Uncle Mort Writes Again

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Central to my Uncle Mort’s colorful life–now stretching over two centuries–are his scatter-brained decisions to “go off fourth-cocked,” even when “half-cocked” action might be preferable. Someone said that he’d be ahead of the game if he’d “keep his gun holstered,” even if his trigger finger gets itchy.

Forget the holstered part; that’s simply not going to happen. My aged kin–long since the king of dreams dominated by dollar marks–feels that there’s money to be made in advertising, specifically for all of us who are finding it to be complicated to get from Point A to Point B on a daily basis.

Dr. Don Newbury

“There’s a reason I’ve put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my man cave,” he said. “The transportation industry needs my help. And so do most of the others.”

His thoughts may have merit. Airlines are having a hard time keeping schedules and buses seem to be from another age. Looks like most Americans have taken to automobiles, even with higher costs associated therewith that include insurance, repairs and traversing many highways that  have “under construction” signs posted permanently.

Mort sprang into action when he read the other day that airline boardings in 2022 ran 10 percent under the pre-COVID year of 2019.

He mentioned Greyhound’s campaign mounted in the mid-1950s, urging folks to garage their cars, leaving driving to them. You probably remember the jingle that urged folks to “skip the fuss and take the bus.” The slogan seemed to be center stage in Greyhound’s print and electronic ads for more than four decades.

Mort figures that automobile dealerships probably will holler “sic’em,” confident that most folks may experience “less fuss” as they move about the country, or simply their neighborhood. (One business traveler says he has started driving again because he doesn’t have time to fly.)

When we talked the other day, Mort seemed torn between striving to become an ad writer or a “I’m gargling to keep my voice crisp and reading up on sports cliches,” he said. “But if Tom Brady can sign a Fox contract of $375 million for telling viewers about football games for 10 seasons, there may be a future there for me.”

I’m tempted to advise him to “dream on.” But I still have respect for my elders, and in his case, my “eldest.”

Uncle Mort

Maybe the ad route might fit Mort best. He showed me his first ad draft, one that still needs some work.

“At airports and bus stations, problems abound. Jump in your car and stay close to the ground.” He rolls on that driving now seems to be the “lesser of three evils.”

Mort is also moving forward on a venture into the world of tattoos. “Pretty soon, unique ankle tattoos may be all the rage, particularly for aging men,” he said.

He claims that his unlikely interest came with the growing frustration of putting on his socks each morning.

“Wait’ll you hear this, nephew,” he said. “I’m working on a tattoo kit so old guys can paint their ankles in the solid colors of their choice. That way, others will think they are wearing socks.”

Clever ads may be Mort’s “thing.” After all, Warren Buffett made “walking around” money composing rhymes for Burma-Shave signs seen on fence posts around the country. 

Mort says one website business pays “green money” for slogans and ad ideas. He saw one recently on a swimming pool supply truck. It claimed to have employees who enjoy “pooling around.”

I hope Mort tiptoes into ad writing. Six Flags over Texas got a black eye decades ago with a claim that if Alice visits Six Flags, she’ll have no use for Wonderland. How were the “sloganeers” to know that one of their billboards went up near Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo? Understandably, management of the regional amusement park took umbrage at the soon-to-be-removed billboard.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and former university president who has written weekly since 2003. Phone: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury.

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