By Cam Oliver Lemmon
My life has been full of great experiences, and God-willing, will continue. I began my working career in 1972 when I was married [too] young, and my new husband and I had moved to Tallahassee Florida from the Florida beach community to the west where we grew up. Maybe one day I’ll get into family backgrounds, etc., but that’s not pertinent to this topic.
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 and the entire room was filled with the printing press! Oh! What a mess that was, but thankfully, I learned the process but sold the advertising. Back in those days, without computers, cell phones, or PDAs, I used index cards, a telephone directory, and a rotary dial telephone! Some of you are reading this asking, “What is that?”
Over the next 5 years, I worked at the FSU School of Law, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Department of Commerce for the Lieutenant Governor’s right hand man. My friends would make jokes because at that time 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 Lieutenant Governor’s office, he was brought up on charges of financial misconduct. He resigned before anything further happened and I moved further east to Jacksonville, Florida, where I worked for a blind county court judge. Now, that’s where my ethics first kicked in — and in high gear! Without going into detail each job was extremely valuable in terms of what I learned 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, dictation machines, typewriters or IBM Selectrics, and in some cases, Correcting Selectrics, a car, my brain, and common sense.
I had owned, along with my now ex-husband as of 1976, a Commercial Office and Street Cleaning business which we grew into having Tempco Truck sweepers. My first husband taught me the importance of hard work, striving to be better, building and keeping good credit, and staying organized.
Time for change came in 1977 when I realized I was chauffeuring my boss on off hours to parties serving up drugs of all kinds and to any aged girl or boy who wanted them, only to see him again on Monday mornings sentencing a man to jail for a 1/2 ounce of marijuana. He dated a girl younger than I was I had barely passed 22, and while 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 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 actual 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 a 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 limited budgets other than salaries for half a dozen employees.
When the Internet came rolling on the scene in the 90s, you could feel there was no stopping technology now! Soon, we had PDAs, texting on cell phones, and what my second husband had actually said to me once (“You know, wouldn’t it be great, and save time if we could call a company and there would be a menu of prerecorded choices you could select from?”) has now not only become a reality, it can also be a nightmare!
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.