*Someone asked me recently if I’d ever gone to Paris. “Yes,” I replied, although I could not/cared not to remember the exact date – Why, you may ask? It’s because I have discovered, dates are an unnecessary file on my mental hard drive. Ask me instead how I felt when I was there, or what I did. Now that’s data I keep on file…but dates? No, I do not. And I’m good with this, because I know if I were called to testify at a Congressional hearing, I could find the date. I know it’s written down somewhere. And that’s pretty much the attitude I have always had about personal dates and numbers – I’ve got it written down somewhere, probably in one of my daily journals or archived telephone books.
Yep, I keep that stuff.
If I were ever to write my autobiography, that’s where I’d go, to my phone and datebook.
Funny, I don’t think the address book on my iPhone will hold the same cachet or elicit such detailed memories, although there’s probably an app for that … or does Suri do that, too?
I don’t know about you, but I need the scribbles, the line through old telephone numbers and updated addresses to chronicle my life and friends, to instigate memories of whom, what and where.
Like the phonebook I found recently, dating back to 1980-81, the year I left South Carolina for New York City. The year is the reason why it includes a two-page entry in the handwriting of my creative, flamboyant, bon vivant friend, Sam Kimbrel. Sam was my resident fairy godfather in Columbia, a entertaining jazz pianist and an excellent cook. He critiqued my work, helped me find talented sources, and just like well-bred sponsors of old, he would send me off to NYC with a handwritten letter of introduction and pages of telephone numbers to New Yorkers like Margarita De La Corte (Dell Press), Huntington Hartford (A&P food chain heir), Gertrude Stein, Marion Javits , Oniek Sahakian (a friend of Salvador Dali) and artist Ilona Royce Smithkin (an impressionist painter who invited me to lunch in her apartment above Carnegie Hall).
There, in those alphabetized pages, are the places and spaces I’ve been. There is Bashy Quraishi’s telephone number to his apartment, with the exquisite Persian rugs, where I stayed on my trip to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Joe Medlin’s office number at Spring Records, Leroi Little’s Charlotte office and the L.A. telephone number for Ann Mabin (Rick James’ Motown product manager, who ordered my T-shirts for the band to wear on Soul Train). There’s a number to Archie Ivy, one of the creative geniuses behind the traveling circus known as George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic entourage. Here’s an entry for Rick James’ home number in Buffalo and the band’s house, where my brother lived. Next page is Live Nation tour impresario Al Haymon’s private number in Boston, and beside it, the number to the pool house at the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia.
Some friends have many numbers and addresses; like Lisa, the airline stewardess, or my friend Wanda Hayes (Polygram days and beyond!). Her entry sits right next to James Mason of the Bar-Kays. There’s an entry for Reve Gibson at Capital Records in Hollywood. Mary Alford’s number in Boston, before she was a millionaire, while she was still working my brother’s band featuring Margo Thunder and trying to get her new group, New Kids on the Block, to rehearsal.
There’s even a telephone number written in by the late, great drummer Yogi Horton (he toured simultaneously with Luther Vandross and Bob James). And while I can still hear his voice on the recording “It’s Over Now” (he’s the voice of the refrain “GET OUT!”), it is his laugh that I hear, that I remember, because right next to his telephone number, Yogi wrote the punch line to the joke we shared the night we met – that negro did not want me to forget him or that joke!
Of course, some people are brought to mind that you’ll never see or hear from again. Their numbers are history – but not deleted!
Am I waxing nostalgic? Sure, but it’s the holidays, so indulge me! While this was all before cell phones and smartphones, even today I keep a handwritten phonebook. It serves not only as my backup in a cell phone crisis but as an updated thumbnail sketch of my history.
And once in a while, when I am looking for a current contact or an old friend, it’s nice to see just how far we’ve come, both in friendship and technology.
About the Author: Jacqueline Rhinehart is the president and founder of Organic Soul Marketing, a consultation firm that integrates entertainment concepts into creative marketing, publicity and branding opportunities. She is the author of My Organic Soul, From Plato to Creflo, Emerson to MLK, Jesus to Jay-Z (Broadway/Random House). With a career span of 30 years in music, she is a masterful omni-media strategist, creating, developing and implementing memorable campaigns in music, entertainment and lifestyle industries. She is a native of South Carolina and Brooklyn, NY. For more information visit Jacqueline’s website at: www.jacquelinerhinehart.net or www.organicsoulmarketing.net; email her at: [email protected].