Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Frank "Jake" Jacobson
Sixty years ago, a young farmboy who’d recently returned from France after serving his country as a paratrooper in WWII, sweated over a drawing board in Manhattan. The address was 507 W. 50th Street, certainly a long way from Stevens Point where he was raised. It was a long way from the Layton School of Art of and Design where he aspired to become a cartoonist and where he met his wife, Betty Braasch. It was an even longer way from Sheboygan, Wisconsin where he knew Betty was scrubbing floors, smocking dresses and rosemalling furniture to pay the bills.
Dad had always wanted to be a “gag” cartoonist. To come up with that 1 + 1 = 3 gag that every cartoonist depended upon to sell his work. The perfect marriage of words and pictures that eventually paved way to one of Wisconsin’s most remarkable advertising agencies. Jacobson Rost.
But here’s the story behind the story that will give you a little peak into the kind of person Jake was.
It was just a few days before Christmas. Dad was working late. A fellow NY cartoonist, who had taken my dad under his wing and a man who had been selling quite a bit of work at the time, had asked Jake what he was doing for Christmas. “I’ll be sticking around,” he said with what little enthusiasm he could muster. “I can’t afford to go home.” After an awkward silence, his friend reached into his pocket and took a crisp $100 bill and squeezed it into the palm of Jake’s hand. “Take it,” he said. “You need to be with your wife and kids.”
My dad, who till the day he died, was quick to get teary whenever he encountered such simple acts of kindness (especially when it was him), bit his lip and said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pay you back.” To which his friend humbly smiled, “You don’t have to, just pass it on”. And over the next fifty years, he did. Many times over.
And out of respect for Jake and that wonderful man who made Christmas extra special for the Jacobson family that year, we will continue to pass it on. So that we might produce “Great Work in a Great Way”.