Friday, April 6, 2018

1st 50 Palmer books here (and gone). Who got 'em?

I showed up Monday on Doc Giffin’s front porch with one of the worst gifts a thoughtless man could deliver.

For my friend Doc, I had a book he’d already read.

Despite the faux pas, I knew it would be okay, so my feelings were the exact opposite of how I felt in December when I’d given him a rough draft of “Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King” (pre-order here).

I was feeling anxious then because if Doc denounced the book I’d have to leave town.

Doc had been Palmer’s personal assistant for 50 years and dealing with him is a big, personal part of the book. If he thought it was reckless with the Palmer legacy, if it took cheap shots or thought it was just plain stupid, I’d be crushed and it would be “Goodbye Latrobe! Hello Dayton!” for the Rodell family.

Happily, he told me he likes it very much. He said he was looking forward to re-reading the book without having to fact-check it. In the book’s acknowledgements, I thank Doc and say how I consider having him as my friend one the greatest privileges of my life.

So, obviously, I’d want to honor my esteemed friend by giving him the first copy, right?

Then how come he wound up with something like the 18th copy?

Blame expediency.

Last Friday, the publisher sent me the first 50 books. They’re all gone. Sold. Given away. Donated. I’ll be getting another 250 copies Thursday.

The first copy went to Buck Pawlosky. He’s since 1980 owned the Tin Lizzy and, thus, been my landlord and omnibus friend since ‘15. The Tin plays a starring role in the book and, gee, I had my rent check right there …

So the first book was given away for free and included a check for $300 to the recipient. I know, I know …


But Buck was deserving so the honor wasn’t squandered. He even insisted on paying. He likes the book and is inviting me to put up strategically placed cover posters boasting the book was written right here. This I will do.

Who was the recipient of the second book? Some perfect stranger. He just started waiting tables here and was checking out the building when he wandered into my office. 

Why would I bestow such an heirloom honor on a total stranger?

The kid offered $15.

The book retails for $15 and I’ve generously, I think, decided that’s what I’ll charge. Now, for out-of-towners that require a trip to the post office, each copy is $20.

If your contributions to the book are substantial, if I consider you sufficiently connected or prominent, I might offer you a freebie. If this happens, you can if you choose to offer a donation at which I’ll twice feign indignity before shoving in my pocket.

The third book went to Jessie, the Tin bartender who complained about the unfairness that Buck got his before she got hers. She ’s right, too. Buck’s the landlord, but Jessie is the one I rely on when I’m in need of soulful inebriation.

In the grand scheme of things, I should have dedicated the whole damn book to Jessie. She, too, paid me $15. Jessie is the best.

A nearby drinker saw the transaction, asked for two copies and forked over $30.

So I’d stopped in for one beer, sold 5 books and walked out with $75.

This drinking thing is really starting to pay off!

I probably filled orders for 30 people who’d already sent checks that — cha-ching! went right through.

I was very pleased by my friend John Rusbosin’s reaction to the book. He went straight to Facebook to post this:

“THE REVIEWS ARE IN!! I rate it excellent. My friend Chris Rodell personalized the Latrobe aura with home town stories about our hero ARNOLD PALMER!! The book is HOT off the PRESS and I highly recommend it to bring smiles and inspiration.

“My first thought is CHARGE! Get many copies for yourself, family and friends. I bet Arnie would call it a KEEPER.”

Thank you, John.

Looks like the 50th copy is going to another esteemed recipient. A friend has told me Mrs. (Arnold) Kit Palmer is interested. I hope she likes it.

I hope no one feels slighted that they didn’t get one of the first 50. Delivery, as you can see, has been arbitrary and haphazard. Book signings aplenty coming up.

And if you want, I’ll be happy to sign any book for you the way I signed one for Zach. He’s the bartender at Flapper’s, the beguiling second floor speakeasy at the Tin Lizzy. I make it a point to at least once a week stop in on a slow night for Wild Turkey and philosophical distraction.

For Zach, I signed it, “Because, my friend, of all your years of steadfast friendship, I wanted you to have the very FIRST COPY! You’re the best!”

I’ve known Zach for about four months.

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