Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pale Blue Folio

   Gloria, a close friend of ours, needed an amplifier and microphone for a small fundraising gathering ( Naturally, she sought me out. Normally I would have been at the event she was hosting but I had a musical engagement of my own that weekend that same evening. If I was going to her fundraising, I would have taken some equipment and set it up.
     As most of my equipment is bulky, I was trying to think of a low weight compact option for her. Eventually, I remembered that I had brought a very small Fender amp when I lived in Connecticut. Occasionally, I needed a to take an amp and oud into the city on the train. So, I needed something small and compact. I used it a lot when I was playing with the Nour Folk Ensemble. To add an element of coincidence, Bedross Der Matossian, Professor of History at the University of Nebraska who was to be the guest speaker at the fundraiser was in the Nour Folk Ensemble as well.
     To make a short story, more convoluted, I went in the basement and retrieved the black back with the small Fender amp in it. I retrieved a microphone and cable from a gig bag in the garage and thought to test it out to make sure it worked. I opened the black satchel and took the amp out. There was a muted royal blue, fake leather, 8.5x11 folio in the bag. I used that folio to carry the program notes and lyrics for Nour. It still had those notes and programs inside it. It was kind of cool and nostalgic… well as nostalgic as something eight or nine years ago can be. It made me reflect on the practices we used to have at NYU. I thought about Ayda Erbal who was the musical director and organizer of Nour. I thought of Ozan Aksoy the very talented ethnomusicologist who was so skilled on so many instruments and who brought and infused a Kardes Turkuler like style to our selections and arrangements. I thought of the concerts we did. I thought of my time in New York City. It was a good little journey down memory lane. It was amazing what finding something that I have not seen or used for eight years could trigger.
     It did not end there.
     The surprise came when I removed the last of the Nour concert notes in the folio to reveal a logo on the inside front cover of the folio. It was the oval logo of the Ford Motor Company. As my first full time job was at Ford, the wayback machine of my memory jumped back another thirty years to 1976. I had completely forgotten that this folio was from my days Ford which lasted until 1983.
     Ford always held a mystique in our family. My maternal Grandfather Levon, worked in the foundry until he retired in the mid or early 1960s. Ford Motor Company paid him a pension until he passed in 1974 and then continued to pay the same to my Grandmother until she passed away in 2007. The paid forty plus years of pension which may have actually been longer than my Grandfather actually worked there.
     I was so proud to have gotten that job. I loved the idea of the auto industry. I loved the idea of the Ford legacy and legend in and around Dearborn and Detroit. I thought I would work at Ford until I retired and was even more certain I would be some kind of bigwig there. After all, I was a Detroit boy. I grew up there and went to college there. I pretty much was doing what many of us thought we were supposed to be doing and what most certainly seemed like a natural progression. It did not turn out that way. There are no regrets at all. I was glad to have started at Ford and equally glad I worked at Colgate in New York City.
      Thanks to that benign folio, of which I have several simaler, I had a great and unexpected trip back to my Ford days and with co-workers like R.K. Jones, Arnie Campbell, Emil Ruta, Caroline Straub, and so many more. I remembered my bosses like Don Olson, Carlos Dominguez, and Ron Rieger. I remember sitting in the first Deming and Taguchi lectures as Ford was struggling with adopting quality principles and practices. I thought of starting work before PCs were invented. I reflected on our offices in the old Edison Elementary School that Ford bought and turned into offices. I thought of my summer job at Ford that Armen Topouzian arranged for in his department. I got wonderful experiences that set the basis for the rest of my corporate career. They were great memories of great days at a great company.
     I probably should go through more of my old stuff and see what else pops up.


  1. Great story of your past, Mark; it warmed my heart as a guy who is in the beginning years of his career.

    Also, I noticed you spelled Bedig's last name slightly incorrectly. It's Der Matossian, not Der Matiossian. My fastidious note is out of respect for maternal grandmother's maiden name, since Bedig's father is my late grandmother's brother. (I suppose that makes him my first cousin once removed ... right?)

  2. The Der Matossian name is now spelled correctly.
    Thanks for your kind comments and proofreading.

    1. Thanks!

      Correction in my comment: paternal grandmother, not maternal, as the Der Matossians hail from Marash, like the Karakashians of my paternal grandfather's side.