Sunday, November 13, 2016
A Man of Influence ((Adolph Schuman) (Lilli Ann)) 1968-‘69
A Man of Influence
((Adolph Schuman) (Lilli Ann)) 1968-‘69
Prologue: Now and then he’d come out of his international, political and influential box to mingle with us common folks, perhaps to see if he was still human, he was once only a truck driver, like Elvis, but I doubt he ever forgot his roots, the Hungarian-Jew, Adolph Schuman, born 1907, died 1985. Owned Lilli Ann clothing, out of San Francisco. A dear friend to John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, who lived on Nob Hill, who made in his last decade between $40 to 53-million dollars a year today he’d be considered a billionaire. This story is brief, but I got to meet him on five different occasions, more like bumping into him, but the story is worth telling, for he was my boss.
As when I first met him, he gave off a discerning affection which gave to me the effect of emphasizing his undeniable striking features, dominated by dark and penetrating eyes and a shiny bronze—sun-glazed—skin, with an overall confident look of impact. Yes, he had great wealth and influence, and intellect, and will. One could see why men like JFK, fell under his spell, and friendship.
I was twenty-years old when I first met him, worked for him in San Francisco, at Lilli Ann. He asked me to join him at his table for lunch one afternoon, at a Chinese Restaurant. I hesitated, but I left my booth and joined him and his little white dog, and his entourage. Among his staff was the manager and assistant manager, whom I got along with both quite well, the manager being of Jewish origin. I kind of stood by the table a moment, not sure why, then he smiled and nodded for me to sit down. I was kind of short-winded, taken by surprise, you know, taken off guard. My heart was pounding as if I had suddenly had to fall. I had always thought of him a bit elegantly stiff. Typically contemptuous. But he was my boss and I respected that.
“Go ahead and eat,” he proposed, after I had seemed to drift off into wonderland, as a half dozen of us sat around the table. It was as if he had waited for me to eat before he would. And I suppose he saw me as waiting to eat as soon as I found a favorable wind. And then I did start eating and became more at ease. I briefly explained I was a Midwestern lad, from St. Paul, Minnesota, and was working on a karate belt, with the famous Gogen Yamaguchi (‘The Cat’) and his son Goesi Yamaguchi, in the style of Goju-kai, and of course, working at his clothing factory, which he of course already knew. But I really didn’t have much more to talk about.
My dismay must have shown in my expressions, for once at a whim he fired me on the spot for handling his fabrics in an impulsive way, he was very fussy about his materials; and an hour later the manager hired me back. Perhaps he was asking me to overlook that little incidental, mishap. Who’s to say? On Christmas, 1968, he gave me a bottle of scotch, I sold it for $10.00, it was the best I suppose of its kind, but I never drank scotch. Once his beautiful model, with a pearl ring as big as a quarter, was chasing Adolph around the factory, and he told me to hold the door tightly shut, when she came around, and when she came around, she looked at me with devil cat eyes, and said, “Back off from the door…!” And I did, I mean I didn’t want to get an object in the face like Hillary did to Bill Clinton, at the White House, eons ago. So she waved be aside and I stepped aside.
I kind of pictured him as a sheer shadow of willpower. I know when he went to Paris to pick out his fabric he was quite, particular, and I knew his clothes were all in the top fashion magazines. And his clothing was expensive. Matter of fact, I had a Lilli Ann dress made for my mother by the seamstresses, of Lilli Ann, for nothing, only the price of the fabric at cost, and without the label, which was the most costliest. And sent it to my mother. She was so happy.
I know after Adolph died, his family ran the business to the 1990s, and it was closed in 2000 A.D., and I know he was a charitable man. He often reminded me of Albert Ritt, another millionaire I worked for in Minnesota, he and I got along quite well, we’d sit in his office and talk some. He too, liked to—now and then, come out of the selective box, to mingle with us folks, in the real world ((his gross fixed assets were over $500-milllion, his net worth, I’m not sure, in the mid-1990s)(in comparison, in 2000, mine were 1.3-GFA)).
But let me close this story by saying, I think these two people, rich people, rich as they were, with all their influence, knew: something others have forgotten: what is it worth of human life, unless it is all woven into both sides of the box, if indeed you are given the chance to be one among the many.