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Chapter 32

  • The Summerfield Advertising Agency, of which Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield wa_resident, was one of those curious exfoliations or efflorescences of th_ersonality of a single individual which is so often met with in the busines_orld, and which always means a remarkable individual behind them. The ideas,
  • the enthusiasm, the strength of Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was all there was t_he Summerfield Advertising Agency. It was true there was a large force of me_orking for him, advertising canvassers, advertising writers, financia_ccountants, artists, stenographers, book-keepers and the like, but they wer_ll as it were an emanation or irradiation of the personality of Mr. Daniel C.
  • Summerfield. He was small, wiry, black-haired, black-eyed, black-mustached,
  • with an olive complexion and even, pleasing, albeit at times wolfish, whit_eeth which indicated a disposition as avid and hungry as a disposition wel_ight be.
  • Mr. Summerfield had come up into his present state of affluence or comparativ_ffluence from the direst poverty and by the directest route—his persona_fforts. In the State in which he had originated, Alabama, his family had bee_nown, in the small circle to which they were known at all, as poor whit_rash. His father had been a rather lackadaisical, half-starved cotton plante_ho had been satisfied with a single bale or less of cotton to the acre on th_round which he leased, and who drove a lean mule very much the worse for ag_nd wear, up and down the furrows of his leaner fields the while he complaine_f "the misery" in his breast. He was afflicted with slow consumption o_hought he was, which was just as effective, and in addition had hook-worm,
  • though that parasitic producer of hopeless tiredness was not yet discovere_nd named.
  • Daniel Christopher, his eldest son, had been raised with scarcely an_ducation, having been put in a cotton mill at the age of seven, bu_evertheless he soon manifested himself as the brain of the family. For fou_ears he worked in the cotton mill, and then, because of his unusua_rightness, he had been given a place in the printing shop of the Wickha_nion, where he was so attractive to the slow-going proprietor that he soo_ecame foreman of the printing department and then manager. He knew nothing o_rinting or newspapers at the time, but the little contact he obtained her_oon cleared his vision. He saw instantly what the newspaper business was, an_ecided to enter it. Later, as he grew older, he suspected that no one kne_ery much about advertising as yet, or very little, and that he was called b_od to revise it. With this vision of a still wider field of usefulness in hi_ind, he began at once to prepare himself for it, reading all manner o_dvertising literature and practicing the art of display and effectiv_tatement. He had been through such bitter things as personal fights wit_hose who worked under him, knocking one man down with a heavy iron form key;
  • personal altercation with his own father and mother in which he frankly tol_hem that they were failures, and that they had better let him show the_omething about regulating their hopeless lives. He had quarreled with hi_ounger brothers, trying to dominate them, and had succeeded in controllin_he youngest, principally for the very good reason that he had becom_oolishly fond of him; this younger brother he later introduced into hi_dvertising business. He had religiously saved the little he had earned thu_ar, invested a part of it in the further development of the Wickham _Union_ ,
  • bought his father an eight acre farm, which he showed him how to work, an_inally decided to come to New York to see if he could not connect himsel_ith some important advertising concern where he could learn something mor_bout the one thing that interested him. He was already married, and h_rought his young wife with him from the South.
  • He soon connected himself as a canvasser with one of the great agencies an_dvanced rapidly. He was so smiling, so bland, so insistent, so magnetic, tha_usiness came to him rapidly. He became the star man in this New York concer_nd Alfred Cookman, who was its owner and manager, was soon pondering what h_ould do to retain him. No individual or concern could long retain Daniel C.
  • Summerfield, however, once he understood his personal capabilities. In tw_ears he had learned all that Alfred Cookman had to teach him and more than h_ould teach him. He knew his customers and what their needs were, and wher_he lack was in the service which Mr. Cookman rendered them. He foresaw th_rift toward artistic representation of saleable products, and decided to g_nto that side of it. He would start an agency which would render a service s_omplete and dramatic that anyone who could afford to use his service woul_ake money.
  • When Eugene first heard of this agency, the Summerfield concern was six year_ld and rapidly growing. It was already very large and profitable and as har_nd forceful as its owner. Daniel C. Summerfield, sitting in his privat_ffice, was absolutely ruthless in his calculations as to men. He had studie_he life of Napoleon and had come to the conclusion that no individual lif_as important. Mercy was a joke to be eliminated from business. Sentiment wa_illy twaddle. The thing to do was to hire men as cheaply as possible, t_rive them as vigorously as possible, and to dispose of them quickly when the_howed signs of weakening under the strain. He had already had five ar_irectors in as many years, had "hired and fired," as he termed it,
  • innumerable canvassers, ad writers, book-keepers, stenographers,
  • artists—getting rid of anyone and everyone who showed the least sign o_ncapacity or inefficiency. The great office floor which he maintained was _odel of cleanliness, order—one might almost say beauty of a commercial sort,
  • but it was the cleanliness, order and beauty of a hard, polished and well-
  • oiled machine. Daniel C. Summerfield was not much more than that, but he ha_ong ago decided that was what he must be in order not to be a failure, _ool, and as he called it, "a mark," and he admired himself for being so.
  • When Mr. Baker Bates at Hudson Dula's request went to Mr. Summerfield i_egard to the rumored vacancy which really existed, the latter was in a mos_eceptive frame of mind. He had just come into two very important advertisin_ontracts which required a lot of imagination and artistic skill to execute,
  • and he had lost his art director because of a row over a former contract. I_as true that in very many cases—in most cases, in fact—his customers had ver_efinite ideas as to what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it,
  • but not always. They were almost always open to suggestions as t_odifications and improvements, and in a number of very important cases the_ere willing to leave the entire theory of procedure to the Summerfiel_dvertising Company. This called for rare good judgment not only in th_reparation, but in the placing of these ads, and it was in the matter o_heir preparation—the many striking ideas which they should embody—that th_udgment and assistance of a capable art director of real imagination was mos_aluable.
  • As has already been said, Mr. Summerfield had had five art directors in almos_s many years. In each case he had used the Napoleonic method of throwing _resh, unwearied mind into the breach of difficulty, and when it wearied o_roke under the strain, tossing it briskly out. There was no compunction o_ity connected with any detail of this method. "I hire good men and I pay the_ood wages," was his favorite comment. "Why shouldn't I expect good results?"
  • If he was wearied or angered by failure he was prone to exclaim—"Thes_oddamned cattle of artists! What can you expect of them? They don't kno_nything outside their little theory of how things ought to look. They don'_now anything about life. Why, God damn it, they're like a lot of children.
  • Why should anybody pay any attention to what they think? Who cares what the_hink? They give me a pain in the neck." Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was ver_uch given to swearing, more as a matter of habit than of foul intention, an_o picture of him would be complete without the interpolation of his favorit_xpressions.
  • When Eugene appeared on the horizon as a possible applicant for thi_elightful position, Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was debating with himself jus_hat he should do in connection with the two new contracts in question. Th_dvertisers were awaiting his suggestions eagerly. One was for the nation-wid_dvertising of a new brand of sugar, the second for the international displa_f ideas in connection with a series of French perfumes, the sale of whic_epended largely upon the beauty with which they could be interpreted to th_ay mind. The latter were not only to be advertised in the United States an_anada, but in Mexico also, and the fulfilment of the contracts in either cas_as dependent upon the approval given by the advertisers to the designs fo_ewspaper, car and billboard advertising which he should submit. It was _icklish business, worth two hundred thousand dollars in ultimate profits, an_aturally he was anxious that the man who should sit in the seat of authorit_n his art department should be one of real force and talent—a genius i_ossible, who should, through his ideas, help him win his golden harvest.
  • The right man naturally was hard to find. The last man had been only fairl_apable. He was dignified, meditative, thoughtful, with considerable taste an_pprehension as to what the material situation required in driving home simpl_deas, but he had no great imaginative grasp of life. In fact no man who ha_ver sat in the director's chair had ever really suited Mr. Summerfield.
  • According to him they had all been weaklings. "Dubs; fakes; hot air artists,"
  • were some of his descriptions of them. Their problem, however, was a hard one,
  • for they had to think very vigorously in connection with any product which h_ight be trying to market, and to offer him endless suggestions as to wha_ould be the next best thing for a manufacturer to say or do to attrac_ttention to what he had to sell. It might be a catch phrase such as "Have Yo_een This New Soap?" or "Do You Know Soresda?—It's Red." It might be that _ovelty in the way of hand or finger, eye or mouth was all that was required,
  • carrying some appropriate explanation in type. Sometimes, as in the case o_ery practical products, their very practical display in some clear,
  • interesting, attractive way was all that was needed. In most cases, though,
  • something radically new was required, for it was the theory of Mr. Summerfiel_hat his ads must not only arrest the eye, but fix themselves in the memory,
  • and convey a fact which was or at least could be made to seem important to th_eader. It was a struggling with one of the deepest and most interestin_hases of human psychology.
  • The last man, Older Freeman, had been of considerable use to him in his way.
  • He had collected about him a number of fairly capable artists—men temporaril_own on their luck—who like Eugene were willing to take a working position o_his character, and from them he had extracted by dint of pleading, cajoling,
  • demonstrating and the like a number of interesting ideas. Their working hour_ere from nine to five-thirty, their pay meagre—eighteen to thirty-five, wit_xperts drawing in several instances fifty and sixty dollars, and their task_nnumerable and really never-ending. Their output was regulated by a tabulate_ecord system which kept account of just how much they succeeded i_ccomplishing in a week, and how much it was worth to the concern. The idea_n which they worked were more or less products of the brains of the ar_irector and his superior, though they occasionally themselves made importan_uggestions, but for their proper execution, the amount of time spent on them,
  • the failures sustained, the art director was more or less responsible. H_ould not carry to his employer a poor drawing of a good idea, or a poor ide_or something which required a superior thought, and long hope to retain hi_osition. Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was too shrewd and too exacting. He wa_eally tireless in his energy. It was his art director's business, he thought,
  • to get him good ideas for good drawings and then to see that they wer_roperly and speedily executed.
  • Anything less than this was sickening failure in the eyes of Mr. Summerfield,
  • and he was not at all bashful in expressing himself. As a matter of fact, h_as at times terribly brutal. "Why the hell do you show me a thing like that?"
  • he once exclaimed to Freeman. "Jesus Christ; I could hire an ashman and ge_etter results. Why, God damn it, look at the drawing of the arm of tha_oman. Look at her ear. Whose going to take a thing like that? It's tame! It'_unk! It's a joke! What sort of cattle have you got out there working for you,
  • anyhow? Why, if the Summerfield Advertising Company can't do better than tha_ might as well shut up the place and go fishing. We'll be a joke in si_eeks. Don't try to hand me any such God damned tripe as that, Freeman. Yo_now better. You ought to know our advertisers wouldn't stand for anythin_ike that. Wake up! I'm paying you five thousand a year. How do you expect I'_oing to get my money back out of any such arrangement as that? You're simpl_asting my money and your time letting a man draw a thing like that. Hell!!"
  • The art director, whoever he was, having been by degrees initiated into th_rutalities of the situation, and having—by reason of the time he had bee_mployed and the privileges he had permitted himself on account of hi_omfortable and probably never before experienced salary—sold himself int_ondage to his now fancied necessities, was usually humble and tractable unde_he most galling fire. Where could he go and get five thousand dollars a yea_or his services? How could he live at the rate he was living if he lost thi_lace? Art directorships were not numerous. Men who could fill them fairl_cceptably were not impossible to find. If he thought at all and was not _eaven-born genius serene in the knowledge of his God-given powers, he wa_ery apt to hesitate, to worry, to be humble and to endure a good deal. Mos_en under similar circumstances do the same thing. They think before the_ling back into the teeth of their oppressors some of the slurs and bruta_haracterizations which so frequently issue therefrom. Most men do. Beside_here is almost always a high percentage of truth in the charges made. Usuall_he storm is for the betterment of mankind. Mr. Summerfield knew this. He kne_lso the yoke of poverty and the bondage of fear which most if not all his me_ere under. He had no compunctions about using these weapons, much as a stron_an might use a club. He had had a hard life himself. No one had sympathize_ith him very much. Besides you couldn't sympathize and succeed. Better loo_he facts in the face, deal only with infinite capacity, roughly weed out th_ncompetents and proceed along the line of least resistance, in so far as you_owerful enemies were concerned. Men might theorize and theorize until th_rack of doom, but this was the way the thing had to be done and this was th_ay he preferred to do it.
  • Eugene had never heard of any of these facts in connection with th_ummerfield Company. The idea had been flung at him so quickly he had no tim_o think, and besides if he had had time it would have made no difference. _ittle experience of life had taught him as it teaches everyone else t_istrust rumor. He had applied for the place on hearing and he was hoping t_et it. At noon the day following his visit to Mr. Baker Bates, the latter wa_peaking for him to Mr. Summerfield, but only very casually.
  • "Say," he asked, quite apropos of nothing apparently, for they were discussin_he chances of his introducing his product into South America, "do you eve_ave need of an art director over in your place?"
  • "Occasionally," replied Summerfield guardedly, for his impression was that Mr.
  • Baker Bates knew very little of art directors or anything else in connectio_ith the art side of advertising life. He might have heard of his present nee_nd be trying to palm off some friend of his, an incompetent, of course, o_im. "What makes you ask?"
  • "Why, Hudson Dula, the manager of the Triple Lithographic Company, was tellin_e of a man who is connected with the _World_ who might make a good one fo_ou. I know something of him. He painted some rather remarkable views of Ne_ork and Paris here a few years ago. Dula tells me they were very good."
  • "Is he young?" interrupted Summerfield, calculating.
  • "Yes, comparatively. Thirty-one or two, I should say."
  • "And he wants to be an art director, does he. Where is he?"
  • "He's down on the _World_ , and I understand he wants to get out of there. _eard you say last year that you were looking for a man, and I thought thi_ight interest you."
  • "What's he doing down on the _World_?"
  • "He's been sick, I understand, and is just getting on his feet again."
  • The explanation sounded sincere enough to Summerfield.
  • "What's his name?" he asked.
  • "Witla, Eugene Witla. He had an exhibition at one of the galleries here a fe_ears ago."
  • "I'm afraid of these regular high-brow artists," observed Summerfiel_uspiciously. "They're usually so set up about their art that there's n_iving with them. I have to have someone with hard, practical sense in m_ork. Someone that isn't a plain damn fool. He has to be a good manager—a goo_dministrator, mere talent for drawing won't do—though he has to have that, o_now it when he sees it. You might send this fellow around sometime if yo_now him. I wouldn't mind looking at him. I may need a man pretty soon. I'_hinking of making certain changes."
  • "If I see him I will," said Baker indifferently and dropped the matter.
  • Summerfield, however, for some psychological reason was impressed with th_ame. Where had he heard it? Somewhere apparently. Perhaps he had better fin_ut something about him.
  • "If you send him you'd better give him a letter of introduction," he adde_houghtfully, before Bates should have forgotten the matter. "So many peopl_ry to get in to see me, and I may forget."
  • Baker knew at once that Summerfield wished to look at Witla. He dictated _etter of introduction that afternoon to his stenographer and mailed it t_ugene.
  • "I find Mr. Summerfield apparently disposed to see you," he wrote. "You ha_etter go and see him if you are interested. Present this letter. Very trul_ours."
  • Eugene looked at it with astonishment and a sense of foregoneness so far a_hat was to follow. Fate was fixing this for him. He was going to get it. Ho_trange life was! Here he was down on the _World_ working for fifty dollars _eek, and suddenly an art directorship, a thing he had thought of for years,
  • was coming to him out of nowhere! Then he decided to telephone Mr. Danie_ummerfield, saying that he had a letter from Mr. Baker Bates and asking whe_e could see him. Later he decided to waste no time, but to present the lette_irect without phoning. At three in the afternoon he received permission fro_enedict to be away from the office between three and five, and at three-
  • thirty he was in the anteroom of the general offices of the Summerfiel_dvertising Company, waiting for a much desired permission to enter.