Sid Sackson’s 1965 six city tour with 3M

SidhomeSmallDuring the first week of September 1965, Bill Bentzin, the Senior Division Publicist for 3M company, wrote a letter to Sid Sackson.  The letter contained good news.  The games division of 3M had approved two one-week television tours to promote the seven 3M bookshelf games.  The tours would be conducted the week prior to Thanksgiving, November 12-20 and the week after Thanksgiving, November 28-December 4.  The tours would visit six cities.  One tour group would be Chicago-Cleveland-Pittsburgh; and the other, Boston-Philadelphia-Washington.

It was anticipated that Sid would have to leave on Sunday; and he would spend two days in each city.  The six days would involve six days of interviews.  The interviews would include radio, newspapers, and television.

Sid was working full time as an engineer.  Thus, he needed to take time off from work.  3M reimbursed him for his salary for the two weeks.  In addition, Sid was paid $50 per day plus reasonable expenses involving travel, hotel, meals, and other travel expenses.  He would not be paid for Sunday.  Thus, he was paid $300 per week.  He was also expected to do interviews in New York with radio, newspapers, and television.  However, he would not be paid any fees for his New York appearances.

Sid got approval from his employer to go on the six city tour.  And on November 10, Sid received first class tickets on a 6:00 pm dinner flight from New York to Chicago for Sunday November 16.  Sid was booked at the Essex Inn.

Bill told Sid that Sid “would be running your head off most of the trip”.  Bill was right.  Here is a look at Sid’s Pittsburg Schedule:

First Day

6:50am – Arrive at KDKA “Daybreak” show

7:00am – 8:15am –Appear on show with hosts Don Riggs & March Lynn – Producer Joe Hall

8:30am – Meet with Pittsburg Press – Reporter is lined up to interview Sid.  Give reporter background paper on Sid, story on 3M’s new line of games, and pictures

9:30am – Arrive at WTAE TV

10:00am – 10:30am – Appear on the Jean Connelly show

10:45am – Call Richard Stafford, program director for WJAS radio.  He will setup a taped interview of Sid in the afternoon.  Merle Pollis is the interviewer and he has a 6-8pm evening show, but interview will be taped.

3:30pm – KSKA radio – Do a taped interview with John Stewart.  John Stewart has an evening radio show from 7-10pm, but the interview will be taped.

Second Day

8:30am – WIIC TV – Appear on the “Pittsburg Today” show from 9:00am-9:30am.  Contact is Lou Vlahos.  Tell them you have a 9:30am radio commitment and would like, if possible, to go on early.  Have cab waiting to take you to the next stop.

At each interview, Sid publicized the seven 3M games, Acquire, Twixt, Jumpin, Stocks and Bonds, Quinto, Oh-Wah-Ree, Phlounder.  Only Acquire and Twixt are still in print today.  Sid also publicized the game “The Big Funeral” that was designed by his friend Claude Soucie.  Several of the reporter’s articles were syndicated; thus the articles appeared in dozens of newspapers around the US.  The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, News Day, The Washington Evening Star, The Denver Post are a few of the newspapers that covered Sd’s travels.  The “Today Show” turned down an interview.  They felt the interview would be a little too commercial. 

One of Sid’s television’s interviews was conducted by Helen Meyner on WNJU Channel 47 in Newark, NJ.  WNJU TV was the first UHF television station in the New York area; and it was in its first year of operation.  The station broadcasted from the Mosque Theater (now Symphony Hall), located at 1020 Broad Street in Newark.  Helen Meyner was previously Helen Stevenson, a cousin of Adlai Stevenson.  After the interview, Helen introduced Sid to her husband, Robert B. Meyner, the previous governor of New Jersey from 1952 til 1962.  Helen Meyner served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 until 1979.  The WNJU TV appearance was the first time Sid’s family watched him on TV.  Sid remarks that his family “were somewhat surprised that I wasn’t shaking in my shoes”.

frontcover 225Game companies did NOT publicize their game developers during the 1960s.  Sid had convinced Whitman to put his name on the game “Focus”; but this was an exception to the rule.  Sid continued to do interviews with the media during the 1960s.  He was the first game designer in the US to reach “celebrity” status.

Click here to read the first volume of Sid’s Sackson’s Scrap Book.  The scrap book contains correspondence between Sid and 3M.  There are additional correspondes with reporters, radio and television personel.  Sid met Omar Sharif on the Betty Groebli show.  Omar was a Hollywood star and a bridge master.  Many of the folk who met Sid, received a booklet on how to play the game of “Focus”.  The scrap book also contains some publicity photos of Sid and his wife Bernice.  Sid kept both the letters he received and responses he wrote.  In addition, the scrapbook also contains some of the newspaper articles that were generated from the 6 city trip.  The “sick games of 1965” which included “The Big Funeral” and “Nuclear War” were the subject of a few of the articles.  Thus, Sid was able to generate some publicity for his friend Claude Soucie.

Future installments of this blog will include additional Sid Sackson’s Scrap Books.   The scrap books will include further details on the “sick games”, additional newspaper articles of Sid during the 1960s, correspondence between Sid, game companies, and the public.  The scrap books will also contain historic contracts between Sid and game publishers.

Interested in more Sid Sackson articles?  If so, consider joining the AGPI today.

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