Schulenberg’s Page: Aspirational Thinking and Mind Over Matter

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Rick Horton, my young friend from North Carolina, had changed his college major from Engineering to Pre-Law and the was going to be spending the summer working with the North Carolina Supreme Court.

He’d come to Manhattan for a quick trip and joined Beth Rudin, David Columbia and me for lunch at Greenwich Village’s Horn of Plenty restaurant.

He was also an artist and was meeting people affiliated with New York’s art establishment. He was extremely organized and ambitious with some very large goals. He’d told me how poor, needy and disfunctional his family was and growing up it appeared to have affected him in a lasting way. With his Supreme Court affiliation, things appeared to be working out!

Beth, David, and Dick at Horn of Plenty Restaurant, May 23, 1975.

I have to admit that I was intrigued and fascinated by Rick’s ambition and part of it was realizing that he had nothing to lose. In high school he’d been offered a football scholarship as well as an academic one — both from North Carolina State. Not being sure of which one would be the better one he told me that he’d asked his older sister and she encouraged him to accept the academic one. “Otherwise,” she said, “you’ll just end up back here!”

It appeared to have opened up a world of possibilities for him and it set my thoughts spinning. Is this what the somewhat glib term, “aspirational thinking,” is really all about? Is it “mind over matter” after all? I was reminding myself of the time in December, 15  years earlier, that I’d vowed to my best friend/UCLA fraternity brother Bob Stone that the next year I would not be working full or even part time in a Beverly Hills art store selling art supplies to wannabe amateur artist movie stars! The following December I was living in Manhattan and working on national ad campaigns as an art director at a large advertising agency.

I wondered how everything would work out for Rick Horton.

Or would there be a pie-in-the-face finale?

So many people were visiting the city from out of town. My parents’ good friend in Fresno, Gene Bock, recently widowed, was meeting with his East Coast family. His nephew was Jerry Bock, the Broadway composer of the musicals Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me and so many others.  Gene invited me to a family lunch, explaining that I was part of his “Fresno family.” I wish I’d done a drawing or two, but I didn’t.

Another family friend from the West Coast was Evelyn “Evie” Weil visiting her son, Michael. She was beautiful and had been a John Robert Powers model in her youth. Michael was making inroads into the world of professional theater.

I’d met Marilee Sennet through Michael and we all went to Joe Allen’s.

Beth Rudin called me and asked if I’d be free to ride along as she drove her father, Lew, to the airport. I knew so few people with a car in Manhattan that the idea of driving anywhere sounded like a good way to spend part of an afternoon. I went to the Rudin apartment on Fifth Avenue and Beth and I waited as her father finished a bit of business. And then we were off.

Lew Rudin was such a cheerleader for his city and in many subtle ways it was his city! He had accomplished so much to keep the city the vital magnet that it was! As we drove he told us of some fascinating future ideas for projects for the rapidly changing metropolis! He was a detailed creative thinker and I could understand the roots of Beth’s creativity. She was certainly “Daddy’s Girl”!


That evening I had dinner with Mary Milton and tried to remember all the exciting things that lay in store for the city!

The next day was the wedding of Ky Hackney and Carl Hribar, the culmination of a story sounding like something from a romantic comedy.

They “met cute”!

As I recall, Ky told me that while going somewhere she saw a house that was just built and liked it so much that she stopped to admire it. While standing in the garden, a man approached her. She explained to him that she’d stopped only to admire the beautiful house and the man thanked her explaining that he was the architect! After a bit more conversation she left as the architect was thinking to himself that he could fall in love with a woman like her.

That was, of course, how they met. And later, meeting again in the city, they started dating and got engaged. Before we knew it, Mary and I were invited to their wedding!

Is that really another example of Aspirational Thinking and Mind Over Matter?

The next day Richard Falcone invited us to another of his bountiful at homes.

Ron West (the man w/o a face) chatting with Mary.
Fashion writer, Rosemary Kent, and Pinky, who with her friend Diane, had designed and successfully marketed a line of knitted clothing and adult sweaters they called Baby Knits! Their line was called Pinky and Diane and I never learned their last names — or even if they had one! Or two.

Joe Phillips and Buzzy King with Pinky (while wearing one of their Baby Knit sweaters).

The next evening Mary and I had dinner at the Cafe Europa with Bob Stone and his beautiful Finnish girlfriend, Maaret Hallinen, a model whom he had photographed in Harper’s Bazaar. Steve Rumbough, the son of Dina Merrill, was Bob’s photo assistant and friend.

Showing visiting friends the town from the Rainbow Room.

A few days later, Ray Smith was throwing a party at his friend David Zucker’s apartment, which was larger than his own.

Writer Don Chase was there. He’d recently been living in Hollywood where he was reading scripts for a producer. When he moved back to Manhattan he found himself to be unable to write anything — suffering with writer’s block.

I suggested to him that it seemed logical to me that if someone were to read hundreds of scripts with hundreds of stories, of course they’d be at a loss for a new idea for another story!

He said that that had never occurred to him and he’d have to think about it!

Beth Rudin was also there.

The next evening, a few of us transplanted Californians were talking about food and got around to talking about chili which still had not yet appeared widely in Manhattan unless you knew where to go. Our friend David Witter knew where to go, so he and Marilee Sennet and Mike Weil and I ended up at Anita’s Chili Parlor for a nostalgic finish to the week and a salute to Spring!

Even without Aspirational Thinking!

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