Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sepia Saturday #343: Work and Play. Work!! Work!! Work!! Number 4

The first thing directors say to you is "Relax!" Right—it's great advice and everybody does better on camera when they are natural and "just like they're talking to people in their living room." But that's easier said than done. On this occasion, the "California's Gold" television show was filming at Lawry's California Center in L.A. I was the Product Development Manager and was chosen to give a tour of the R&D facilities which were famous in food circles at that time. I was nervous and trying to erase the rictus from my face and replace it with a genuine smile. Sweat was trickling down my arms and I was worrying that huge stains would appear on my jacket. I don't remember much about the taping. I don't believe my part made it off the cutting room floor. I vaguely remember briefly meeting Huell Howser, the lovable star of the show. 
Huell Howser at Nisei Week 2007.

I'm standing in front of the "altar" which we used for product evaluations and meetings. I don't think anyone ever used a mixer on it as each food scientist worked in a "bay," two of which you can see behind me. I think the director wanted the mixer there as a prop...maybe that's what had me so nervous—I thought it looked in a suit with a mixer?? My cue cards were sitting on the corner of the altar too —I can't read them, but as I recall I didn't have too much to say and probably didn't say it well. 

Working at Lawry's was an excellent experience and totally happy. Our R&D center was in a beautiful garden location which conveniently incorporated a bar, where we could wander down after work and have a margarita and enjoy the mariachi music. We worked hard and played overused expression, but we did and the final photo shows me in the turquoise dress and co-workers having a staff meeting. I'm in contact with that whole crowd and we see each other often.

Lawry's California Center
La Barbacoa

R & D Staff Meeting.

Later on in my career, I started a consulting company, Food Smarts, and had as a major client, the California Egg Commission. Gawd...I made a lot of popovers when I worked for them. This photo is at a trade show, one of many each year, where we made and gave away thousands of popovers. My contract was for promotion of eggs in foodservice and manufacturing—we worked with anyone in California who wanted to use eggs in a commercial product be it baked goods, frozen foods, candies and in foodservice. I loved the huge popovers and wish I had that big photo. 

I bet you didn't know 1996 was "The Year of the Omelet." The Dow Jones average was 6448. My nest egg would have tripled if I'd just bought an index fund and left it alone. Mad cow disease broke out in Britain and for once I wasn't working for a company in the eye of the storm. (When I worked for Lawry's, salt was killing us all; when I worked for the egg commission, it was the cholesterol crisis). When I was feeling sorry for myself, I'd look at this poster, which I had hanging on my office wall. I'd remind myself that it could be worse, working for the Lard Information Council. 

How did I stand there (see photo below) with a straight face under that self-important banner, which declares "1996—the year of the Omelet" giving out data disks with formulas for manufacturers...the little egg-yolk yellow disks which we thought was the ultimate in tech-savvy promotion. The better question did I stand at all in high heels at trade shows for 8 - 10 hours a day. 

With David Will in Las Vegas
This particular photo was taken in Las Vegas at the annual Pizza Exposition. We were promoting breakfast pizza. My cohort David and I decided, after drinking a little wine the night before, to show up in the booth in the morning in our pajamas to serve the breakfast pizza; we rushed over to WalMart and bought a couple of pairs of silly, colorful PJ's and big fuzzy slippers. We thought it was hilarious, but surprisingly few people noticed, which is a social comment of enormous import as it belies the state of wardrobe at that time in Las Vegas. Or maybe people noticed but didn't think it was as funny and David and I did. I do remember one woman asking us if we realized we were in pajamas. David and I both responded in the same way. "Oh my God, thanks for telling us!" Later in the day, when it ceased to be funny even to us, we changed into civilian clothing and acted like adults for the rest of the show. 

It's hard for me to believe so many years have gone by—hard until I think of standing for 5 minutes in high heels—never mind a twelve hour day afoot. 

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how similar our histories are. I can sure relate to the trade show story and wearing pajamas. Once our group all wore matching puffy sleeved dresses to look very country. We only looked really silly. Also, I loved eating at Lawry's. The beautiful gardens, the margaritas and delicious food. I can still taste it.