I worked 24/7 my first 2 years in Memphis opening classes in Whitehaven, Jackson, Germantown then going to Arkansas starting new meetings in West Memphis and Jonesboro along with training members who had lost weight to come to work for us. It was called work but I was having a ball enjoying every moment. We eventually got an office and a staff to run it along with enough lecturers so we could start doing other things such as having  Weight Watchers cruises. They would be for 7 days in the Caribbean. We would arrange with the ship’s chef to have approved meals 3 times a day–and then we would sneak into the regular dining room and eat off their menu! I won’t even mention how many of the members we met at the Midnight Chocolate Buffet!

Both Bernie and I were invited to other franchises, either together or separately, to do open meetings, give training classes to their staff or, for instance, going to Little Rock, Arkansas, to help Myrna open her franchise and then again when Jean visited her area. Jean also visited our area and there was a big gala for her with our staff and our members . We would go to WW seminars, with all expenses either paid by WW International or WW of Memphis, in New York or Las Vegas, Miami or Los Angeles.

Talking about expenses, though I didn’t start to make big money until after the first year, from the first day I arrived in Memphis all my living expenses were paid for by the company. As I was the chef for our corporation, making up weekly menus and testing out recipes to print in our monthly newspaper or for handouts in classes, all the food I bought was billed to WW and, naturally, all car expenses including the monthly leasing payment was covered. Anytime we went out of town all my expenses were covered and every time we went out for dinner, and talked business which was every time, the company picked up the check. Due to TV appearances and newspaper interviews plus doing classes most of my clothes were paid for as were any expenses involved with people visiting the area to help us publicize WW such as one of my 100 pound losers from New York, Linda, came to visit as did Gene and Franco.

Franco was the chef for Weight Watchers International and we became close friends. He was an amazing guy, great looking, funny and yet had the biggest inferiority complex of anyone I knew. When someone cruised–and he was constantly being cruised–him he thought there had to be something wrong with the person who was attracted to him! He and I were interviewed by “The Hustler” newspaper in Mississippi with our picture on the front page and he had it blown up life size to hang in his home.

We went to New York, 4 times, all paid by the company, twice for WW seminars, once for the Christmas holidays and then for the 10th Gala Weight Watchers Anniversary at Madison Square Garden. Each time I got caught up with Addie, Joan, Ronnie, Gene, Mary and other friends plus the tourist part of seeing as many shows as I could.

Back in Memphis I talked Bernie into letting the company make sizable donations to theatres in the area plus St. Jude’s hospital and I got involved with the March of Dimes. We got prime seats for the St. Jude Shower of Star show with Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis. After Bernie’s ex took the children and moved back to New York I started to draw a good salary and would get an additional salary from the Chattanooga corporation when we opened there. We would eat at the 5 star Justine’s restaurant and other top restaurants in Memphis and wherever we travelled.

Life was great and all the stars were aligned for me. I was growing up with the help of Joe Cassius, I was making more money faster than I could spend it and in 1972 I started taking my July 15-August 15 vacations going to Hawaii, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora, Auckland, Sidney, Cairns, Melbourne, San Fransisco and back to Memphis.

A lot of things happened in 1973 from that ‘contract’ I signed to breaking up with Bernie and then meeting someone else but I still had many memories to make with Weight Watchers from October 1973 to September 1974.


Franco and I being interviewed


Posted July 17, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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