Archive for the ‘BUSINESS’ Tag




I take complete responsibility for the failure of Our Weigh and I learned a lesson that I already knew but hadn’t put to the test–I was a lousy business man! :O)

Notes added while I type this today are in parenthesis.

January 1  I did a class in West Memphis–ice on the streets  (I don’t doubt my diary notes but a class on New Year’s Day when it is cold and ice on the streets? Did anyone show up?)

January 5-9  3-4″ snowstorm followed by an ice storm–no classes (no money coming in)

January 18  To Atlanta to see “A Chorus Line” 3 times with Chuck, Chuck (from Chattanooga?), Tommy, Nina and Jean (Money going out and not coming in.)

February 6-7 3″ snow (Nothing about classes being cancelled or what days these are)

February 17  snowed again another 3″– really hurting business

February 28  Pepe called to wish me a happy birthday (My first live with lover–The last time I would hear from or about him)

March 23  Betty Tribble quit (I had now lost 3 of the original ladies who came with me from Weight Watchers)

March 25  Gwen called from Chattanooga about resigning (I have no idea who she is/was)

April 13 Had to close Jonesboro class

May 1 diagnosed with arthritis in my neck (Proved to be wrong)

May 5  Tommy, Chuck, Bob Brice and I went to see Diana Ross

May 16 Tommy, his mother, Chuck and I went to see The Village People in concert  (Tommy’s mother was great–wish I could remember her name–it was different.)

May 17 took over the Forrest City class–very short on help–will have to close classes

June 11 Gwen did resign–I think, mentally again, that this is the beginning of the end

June 17 Dr. K, Chuck, Tommy and I went down to Mississippi and I went water skiing for the first (and last) time getting chased by a water moccasin snake

June 28 Took Dr. K. to the Cafe St. Clair for his birthday along with Tommy, Chuck and Johnny–I got smashed

June 30 I am making plans to leave Memphis at end of July. (I really loved Memphis and wanted to stay but not being either Black or a female I wouldn’t be able to get a servers job–remember this was the 1970s and though the South was changing it was a slow change–besides my ego wouldn’t allow me to stay.)

July 21 Sold the business to Helen for $5,000–getting ready to leave for Ft. Lauderdale next Saturday (I would have taken less–I was just desparate to leave and needed ‘traveling’ money and I had run the business into the ground)

July 28-30  Left for Ft. Lauderdale with Bill Hall who helped me move and drove the stick shift truck which, just ask Chuck, I couldn’t drive–arrived in Fort Lauderdale Monday 7/30/79. (I was originally going to return to Miami Beach but at that time there was moratorium on building, South Beach had gone way down hill–this was before it became SOUTH BEACH!–and Joe and Albyn told me to go to Fort Lauderdale instead–they being my ‘parents’ I listened and have never regretted it.)


The life I had known was over and once again I was starting new but this time I knew who I was–I was 43 years old, had some money to tide me over, was in a way relieved. I rented a car, found an apartment and now was waiting for Chuck and Tommy to bring my car down.







Posted August 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,


January 1977 was a mess weather wise–there was a combination of snow, sleet, rain and ice on the 2nd, 6th, 9th and just snow on the 18th and 19th. It was just cold–5 degrees–on the night of the 17th. There is no way to describe what happens in Memphis when it snows. I can start with the drivers who drive like a bat out of Hell to get home and cause more accidents in one hour than would happen all month! Needless to say our classes were empty and we lost money.

Margie quit in March and by August Johnny and I were finished  with his eventually moving out November 6 and the cherry on the top was I came down with gonorrhea! Oh, and I got a speeding ticket in September! Yes, things were falling apart and adding injury to insult I was alone on New Year’s Eve and I had heard whatever you were doing at Midnight on New Year’s Eve you would be doing the rest of the coming year.

1977 wasn’t all bad. During the year I saw Tom Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and Bette Midler in concerts, had a mini affair with a guy named Perry for a couple of months but I have no pictures of him, have no idea who he was/is and I don’t remember a thing about him but according to my diary we went to plays, movies, ate in the best restaurants and slept together quite a bit. On December 27, coming back from Covington ( after doing a class? Having dinner with Johnny’s family? Diary doesn’t say but…) my car broke down near the Millington Naval training place and 2 sailors stopped to help me and I thanked them by inviting them to stay at my place when the came to Memphis. Each did, separately, and the rest is history. I did a post a couple of years ago about Dr.K/Bob, who was the choir director at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, traveled over the world with the Robert Shaw chorale, sang on the Perry Como show, looked like aworldclassconductordressed in his tux and looked like stud of the year in his jeans and plaid shirt when cruising the park. We weren’t soul mates but soul brothers. Bob gave me a gingerbread house for Christmas, the first I ever had and to this day I remember it, how it tasted and every time I see one I think of him and recall the smell when I opened box.

We opened in Pocahontas and Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, but at the same time we had to change our Raleigh meeting room. I went to a Positive Thinking Seminar and on my summer vacation. This was the year that I took the trip to St. Louis with Dr. K to see “A Chorus Line” and life was moving along. I was still having the weekly orgies and people were still responding to my Advocate ad. In July the police went on strike in Memphis and the city was on a curfew but somehow or other Dr. K came home with a couple of them. I had a frightening thing happen on August 29. I was returning from my class in Covington, was stopped at a railroad crossing and somehow or another my car came out of ‘park’ and smashed into the train and spun the car, and me, 360 degrees. I was so mad that I got out of the car and kicked the door until I realized that I could have been killed. The front was smashed in but somehow or another it started up and I was able to drive it totheShell station on the corner of Park Avenue and White Station Road. The next day it was declared totaled by the insurance company. By the way I didn’t have a drink that night.

The beginning of the end, or the realization that things were wrong, was when I got a station wagon, which is so unlike me, but the accountant said that I could claim I was using it for business so that Our Weigh could pay for it. The following week I took Bobby, Ronnie, Larry to Pallazino’s to celebrate Issac’s birthday and the ladies in the office got teed off as did the accountant. I was being questioned about spending money for the first time but it should have happened from the first day!

A very strange thing that I can’t figure out why there was so little mention of Chuck unless I didn’t meet him until after Johnny and I broke up but that doesn’t seem right. I mention Charlie from Spartanberg, Charlie Lee, a Chuck Cagle, a Charles from Chattanooga but no Memphis Chuck. There is a comment about driving up to see Dr. K in Carbondale with ‘2 plus Tommy Stewart’! The first mention I have of Chuck (along with his last name) is on October  18 but that was in relationship for our trip to Dallas with Tommy and Charles Cagle to see, yes, “A Chorus Line” and after that there are a lot of mentions of Chuck. It is hard for me to believe I only knew him for a year before I left Memphis.

On December 1, 1978, the entry states, “Business very bad–I am broke–having book sale”–1979 would bring to a close one of the best, and certainly the best financial, decade of my life.




Posted August 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

7 DECADES SERIES PART 10 C   Leave a comment

1975 to 1976 were good years for the business and for me. Though I had skipped one summer of my month vacation I was making trips to Houston, New York, Atlanta, Tampa, Detroit, Houston and New Orleans. Those were the years I became a “A Chorus Line” junkie going to a city, say St. Louis, on a Thursday and seeing the show Thursday, Friday and Saturday night along with a Saturday and Sunday matinee.

In 1977 I got into my convertible, put the top down and with Damon’s Guide and the AAA traveling book I took off for the southeast stopping where and when I wanted for as long as I wanted. I went to Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas and back to Memphis. In 1978 it was Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and then through Texas and Arkansas.

Oh, I forgot which trip it was on but Johnny and I were in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and went to Lloyd’s Coach House where if you ate a Shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato and a 72 ounce steak in an hour they paid the check. I have the original check marked “PAID” and has the “Coach House, Inc” seal imprinted on it. I do remember that was after I was on a radio show talking about dieting!!!

Though money was still coming in I wasn’t getting as much I was at Weight Watchers and I was still spending like I did when I was there. Also, another mistake I made was letting the Memphis girls invest in the business and partially because of that I felt if I gave one more pay I had to give them all more pay. I, well the company, was buying them lunches and dinners, got them all personal business cards and stationary. There was also the lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, expenses traveling back and forth to Chattanooga and many expenses that I just took for granted when WW paid for them.

One of the big highlights of those years was going to see “A Chorus Line” for the first time. I had just seen the Tony awards of TV and their number blew me away. To this day I remember sitting in the second row of the Shubert Theatre in New York unable to move when the house lights came up at the end of the show. I felt completely drained as if I had lead each of the lives up on that stage! Due to Dr. K and Buddy Victor, the latter played Zach on tour, I was able to go to the performance celebrating “ACL” becoming the longest running show on Broadway 9 years later. I thought nothing would ever be as exciting, moving, draining as the first time I saw it but that performance will never be equalled in any theatre by anyone,

April 7th, 1978 Bob (Dr. K) and I, along with Doug who I met through the Advocate ad, went up to St. Louis  for a weekend of “ACL” and we stayed at the Holiday Inn near the Opera House and so did the cast of “ACL”! I was in heaven  but, and this may be hard to believe if you know anything about me, though I had the chance to have sex with a couple of the cast members I wouldn’t because I identified them to much with the character they played on stage. How could I go to bed with Paul when all I wanted to do was hold him?!?!?

October 18-22 Chuck, Glen, Tommy and I went to Dallas and guess what–yes, spent the weekend seeing “ACL”. The funny thing that weekend was that we wrapped Tommy in a red bow, and nothing else, for Chuck to come back to the hotel room and see his ‘present’.

Okay, this is suppose to be about Our Weigh and not “ACL” but as you can see I was spending money like water as I usually did but, even though I wasn’t making what I did at WW, I was letting more out than I was taking in. The same thing was true about the business.  And then there was my 10th Leap Year birthday party that I was having at the Hilton Hotel for 350 of my closest friends–of which I only remember about 10 today. Most of the people I cared for didn’t come and the bottom line was that I probably wouldn’t have remembered as I was drunk that whole night. Luckily I have a lot of pictures from that evening. No one, not Bernie, Clara, Bella, Bonnie and others I invited came, which didn’t surprise me but hurt.

Now I have my diaries from 1976 on and there is one entry for February 3, 1976, that says,”Last few weeks been talked to by Barbara and Margie saying that Carole is talking about taking her money out of the company and if she goes she won’t go quietly.”  Carole did ask for her investment back and I paid her on the 5th but she stayed, at least for awhile. When I sat down with Fred, our accountant, he said our monthly statements showed a big loss for November and December, which was expected because people aren’t concerned with diets between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. We had shown a small profit for January, again expected as the New Year’s resolutions are made!

Along with all I was doing for Our Weigh I wasn’t neglecting my social life as I have a lot of entries like; April 30, 1976, Johnny and I went to see Neil Diamond at the Colisuem, had dinner with Gene Crain and and Jack Heilzman May 9, went to see “The Bad Seed” at Theatre Memphis, made a trip to Buloxi for a weekend, not to forget going to endless movies, plays and other concerts but along with the good comes the bad.

We had sold a franchise to James Parker in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1974 and now he wanted out so along with Carole wanting her investment we were caught ‘short’ but still moving along.

I started going back to Joe Cassius because my drinking was becoming a problem to the extent I was doing things that I had never done before like not going into the office, missing classes and I needed to stop that. Also Johnny was having bad back and neck problems and was going to the hospital. Life was crashing and I wanted to stop it from happening.

In August of 1976 I got a call from a Weight Watcher franchisee telling me that Bernie was trying to sell his franchise to Joe Folender, which took me by surprise as I knew we were hurting WW but I didn’t think that much nor would Bernie let me ‘win’ by giving up. He didn’t.

Finally got the settlement from Weight Watchers and that was the last ‘contact’ I had with Bernie for many years.

On January 1, 1977, we had snow, sleet, rain and ice–not a good beginning for the year which was just a sign for the next 2 years.


Posted August 22, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

7 DECADES SERIES PART 10 B JOHNNY   Leave a comment

Awhile back I did a post on Johnny (and I wrote about him in my book, “Letting It All Hang Out”) but I can’t seem to find it and my diaries regarding our years have ‘disappeared’ so a lot of this is from memory. He was a country boy living in Covington with his parents and a sister 15-20 years younger than him–yes you read it right–and he was 11 years younger than me and not to forget that I was closer to his mother in age than I was comfortable with. I call our few years together ‘The country boy takes the city slicker’. I’m not going into the whole story but will try to give a picture of our relationship.

Johnny without a doubt was one of the most artistic people I ever knew. When he moved in with me I never knew what the townhouse would look like when I came home because he was always redecorating it, each time better than the last. We met in a bar but he wouldn’t come home with me when I asked him. In a sense I had to woo him which I did and enjoyed doing.

He wasn’t making much money working as a window designer for Sears–or so I thought–and when we met I was having the money pouring in and didn’t mind spending it. I paid for most of our dinners in restaurants though he did pick up a check now and then when we went to less expensive places. Our first trip together was on Christmas weeknd when we flew to Las Vegas staying at the Hilton. There weren’t any good shows so I suggested we go to Los Angeles, rent a car and go to Laguna Beach, Hollywood and Malibu, which we did with me picking up the bills. Don’t get the wrong idea as I didn’t mind, I had the money, and it was fun seeing the places I was familiar with through his eyes. We went on a trip to New York,  to see “A Chorus Line”, which is an event I will never forget and it was also the beginning of the end for us. I was drinking to the point that I checked out of the hotel after a few days, paying the bills, fledbacktoMemphisviaAtlantawhere I lost a very expensive London fog raincoat. I arrived home in an ice storm and slipped on the steps leading to my place and busting my head open not going to the hospital until the next day after getting blood all over.  Oh don’t feel sorry for Johnny as I had left him with an ‘old’ man who I introduced to him at the Ballroom where we had gone to see Charles Pierce. It’s a long story but just let’s say that Johnny had a ‘thing’ for older men with money and I was getting low on the latter.

Johnny was a tremondous help getitng Our Weigh off on track by clerking at classes, expressing confidence that it would be a success and helping the women get to and from classes plus making whatever improvements needed in the office, meeting place and other locations.

The best thing I got from Johnny was a feeling what a family was. I spent holidays with his parents, sister and grandparents with the latter being very warm to me and laughing as I helped pick greens in the field. When I told his grandmother that I loved her turkey dressing she always made  an extra pan just for me whenever we went there to eat. Holidays there felt, and looked like, a Norman Rockwell cover on the Saturday Evening Post. I experienced  things I never experienced as a child and they allowed me to become one along with all the cousins running around.

We did a lot of traveling together separate from Our Weigh and when he could get away from Sears. I did not take a summer vacation in 1975 but Johnny and I did get to Disney World over the July 4th weekend and the following week I went to a TA seminar in New Orleans where I remember seeing the opening of the movie “Jaws”. In 1976 I was back to taking my monthly vacation and drove to Duluth to see Ginny and her family stopping in Louisville, Cinncinatti,  Indianapolis, Michigan City and Chicago where Johnny joined me for a few days. He flew back to Memphis and I went on to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, finally Dullth and then returned via Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Before that trip was the gala 10th Leap Year birthday I gave at the Hilton in Memphis and his parents came. After that trip I made a couple of trips to Houston. On November 6, 1976, I came back from my trip to Houston to find out that Johnny had moved out. Did I forget to mention that the old man from NYC who lived in Canada came to Memphis to see Johnny? It was over after it was over but neither of us knew how to end it.

Still talking about Johnny but digressing a little–I did something with him that I never did before or since him. I was faithful for 6 months which is something I committed myself to and kept that committment surprising the hell out of me and I never told anyone. It was on a trip 7 months later, on a trip to Chattanooga, that I rationalized, “At least it wasn’t in Memphis.” For awhile I didn’t play around at home but that would change and one after he came home to find me with Issac. He wasn’t mad that I was having sex with someone else but that I was having sex with a Black man! Look it was the South, 1973 and that was what he was taught as a child. I am glad to say that by the time we split up he had changed somewhat about that and I always thought that he made it with Issac a couple of years later after that date. I know he had sex with Art when the latter came down and I always wondered if he eventually had sex with Bernie butthatwouldhavebeena spite bit on both their parts. And , oh yes, he had sex with Franco after the latter asked permission.

Johnny continued to work for Our Weigh after we split and he was there the day I left Memphis. He moved to Dallas with an older, wealthy guy and I understand he has been with another older guy the past 15 years. It is hard to believe he is now 65. Wonder if he is still as hunky looking as he was back then? LOL


Posted August 21, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,


My last day at Weight Watchers was September 30, 1974, and the next day I signed a lease for an office and meeting place on Summer Avenue not too far from the WW office. Seven of the ladies from Weight Watchers left there and joined me either to work in the office and/or be lecturers with all having experience and a following.  Also I knew I could depend on Johnny to help me.

I did many things wrong as a business man and quickly came to appreciate Bernie’s acumen at running a business and I will talk more about my learning something I already knew but didn’t heed–I was not good at business! The first mistake I made was renting a hall at too high a rent and then not having the sense to get the landlord to make improvements. I hired a contractor to make the office in front of the hall a show place and to add very private weighing in booths, buying 5 Detecto scales along with shelves for the clerks to write what information was needed and a lecture hall in the rear. I bought 4 desks and chairs plus the latest in phone equipment. It’s a good thing computers weren’t being used that much or I would have gone computer mad. There was an elaborate signing in desk to be used for meetings. There are arguments for and against going first class when opening a business but I should have gone in between.

To give Johnny his due he did make a lot of things in the office such as shelves for Barbara and he did design and decorate the front office which was really impressive.

Our first class at the new place was going to be held on October 30 and I knew to expect a ‘visit’ from Weight Watchers International which was understandable. I, also, knew Bernie would send in ‘spies’. The ladies who came with me were harassed with law suits but by the time we opened all was settled and we had won.

Our opening was jam packed with a line out to the street. Yes, I recognized a couple of the WW executives from New York, plus a franchisee who I thought was a friend of mine but I realized this was business and they didn’t want me to succeed and possibly open in their territory. Being the nice guy I was/am I invited them to come in, observe, take any literature they wanted, without having to pay to join. We had a very full week with all the meetings being well attended and I knew I had hurt WW’s income.

The first year of business was super but I was making more mistakes. I opened too many classes in too many different locations and stretched everyone and everything too thin but it wasn’t obvious to start.

I started a monthly “Our Weigh” newspaper and we handed out menu charts with recipes along with Barbara, Carole and I getting cookbooks together.

One of our biggest costs, but we felt it paid off, was hiring a new advertising agency Jan Gardner and Associates who taped video commercials of me ‘selling’ the “I always said if I found an easier, better way of losing weight I would be the first to tell you. I have and I am. Our Weigh.” I never did get copies of those tapes or I could be doing a “Norma Desmond” today–if you don’t know who she was just ask! LOL Sadly I googled Jan’s name and it seems she passed away awhile back. It also looks like her business did very good.

By 1975 we had opened classes all over Shelby County plus West Memphis and Jonesboro, Arkansas, plus Jackson, Tennessee and were expanding into Mississippi after opening in Chattanooga.


How do you like our stationary? My idea!


Posted August 15, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,



The last time I saw Bernie was in October, 1974, in a courtroom and the last time I had any communication with him (and that was many years later) was when he, I and our  lawyers sat in a room and I looked him directly in the eyes and said, “Bernie, I am sorry but it is all over. No more games. As of this morning I told Billy to drop the suit, that I want nothing more from or with you so find someone else to play games with,” and I walked out with my lawyer behind me. Earlier in the day I went to Billy’s office and told that I didn’t want to go on with the lawsuit to get my fair share of the business from Bernie and WW. He felt with all the ‘proof’ we had such as my attending franchisee owner’s only meeting, working with franchise owners all over the world, the papers I had where Bernie was going to divide everything plus–remember we are dealing with lawyers here LOL–my being able to show that   WW wouldn’t allow 2 guys to own anymore franchises was a lie, which would ‘out’ a few owners, which I told Billy I would never do. It was over but certainly not ever forgotten. He said that I was literally walking away from millions if not just a big settlement. I told him all I wanted was my profit sharing, bonus and other monies owed me, which came to about $25,000. Choosing between money and getting on with my life, opening the new business, continue what I loved doing and eliminating ‘games’ in my life was worth more.

I learned a lot during those years with WW and while  most was good a few things here and there weren’t. I won’t get into the company getting into frozen products like ice cream or taking a part of the plan to have more failures so more people would have to rejoin–that was all a part of ‘big business’. One of eye awakening things that happened was when I got involved with the March of Dimes representing Weight Watchers of Memphis. I don’t recall whether I was on the ‘Board’ or just a volunteer but I don’t remember doing anything for them. One day I got an invitation to come and “Celebrate our Volunteers”. Long story short was that they were inviting, and paying for, thousands of volunteers from all over the States. When I called about making plane and hotel reservations I was shocked to learn that the ‘charity’ was picking up everything, including meals. This was to take place in New York City. Now I threw a party in 1976 for 350 people that cost  over $14,000 and though the MOD convention was a couple of years before that I have no idea of how many thousands it cost which could have/should have gone into research. I immediately resigned and ever since then I have given donations and/or time to individuals or local organizations that I could ‘look’ in to and see where my time and money was going.

So many things happened in the year of 1974 such as the Madison Square celebration for WW’s 10th anniversary, Franco Palumbo, the WW International chef, and I becoming close and yet he couldn’t have anything to do with my opening of Our Weigh which I understood. There was the trip Flo and Ritchie made by car with a revolver under the seat along with $10,000 they were lending me and Bernie, being aware of what was happening, treated them graciously. There was a franchise owner from the northeast who came down to visit Bernie and he made a pass at Johnny! There was the realization that as soon as I left WW I would lose people who were friends, not only in Tennessee and Arkansas but franchisees from all over the country. I do remember one being shocked to find out that Bernie and I had been more than business partners!


For many years, even when we were together at the beginning, I referred to Bernie not as my lover but as my hater. We had met at a time in both our lives that we were destructive towards others and ourselves and served that purpose for each other especially to play ‘games’ with each. It would take a long time for me to understand that he really loved me, that I had deeply hurt him but eventually I stopped with that hater line. I came to see that Bernie had given me a lot, yes mainly financially, and had made it possible for me to get the therapy that made me lead a good, positive life for ever after. Twenty-twenty five years later Bernie was still playing games. He would come to Fort Lauderdale and call me when he knew I wasn’t home–I use to have on my answering machine the best times to call me and he never called during those hours–and would just say he would like to see me but never left a phone number or a place where he was staying so I could call him back. In a way it left me sad because he was still playing games and I didn’t have the chance to thank him for all he exposed me to or to say, “Bernie, I’m sorry.”

Bernie Abraham died in Memphis this past February being laid to rest on my 19th Leap Year Birthday, February 29, 2012. REST IN PEACE, AND THANK YOU, BERNIE.

Bernie and I 1971 in  Memphis

Posted August 14, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: