowning an ancient promontory above the Saint Lawrence River, once a campsite favoured by the Native peoples, a 300-year-old chapel, a museum of history and an archaeological site invite you to hear what they have to say about the people who founded Montreal. Through the achievements of Marguerite Bourgeoys, a woman of courage and compassion who lived in 17th-century Montreal, you will find yourself transported back through time to another world, that of our ancestors.
As we approached the Chapelle, we noticed that there was a line alongside it, so we took our place at the back. We soon noted that we were getting a lot of side eye from the others in line, which we thought was strange until it dawned on us that we were in the church’s soup line.
So we moved around to the front of the Chapelle. Once inside we gazed with utter amazement at a display of vignettes populated by dime-store dolls depicting the various activities of Marguerite-Bourgeoys. Representative samples:
Presumably, the Marguerite-Bourgeoys dolls look better these days. The Missus and I might not, but we’re just as much in love as when we took the aforementioned snapshots in a Montréal Métro photo booth.
As our waitress at La Jalousie said, somesing sweet.
In the mid-1980s I worked my way into writing regular columns for Adweek, which I produced from 1986 to 1994. (Details about how that came to pass here.)
In 1990 I wrote a piece which “casually mentioned that Larry Glick, a talk-show host at WHDH-AM in Boston, was going to broadcast his upcoming nuptials over the airwaves. His umpteenth marriage happened to take place in Las Vegas, which is certainly a charming venue for a wedding. If it’s on the radio, of course.”
I then proceeded to wax nostalgic “about the happy occasion of my own wedding to the Missus [in 1983], an event which was highlighted for many by the availability of cocktails during the ceremony. There was nothing sacrilegious about it, though, because we had a JP presiding. Or was it a J&B? Well, whatever.”
Kind of nuts graf:
Here’s the whole piece.
A shoutout to my splendid Adweek editor Greg Farrell, who was willing to board any amusement park ride I proposed.
Those nine years at Adweek were a total gas.