Friday, February 29, 2008


That was a time in the late 1970's when I had been running my own business for 4 or 5 years, having to learn a lot of hard lessons, and doing o.k. but I wanted to meet more people and make more money. My ultimate goal was to move to a community that had begun in Illinois in '73 or so that was planning to become a self-sufficient place with industries, schools, the whole bit -- Stelle, outside of Chicago. The place is still there but the people and the emphasis has changed. All through the seventies you had to go through a committee and be accepted and you had to prove some ability to raise money.

So, I met some new friends and they were into Amway. Amway products made a great deal of sense. They concentrated their cleaners and other stuff so you didn't have to pay for shipping a lot of water. One ounce of concentrate made a gallon of product. The air deodorizer, for example, used one tiny spritz instead of spraying half the can.

This was a time when I began to realize, again, that people are not sensible, and I was the world's worst salesperson because I actually believed people THINK. Amway led to another company called NeoLife, out of Utah, selling vitamins and, because the company's origins were Mormon, long-term food storage, dehydrated, nitrogen-packed, and freeze dried foods. I got a little publicity over this, going around doing some fairs, doing mailings. My picture and a story actually made Newsday, the metropolitan newspaper. Have to show you the picture if I can find it again in my old files.

It was a nervous time in the country: a whole embassy was seized in Iran, there was a second gas shortage with long lines at the pumps. I began meeting some of these people called "survivalists": some of them were nuts but most of them were THINKERS. I even was on the radio one time getting interviewed with another "survivalist." There was a man named Howard Ruff wrote a book, The Coming Hard Times, something like that. The Stelle people put out a great newsletter called "Personal Preparedness." "Mother Earth News" kept growing in circulation. I had a six-month stockpile of foods when I finally moved out to Stelle in 1983.
1980 was the last year of survivalism.

Ronnie Regan, the cowboy on the white horse, rode into town and shot silver bullets into everyone's fears. Sales went down to zero. Sales had never been great anyhow, but at least the business had been slowly growing. When I moved out near Chicago I simply COULD NOT BELIEVE the idiocy of Americans as their continual investment in sprawling suburbia and massive sized homes lay before my astonished eyes in the ballooning suburbs of Chicago, the third or fourth fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. Even more astonishingly idiotic is the growth of places in the desert like Phoenix and Las Vegas. I hope all the suckers die of thirst, maybe then they'll finally learn.
Live and learn and stay alive.


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