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Chasing The American Dream

April 20, 2005


Posted by Hello
A couple days ago, I was having my 7 a.m. sunrise breakfast with my brother-in-law along the pier at the beach. It’s such a beautiful sight. What is it about viewing the sunrise in the morning and the sunset in the dusk of the afternoon? Anyway, we were just sitting and chatting when we both spotted an old man in his underwear limping toward the surf. We looked dumbfoundedly at him because he looked like he was going into the ocean for a swim. It was extremely windy, the surf was rough, and the tide was strong. What the heck was this old guy doing?

I guess one of the locals overheard us, and she told us the old man’s story. He swims a mile in the ocean every other day and walks the mile back. He also happened to be one of the original Marlboro Men. Neat, huh? Dontcha just love local legendary stuff like that? We watched him battle the current until he disappeared. I immediately thought I’d write about him. But it wasn’t *that* great of a story.

Today, we made our morning walk to the pier for our daily breakfast. As luck would have it, we spotted a familiar face. Marlboro Man was walking from the ocean and heading our way. We were walking toward each other and were real close to him, but he veered off. I wanted to say something to him; I wanted to meet him. The New Me threw caution to the wind, and I yelled out toward him and got his attention.

Up close, I could see why he was once the Marlboro Man. He was tall, rugged, and in amazing shape for a 70-something year-old man. He walked sort of hunched over with a significant limp. He was dripping wet from the ocean. When he spoke, his voice resounded deeply. He shook my hand firmly. I told him we’d heard he was once the Marlboro Man, and I told him I admired him for doing his swim routine. He smiled broadly as if reminiscing of his younger days riding the horse, decked out in his cowboy garb, peddling the Marlboro brand.

He introduced himself as August Brown or Augie for short. He confirmed he was, in fact, one of the early Marlboro Men. He told us he did some print ads and some TV ads as well. I got the feeling he wanted to get out of his underwear or trunks or whatever and dry off. So I wished him good luck and told him I’d write about him.

We were sitting down having our breakfast when I spotted him coming in to eat. He came over to our outside table. “Hey Todd, I got a neat story for you.” Wow, I thought it was cool he remembered my name and cool that he wanted to share a something with us. He slid in the booth and proceeded to tell us his Marlboro story. He graduated from Columbia in 1956. He had done some previous modeling, and his ad agency called him and told him he had an opportunity with Marlboro.

He told us Marlboro had been undergoing an image change back in ’55. He told us that Marlboro was 30th and dead last in market share (less than 1% of the market) because men wouldn’t smoke Marlboros. They wouldn’t because the cigarettes had a red filter on them which made them look like women’s cigs. Once Marlboro got rid of the red-tipped cigs and focused it’s advertising on the rugged outdoor man, sales began to take off.

Augie got the call for the Cowboy photo shoot. He was 24. He made it to the last two models and was up against a 44 year-old. Augie got beat out. They went with the older, more mature guy. Later on in the 60s he said he did get to play the Marlboro Man in print ads and selected TV ads. Wow, great story. He wished us well, we thanked him for sharing his story, and off he went into the diner.

Well, I don’t think it’s time to “Go West, young man, go West,” as Horace Greeley once said, but I think it may be time to move East to the beach. There are too many neat things I’m missing out on. Don’t worry, I’ll still be ‘Plantation’ no matter where I roam.


  • What a neat story! Thanks for sharing.

    By Blogger Elle, at 9:22 AM, April 20, 2005  

  • yes. wonderful.

    By Blogger ropedncr, at 11:16 AM, April 20, 2005  

  • I like it.

    By Anonymous Emily, at 11:27 AM, April 20, 2005  

  • Move East? I would die to eat breakfast on the beach a few mornings a week. Now that you're done working in Naples - would you consider moving there?

    By Blogger Carol, at 12:26 PM, April 20, 2005  

  • Great post.

    Did you know that the Winston man also lives here? Funny.

    I had a friend from Boston that lived down here for awhile and he always used to say to me that there is no point living in Florida if you don't live on the beach. True, but it's freakin' expensive. I lived right off of 17th St Causeway for a year....and loved every minute of it. If you can do it, I say "Go East."

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 1:28 PM, April 20, 2005  

  • I can't wait to GO EAST myself... only 10 more days till I am HOME SWEET HOME for the summer soaking up the sun on the East Coast! Hope that you are having a good day
    Miss Ryder

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:24 PM, April 20, 2005  

  • I once ran into Mr. Clean.
    (initially I had my fingers on the wrong keys when I posted this and the original came out like this: p [,tbt yd, p,u[ .y btd',)

    I should've kept the original version.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 2:22 PM, April 21, 2005  

  • It kind of made me a little sad at first, thinking of the once proud & beautiful man swimming his feeble old body through the ocean early in the morning.

    By Blogger girl from florida, at 11:32 PM, April 21, 2005  

  • Great story.

    By Blogger Michelle, at 3:31 PM, April 22, 2005  

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