A Class ACT

Joe Ball of Advertising & Communications Times and I have been working together for 25-30 years. Neither of us can really remember when I began doing the print-production layout for his marketing-based newspaper, but in a brief meeting at the end of February in his Bala Cynwyd office we reminisced about everything that is ACT.

Joe is stepping away from publishing ACT, a true act of love that he started in 1976, and for me one of my most steady freelance customers for nearly three decades. I remember when I began with Joe he gave me old waxed paste-up mechanicals to scan ads from, and I created the page layouts digitally using Quark Xpress (1.x!). Over the years we changed printers a couple of times, and brought the paper into the full digital age (even posting full editions on his website). Throughout it all Joe was a class act, and always showed true concern for me and my business.

In this meeting, I experienced that same concern as I pulled a chair up alongside his wooden desk. It’s the same desk he and I have spoken over many times during our history. He asked how I was doing at school, both teaching and taking classes, and we talked about my growing family (marriages, grandbabbies, everything). His questions flowed from genuine interest and were sharp and crisp, a skill that allowed him to build a 70+-year publishing and advertising agency career.

He talked about ceasing publication, something I had anticipated since the end of 2016, but I still took it hard when I heard it said out loud. I consider ACT to be iconic in Philadelphia; a testament to one man’s desire to report news and events that mattered to our local advertising/publishing world. I am truly sad to see it end.

As the afternoon was coming to an end, Joe gave me a dusty bottle of brandy. He explained the story behind the bottle, that it was from one of his agency’s clients from the 70s. He said he used to give them out as holiday gifts to the media outlets back in the day, and then laughed softly saying, “you can’t do that sort of thing now.” The PA Liquor Control Board label on it is dated 1956, and he said I might be able to sell it for a couple hundred dollars. I told him I would never sell it, and that it will sit on a shelf in my office for as long as I have an office.

Then, just as our meeting today – and every meeting we’ve ever had – began, I shook his hand. It was as firm and confident as the first day I met him some 30 years ago. “You still got the best handshake in the business,” I told him, “now, go and enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.”

I’m proud of the work I’ve done for Joe, and I’ll miss collaborating on ads and stories in each issue. But I’m prouder to call him a friend.

 

About Author: jspaone

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