Standing Desk Jump

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An average office desk is 28 inches tall. Not very imposing, but try doing a standing jump and landing on top of one with both feet.

On second thought, don’t. You may break your neck, or at least a shin.

Jack Sidebotham could do it though. That’s how he celebrated his birthday, every year at Lands’ End. And the first birthday he celebrated at Lands’ End was his 66th one. Can you say spry? We were all astonished. He giggled at our astonishment.

The annual desk jump gives you an idea of what a youthful spirit Jack had. But our first clue was his doodling.

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It was all so unexpected. Jack had come to Lands’ End after a legendary career in advertising, as an art director and creative director at Young & Rubicam, McCaffrey & McCall and other notable agencies. He was tall, charming, a classy dresser. (Although he rarely wore socks.) Seemed to us like the quintessential sophisticated New Yorker, especially in the company of his lovely auburn-haired wife Bernadette.

We remember sitting next to him at his first big meeting – one of those slightly pompous affairs, with the top brass of Lands’ End sitting like the Supreme Court in front of us all – when we noticed that Jack was doodling. We leaned over for a closer look, then cut loose with an uncontrollable guffaw. He was drawing the top brass as crawling babies in diapers! Our current president was sitting up with a puzzled expression, asking, “Goo?” For that day on, we took great comfort in knowing that while Jack took his work seriously, he realized that life is just a bowl of cherries. You couldn’t have a grumpy day when he was around.

Later, we learned that along with his work in advertising, he had also been a main cartoonist and creative force behind “Schoolhouse Rock,” which gave him rock star status among the twenty-something age group of his co-workers.

Soon the Lands’ End catalogs became livelier and more amusing than ever before,  thanks to Jack’s contributions, cartooning and otherwise. He came up with unexpected cover ideas. He inspired his art department to their best work ever. He even created the first-ever comic strip in a catalog. Chronicling the whimsical adventures of his grandkids Tim and Kate.  It was a golden era that our customers loved, and we’ll always treasure.

Once, over a particularly convivial lunch, Jack made a bold statement: “Anyone can learn how to draw cartoons!”

We begged to differ, offering a pathetic stick man drawn on our napkin as proof. But Jack said he had written a book once that would have us all cartooning in no time. Then the conversation turned to other subjects – baseball, wine, our waitress, the barmaid, etc.

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We forgot about the cartooning book till the other day when, missing Jack, we looked for it on Amazon. Voila, there it was – “The Art of Cartooning”, a Grum-bacher art library book.

You may have the knack, you may not. But it’ll help keep you young at heart. And it’s a lot less dangerous than the standing desk jump.

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