Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Promises I Made My Mother (copy)

It was a delight to hear Sam Haskell speak at the Senatobia Lunch with Books yesterday. He flew in special from New York to promote his excellent new book, "Promises I Made My Mother." I was late but after listening to him for just a minute I was struck by his gentle mannerisms and charming good looks. No wonder he won the hearts of finicky people like Bette Davis and David Frost.

Sam Haskell was born in Alabama but he soon moved to Mississippi and considers Amory his hometown. As a child he believed anything was possible and he continued to have faith when others began to doubt. In the prologue he uses the Cheer Man as his example.

In 1964 Amory had all of three television channels from which to choose and nine-year-old Sam was a scholar of all. The Cheer Man was a commercial airing that year to promote the washing detergent. The spokesman dressed in bright orange and sporting a detergent box hat was seen walking through a neighborhood asking, "Do you use Cheer?" Finally he gets an answer when one lucky housewife shows off her box. The spokesman then hands her a ten dollar bill and all is right with the world.

This commercial, this image, this event was going to happen to young Sam. His mother used Cheer and he knew it was only a matter of time before the Cheer Man came down the street and stopped at his front door. He jumped into action – so as to be ready for the blessed day – by making a poster declaring his undying love for the product. With money saved he purchased all the paint and mini rocks to place on his poster which became a garish three by four foot sign that he proudly displayed above his bedroom headboard.

Soon his artwork became the butt of his father's jokes. "Son, show the guys what you plan to do when the Cheer Man comes?" Sam would eagerly display his masterpiece only to be met with snickers and guffaws from the crowd.

It was his mother who kept the dream alive although time passed and the Cheer Man commercial cycled off the air. Eventually, the poster came off the wall to reside under the bed and then moved to the closet. His mother never once pointed out the impossibility, but told him it was a beautiful dream.

Readers will find the Cheer Man cometh and directly to the Haskell's front door thus proving all things are possible. Sam returned to Mississippi yesterday after a successful career in Hollywood culminating as Worldwide Head of Television. Yes, all things are possible.

4 comments: