Memories of Ft. Wayne

Some years back, I was asked to give a talk at the Ft. Wayne Ad Club.

I have 2 vivid memories of the visit. The first was my client in Ft. Wayne, a large insurance company, had their LearJet pick me up in Chicago. On a trip that short, there’s press you back in your seat vertical climb, followed by descent. No time for level cruising. Also, the 16-year old Scotch and the mixed nuts (with no peanuts, mind you) made for a pleasant ride, however brief.

The second memory was after my little talk to the 30 or so assembled ad folk. I left the meeting with about 20 resumes which had been pressed into my hands. The get-me-out-of-here sentiment was palpable, which I understood because I had made a similar escape years earlier from the city of Nptryk (Nice Place To Raise Your Kids).

A client in Omaha once told me that all the mid-size, Midwest, mid-crisis cities were alike: put a bag over the head of Des Moines/Wichita/Tulsa and the other 99 names for Nptryk – you’ll find rusting factories, failing newspapers, a few billionaires, and many people who believe there’s something edible at the Olive Garden. The flight of manufacturing accelerated the downward spiral of these cities, but it was always true that some people felt compelled to leave. On graduation day, the prettiest girl in South Dakota will board the bus for the coast.

Comments 2

  1. Why, it’s like you’ve been to Wichita!

    Actually, many of the rusting factories have been torn down, leaving only the bare Superfund sites. The newspaper is alive, though shrinking (and not too bad a paper). Some of the Kochs live here, but they keep a low profile.

    Wichita has a pretty good selection of local restaurants in wide variety– not that the Olive Gardens and Hometown Buffets don’t stay busy. (Chain restaurant corporations frequently use Wichita as a test market for new concepts.) Even the unsuccessful local restaurant entrepreneurs keep opening restaurants, and there are a few very successful restauranteurs here.

    Good post.

  2. I lived in Dayton (another Wichita) before I moved to Chicago, and I’ll testify they’re basically interchangeable.

    Another vivid memory of Ft. Wayne: I had to stay overnight in the Holiday Inn before a morning meeting, and I wandered into the bar to find myself in a Fellini movie. On the tiny dance floor was a 300-lb. woman in a sequined dress, eyes closed, twirling in a circle. A sparkly igloo in a trance. The music was provided by a one-man band who was playing and singing (are you ready for this?) “Egg-Suckin’ Dog.”

    People speak of “peak experiences” in life. There are, I swear, trough moments.

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