By Cam Oliver Lemmon
My life has been full of great experiences. I began working in 1972 when I was married [too] young, and my new husband and I had moved to Tallahassee Florida from the beach community where we grew up. Graduating from high school a year early, I started college, first at Tallahassee Community College, and then going on to FSU. I began working for my new in-laws’ newspaper, “The Florida Labor News.” This was a newspaper, where each letter of type was actually set into place and the entire room was filled with the printing press! Oh, what a mess that was, but thankfully, I learned the process, while selling advertising. Back in those days, without computers, cell phones, or PDAs, I used index cards, a telephone directory, and a rotary dial phone! Some of you are reading this asking, “What’s that?”,
My first husband and I owned a Commercial Office and Street Cleaning business which we started by cleaning shopping center parking lots with a push sweeper and by hand and garbage bags. We grew it into a large company, owning two Tympco Truck sweepers and bidding on government parking garages and all commercial office buildings. My first husband taught me the importance of hard work, striving to be better, building and keeping good credit, and staying organized.
Over the next 5 years, I worked at the FSU School of Law, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Department of Commerce for the Lt Governor’s right hand man. My friends made jokes because everywhere I worked; a scandal would soon break out. While at the law school, a student and teacher became involved (remember, this is the 70s!) I was honored when they asked me a year or 2 later to marry them — I was a notary so it was legal and really cool! When I went to the Supreme Court, one of the Justices was accused of destroying an opinion in a case (something to do with flushing the paper down the commode!), and, when I went to work for the Lt Governor’s office, he was brought up on charges of financial misconduct. He resigned before anything happened.
I moved further east to Jacksonville, where I worked for a blind judge. Now, that’s where my ethics really kicked into high gear! Without going into detail, each job was extremely valuable in learning about business, conduct, protocol, organization, politics, and life as a young woman in the real world. The bulk of my work was done using push-button or rotary phones, old dictation machines, typewriters or IBM Selectrics, and in some cases, Correcting Selectrics, a car, my brain, and common sense. We’ve come a long way to all the phone varieties, GPS, PDAs, iPODS, All-In-One printers, and computers in devices the size of a wallet.
Time for change came in 1977 when I realized I was chauffeuring my boss during off hours to parties serving up drugs of all kinds and to all ages who wanted them, only to see him again on the bench Monday mornings sentencing young men and women to jail for a 1/2 ounce of marijuana. He dated a girl younger than I was and I had barely turned 22. Although this was his life and his business, he was still a judge. Still selling drugs and sentencing poor saps. It wasn’t right. That’s when I hooked up the wagon and off I trotted out West to explore the land of opportunity!
Since then, I’ve seen assassinations, AIDS, learned what “alternative lifestyle” meant, and experienced San Francisco, minus the drugs, for all it had to offer. Office machines were becoming more advanced. I opened up my own business while working full time. My young son and I would take off on the weekends and go to Carmel or up to the wine country. I drove a Ford Pinto and cell phones were still a distant blimp on the radar.
In 1982 I owned one of the first, and only, Eagle word processors and soon added to that a personal IBM computer. We bought our first video camera, which was a large 2-part contraption that you also used to watch the video you had made earlier on your television. Sometime in the mid to late 80s I had bought my own car phone. What now seems so funny to me is that we had it installed in my new husband’s 1980 Mazda. Shortly after, we purchased an additional cell phone, which still seems funny now because it reminded me of the spy phone in the shoe! It was so BIG!
In my public relations firm, my art department actually had art materials! No computer programs out at this point, at least that we could afford, and when I worked on a design project, I used my X-acto knife, rulers, art pens, etc. to prepare the work for the cameras. This was in addition to printing out the type from a Compugraphics machine — an older model, at that.
We faxed all press releases to news wire services and had an account with local and a national clipping service. Computers were getting better, faxes were becoming included with printers and/or phones, scanners were now on the market (and when I say “on the market,” I mean for folks with small boutique services firms and unlimited budgets).
When the Internet came rolling on the scene in the 90s, you could feel there was no stopping technology then! Soon, we had PDAs, texting on cell phones, and the loss of personal service with numerical mapping on your phones to get to a particular department or person. Not quite sure if that’s progress or a 20 steps back in customer service.
What’s my point? Today we have Face book, LinkedIn, My Space, and Twitter, so if you’re not with the program now, you better run fast or you’ll never catch up! The days of sitting in my dad’s law office typing on his old Royal, playing with the blue slim, floppy, “records” for his dictation, or dialing, Hemlock 27499, are now gone.