Birth is terminal.
I believe a mind is our soul and it never dies. In my heaven, an eternal imagination will be granted a choice of whatever we want it to be when our time comes.
My mom, Mary Holman Antil, taught me how to be polite, behave, and how to stretch my abilities. She also taught me how to learn, and that reading is the best educator. My best working career direction came from my dad—Michael C. Antil Sr. He was Big Mike to all who knew him; a ninth-grade dropout because of the death of his father. Dad was a self-educated marketing genius who would read himself to sleep every night. Among other more noteworthy accomplishments my dad created the Duncan Hines baking brand in the early 1950s. I remember Walt Disney calling the house asking his advice. My dad and mom put eight children through any college curriculum they chose. Dad could complete a New York Times crossword puzzle in fifteen minutes. When he wasn’t busy enjoying life working hard, he was fishing from the banks of a nearby lake with his kids and sharing his views of this big adventure we’re all on…called life…and telling us stories.
He would tell me that just reading a paragraph or two from such aficionados of adventure as Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway—was so important. “These people didn’t just write books,” he would say. “They wrote compasses for life’s journeys and adventures from their own imaginations … to help us learn how to make our own adventures better and to let us know we can do the same.”
I remember my recurring nightmare as a youth. I would wake in a cold sweat, jumping up from bed as I heard the thundering paddle noise of a massive River Queen steamboat splashing towards our raft, and Jim, Huck and I jumping off in the nick of time as it crashed me through one chapter and into the next.
“I’m eighteen and a sophomore, Dad,” I said. “Practically everyone here is back from serving in Korea and in their twenties, some with families. My whole freshman year they’d pass me on the school path and yell, ‘Hey, Stretch, ya getting any?’ and I’d yell back, ‘Sure am, every week,’ thinking they meant money from home.”
That’s when my dad told me to get a phone book and write down the name and address of every advertising or public relations agency in Cincinnati, and see what I had as a writer. He said that life is best with very simple rules and first rule is never doing anything just for the money. Second rule is that no matter what a person chooses to do in life, if they try to do it better than anyone else they’ll always make a good living and will never know failure. And finally, he told me if I wanted to be a writer, then it’s best I learn early: marketing has got to become my Mississippi. “Mark Twain may be your namesake,” he said, “but even Samuel Langhorne Clemens had to go out, knock on doors, and sell his books one at a time. The early ones didn’t just pop off the store shelves.”
Then he bought me a new suit. A suit for a near seven-footer in the early 1960s wasn’t all that easy to come by. In fact, they didn’t exist. With my new suit and list of advertising and public relations agencies in hand, Dad then rehearsed me on making my entrance to the advertising agencies and public relations firms.
As Big Mike would always tell me, marketing would be my Mississippi one day.
My blog is my spur of the moment observations. I hope it suits you well.