Sunday, June 19, 2011

Possibly Why I'm Here

It's Father's Day.

How I got to be is something I never think about. I don't believe any of us like to think of fathers and mothers in that way. It's just yucky.

But, I am resigned to the fact that it must have happened, in my family's case, at least four times.

My first memories of my father were of him carrying me through the house upside down by my ankles, with me laughing hysterically. He was big and strong and built stuff, smoked big cigars, made wine and had the coolest workbench in the basement. One of my last memories of him was during a shopping trip. I stopped at a store in the mall to buy a bolo tie. He walked up and asked how much it was and upon finding out his eyebrows went up at the price and said, "Geez, buy a dozen." He was a frugal man of few words.

A few weeks later he was gone. The loss was huge. How could it not be?

The only thing I nabbed at the time of his funeral was a bottle of Old Spice from his medicine cabinet. I don't know why exactly. It has sat in my medicine cabinet since then... what, it must be twenty-two years now...

Dad always had the aura of Old Spice around him. And as I got further into business I looked up the history of the brand. Turns out it was a father and son story as well...

William Schultz and his son George founded the Shulton Company in 1934 at the height of the depression. Schultz Sr. made and sold private label toiletries but was convinced that he needed to come up with a trademarked product that could be mass marketed. He convinced a bank in New York to let him use some vacant office space it owned and his contacts in the department stores not only placed orders on the basis of some sketches, but extended credit based on future sales. Back at his office, he developed a fragrance from a memory of a rose jar his mother kept in the house, a combination of roses, herbs and spices. Early American Old Spice for Women was first introduced in 1937. Shulton introduced a few items for men in time for Christmas in 1938. Sales at the end of 1939 were $3 million. When William passed away in 1950 his son George took over. Shulton grew and by 1970, sales were $130 million. In 1990, Shulton was sold to Procter and Gamble and in 2008, the original Old Spice scent was advertised with the words: "The original. If your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist."

Which probably explains why I had that mysterious urge to snatch that bottle from his medicine cabinet... possibly, it's why I'm here.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Your secret is safe with me.

Old Spice® is a registered trademark of Procter and Gamble.


  1. This brings back so many memories of my own father, who received Old Spice from me for Fathers Day at least six years in a row. The last few years, I felt anxious. It wasn't an original gift, or unusual, or different from the previous year. My father would unwrap it, take the bottle out, and smile. My anxiety would evaporate.

    And he would smell good all year.

  2. Great story - good memories!