The total Marketing Concept was something that the Internet was capable of realizing in ways our forebears hardly anticipated. But how would it remember them? Integrating the past with the future would mean remembering those we loved and honoring them. One day, we would be able to create three dimensional avatars of them - even four dimensions, because we would be able to make 3D movies of them. Even five dimensions, because they would be able to interact with us, appearing differently to different people.
A TRINITY OF CHARLES WALTER CARVINS WAS PHOTOSHOPPED IN. OTHERS ARE NOW DECEASED, AS WELL. HOW WILL WE REMEMBER THEM?
What total marketing meant was obvious in terms of how my father might have meant it. But what did it mean to me? And how would I apply it? One thing was certain. I didn't think of myself as capable. I was nobody special then. My diving career ended in college, not too monumentally. It was fun while it lasted. I diddled around with a music studio I kept in an in-law house in my back yard, with my library, full of books from seminary. I was working nights at the Post Office at the time. There was little free time. How would I achieve anything like what my father was speaking of in that vision? Total marketing? What the ...?
Then answer slowly came. It was in the comfort my mother received from email. The whole family reminisced about the old days. She would tell stories and so would we. First Dad and then my oldest brother, Chickie, were the subject of many loving discussions with my older brothers and Mom.
It was too bad that there was no way to preserve all that love. It was too bad that Charley Carvin, who was once the talk of New York and Palm Beach and "knew everyone who was anyone," would be forgotten by this world as soon as the next generation passed. There would be a grave-marker, perhaps. But who would care? All of his friends would be dead too.
There was something about that that needed to be fixed. Fixing things had become a habit around that music studio, where I had been standing when I had that vision. I was always trouble-shooting. If it wasn't one thing not doing what it was supposed to, it was another. Everything seemed to be broken. The whole Internet seemed to be broken. What talents or gifts did I have as a composer in that studio? I was relatively bad at it.
And then slowly, very slowly, the answer started to come. It wouldn't be my talent. It would be my trust in God to fix what was broken. It had always been a wonderful thing turning my cares over to God. So I unburdened myself. I was comforted by the Biblical idea that the weak are often used in this world to confound the wise. Maybe God would do something. Who was I to question God?
From left to right, James, Charles III (Chickie), Joseph, Corinne, David and Chris.
Charles Walter, Junior
So, let's talk about that love. Who was Charley Carvin? Why did we wind up with Charley the Saintly Ghost as our logo? Well, a ghost with a halo isn't exactly an orthodox depiction of the Holy Ghost. And Charley wasn't exactly holy either. So why call him Charley?
I don't know. There was something about Dad and being colorful. He was about marketing. Marketing is sharing. He was known as "the more colorful marketing man." I grew up seeing placards and awards on our walls that said this. There was nothing black and white about being Charley Carvin's son.
What I learned at every seminary I attended was that the Holy Ghost is the part of the Trinity we all share in. There was something religious about it.
The idea of a dove doesn't really do it for me. I wanted something more colorful. I wanted something more personal. And despite being quite knowledgable in theology from all my reading, I was really never much into religion and didn't like it when people wore it for others to see.
Religion was a personal journey. If it wasn't about rocking the tides of love, then what was it about? Preach by action. Show me. Don't tell me.
On a similar note, total marketing isn't just technology and communication either. It's Charley. It's what needs to be marketed. For me, that was life itself. Even beyond life, it was loving memory - with all of its joys, sorrows, laughter, hopes, struggles and depth. It was all the love I had for my own father and it was my father's love for me. That's what total marketing really is. Life can't be complete without that love in all its fullness. And something is missing if it is forgotten. Something is broken until total marketing is complete. There were no words to describe what this meant to me.
Well, on to my story... As things go, the Carvins lived in Mamaroneck, NY a few houses from Jonathan Winters in the 1960s, and they became great friends. The younger generation may recall Winters as Mork and Mindy's baby. Robin Williams often described Winters as his greatest influence. For me, Charley Carvin was that guy.
Some of the videos you'll find here are about Caprolan carpet by Allied Chemical Corporation's Aniline division, where Charley was VP of marketing. It was Dad who enlisted Winters to do commercials for Caprolan carpets. For Charley Carvin, a dull product was easy to sell. If no one is noticing it, add more color. More colorful carpeting became Caprolan's theme.
If you enjoyed the Netflix series, Mad Men, you will enjoy these commercials as they are from the same era and location. Just as Don Draper commuted daily to and from New York City and Mamaroneck by train, and later to and from Rye, so did Charley Carvin. The other VP at Analine was also named Draper. They were hired the same day.
With so many coincidences, you might think the series was about Charley. But Charley wasn't an ad man on Madison Avenue. He was a marketing man at #1 Times Square, where Allied Chemical moved their offices in the days of Caprolan.
The Times Square building was known as the largest billboard in the world. It is considered the hub of America to this day. Charley may have had a part in having the company move its offices there, consistent with the principles of total marketing.
CARVIN AND WINTERS WERE CLOSE NEIGHBORS
Jonathan Winters was not your typical every-day neighbor. And neither was he a run-of-the-mill commercial spokesperson. Unless, of course, he was advertising the run of a Caprolan fiber mill for Charley Carvin.
Some of Dad's ads for Caprolan were for marketing executives. They were mostly replayed at industry events. Others targeted women. In the 1960s, marketing demographics and methods were almost black and white. Charley did what he could to innovate.
Breaking into the consumer market, Charley was part of Allied Chemical's move to #1 Times Square.
WHEN ALLIED'S ANILINE BROADCAST THE CARVIN NAME ONTO TIMES SQUARE TO HONOR CHARLEY, THEY DIDN'T KNOW HOW FAR JAMES WOULD STRETCH THE IMAGE. IT SEEMED SUPERNATURAL. IT WASN'T PLANNED.
Dad's Caprolan marketing team produced a lot of commercials for Allied in those days. Some were lengthier than the commercials we see nowadays. when television was new, there was more freedom. And when color TVs made their ways into the homes of executives for the first time, Dad was keen to get his commercials into their living rooms during the news hour. Here are some of the shorter ones. They'll give you an idea of what Caprolan was and what they were selling.
Dad retired from Allied in 1966 and we moved to Palm Beach, Florida but his colorful entrepreneurial spirit wouldn't allow him to sit still. Before long, he'd started his own company, employing some 200 people manufacturing seat belts and shipping slings in Miami and New York. And among several other projects, he also bought the Palm Beach Pier, which was in disrepair. For a while we fished off of it. I had the one and only raw oyster I've ever eaten there. It had a bar and a restaurant. Dad wanted to build it back better.
The Town of Palm Beach had other plans though. Charley and his partner, George Hepworth, would have broken a long standing history of racial separation there, had the Town not ultimately blocked the renovation.
It so happens that there was a Jewish country club on the north end of the island, which is ethnically separate to this day. And there are gentile clubs. There may now be laws in place forcing them to allow Jewish members, but they are still generally for non-Jews. Both the clubs on the north and south end of the island are racially separated to this day.
All of these country clubs have always been for non-blacks. No person of color was allowed on the island of Palm Beach after dark in the 1960s and 70s, when Dad endeavored to rebuild the Palm Beach Pier with Heptworth. And the Town Council was initially all for its renovation. But some of them just weren't ready for integration. They might not admit it, and we may never know who. They may not have even explicitly said it at any point, but the fact remains - they seem to have changed their minds when they found out the plan was to make Dad's new Ocean Club a multi-ethnic club.
It wasn't just the inclusion of Jews. It was blacks. If a pier was built that was open to the general public, people of color would most likely walk over the Royal Palm Way Bridge, where they often fished. From there they could walk down to Ocean Boulevard, then down to Worth Avenue, to go fishing from the Palm Beach Pier, which was just a few blocks away. They would catch some good ocean fish for dinner that way, or maybe sell them to Dad so he could serve them in his restaurant.
It's such a shame that our history has so much ugliness in it. But when overcoming traditions, breaking through to a more colorful world, there is much to be said. For anyone who accomplishes it, there should be accolades. For anyone who attempts it but fails, there should be tribute, as well, just for trying. And when all fails, what remains is a sorrowful ghost story. Until we rectify the situation, the story of the Palm Beach Pier is one of those. We deserve to be haunted by this types of story. The injustice, the unfairness, the oppression and suppression, should cry out to every one of us for change. A more colorful world does not exclude people of color. To me, it was one more way Dad was the more colorful marketing man.
Unfortunately, Charley was unable to get the approval from the Town of Palm Beach he needed. The first multi-ethnic club in Palm Beach was built by Donald Trump, many years later. Ironically, Trump was mocked and hated as a white supremacist. I didn't see Trump that way. Maybe he was. Who knows? All I know is that my father, and my father's father, raised their children to believe that all people, of all races and religions were created equal in the image of God.
Charles Jr. and Charles Sr. may have done many bad things in their lives. Who doesn't? Did I mention that they both had hidden mob ties? Yet, even they knew and taught their children that respect for every human being, basic equality, was a value to live by. They both did live by that value. And there are many more stories to tell along those lines but that is enough on it for now.
THERE WAS. A STORY BEHIND THE STORY OF THE
PALM BEACH PIER - A COLORFUL GHOST STORY
The stories of Charley Carvin are too many to tell in a single blog. As for me, I was inspired not just by my father's entrepreneurial spirit. There was also some very colorful religious contemplation I engaged in.
It wasn't just the private library of theology and church history books I enjoyed. It wasn't even the lives of the saints I would read. It was just that weird thing called life. There just seem to me to be so many very colorful things happening in it all the time.
Life is a miracle. I often think to myself, what are the odds of being alive right now? Go ahead. Get me started. And do you want to know what fascinates me more than religion? Science.
The two are really the same to me. It's all just whatever the truth is. I can only know it in part. I see parts of things. I understand some of it. I misunderstand most of it. My vision is very poor.
Even when really weird things happen, I don't understand them. They just leave me with questions. Why did that picture of my father stretch out that day when I printed it? I know what caused it. I was pulling on it. But that still doesn't answer the question why.
And why did that photograph of Jonathan Winters shaking my Dad's hand produce something that looked like an aura, or a halo around Jonathan Winters when I scanned it? I might be able to find an explanation how, like light getting in on one side of the scanner, but that doesn't tell me why. Why did that happen to me? Is there some sort of inner-genius inside of me that knew that if scanner lid was tilted a certain way that that would happen?
If only I had such a magic touch. In reality, I have a fifteen foot rule. If I stand within fifteen feet of technology, something will malfunction. It's Murphy's Law. Did I tell you I was a Murphy on my late grandmother's side? Murphy's Law loves me. It's a good thing I'm Caprolan tough!
The glitches in the malfunctioning equipment were often a challenge for me. I found that technical challenges were often the best form of inspiration for innovation. For Allied, Charley expanded the use of Caprolan fiber to emphasize its toughness. It was man against the elements. And let's not forget that color. It made great socks too. The duller the product the greater its prospects for marketing success! For me, I was just learning.
WHAT THE CAUSE OF THIS STRANGE SCANNING GLITCH WAS IS HARD TO SAY. MAYBE IT WAS A GOD THING.
There was much more to Charley than Caprolan and the Pier, of course. He was a serial entrepreneur. He almost purchased the Queen Mary and then the Queen Elizabeth cruise ships. Some of the deals fell through. As we were to discover later, some of it involved Dad's mob ties. I've written a book about growing up in Palm Beach called Eden Road that includes some stories about the Palm Beach mafia goings on. It was too long and still needs work.
I grew up on a street named Eden Road. The book by the same name is a story of spiritual discovery. As I mentioned, my father and I went on a spiritual retreat together. Even people who are very worldly can have a spiritual side. Life just isn't black and white. It's so full of color. It's so multi-dimensional.
In the end, business losses got the better of my father. He may have had a lot of fun, but he also let the stress of hardball deals and business survival in a shark infested world get the better of him. He chain smoked his way into emphysema, had countless heart surgeries and many intestinal ailments. As for me, his infirmities, left me listening to him often at his bedside. He parted to me all the wisdom he could before he died.
Charles Walter III
My father was just one of three Charles Walter Carvins. they were all very close to me and I wanted all of them to be remembered. From the greatest to the least, none should be forgotten. The loss of loved ones stirs up emotions for me that are too deep to describe. The senior Charles Walter, known as Pop Pop, and my oldest brother, Charles III, known as Chickie, formed a sort of unholy yet saintly Trinity. Of the three, only my brother was without a sordid hidden life involving mafia figures. Chickie had Down Syndrome. At the time the Ghost Machine was conceived, I knew nothing about my grandfather's mob business. Families don't talk about those things. Chickie's saintliness was a cheerier subject. His innocence may have been a relief. And in many ways, he was the signature character in what we all were as a family. We should all be so blessed to have someone as special as Chickie in our families. He is like the ring in our halo of love.
A halo is a symbol of innocence and pure goodness. Innocence is fascinating thing. Nobody, not even the very simple, Chickie Carvin, with his Down Syndrome, was entirely innocent, of course. He had his angry moments, but whatever he may have ever lacked in virtue, he made up for in love. He loved his brothers and his family. He loved playing games of hide and seek and swimming. He loved to sing, though he sang very poorly. And he loved being loved.
Chickie was also the most religious in the family. He went to special schools where he was taught by nuns. All of Charley's children went to boarding schools. Chickie was away from his family for months at a time. In those days, advice about rearing Down Syndrome children was different than it is today. Special schools were often recommended.
Chickie acquired a home away from home growing up. And when he found out he had little brothers, he was very happy. So were they happy to find out they had an older brother they had never met.
Chickie was a great swimmer. He loved diving under the water. And he managed to stay afloat on a long surfboard, and climb onto a diving board, though his fear of heights was even worse than mine.
Of the three Charles Walter Carvins, perhaps Chickie was the holiest. He loved to go to church. He had served at the altar when he was young. And we often speculated about how he might see the world. Sometimes he would seem to be shaking invisible hands and saying hello to people in churches no one could see. Was he talking to the saints? Maybe Chickie could see dead people. We idealized him as if he was a quiet guru, a man of peace with sage wisdom coming down from a holy mountain.
We paint people certain ways because we love them. There are ways we want to remember them. In truth, in Chickie's later years, he would often run away from home on his adult-sized tricycle. It was difficult for his family to watch him. Communication with Chickie was difficult. His emotions and thoughts were too complex for him to share. There was nothing stupid about him beyond the fact that he was unable to speak clearly or learn to read, write or solve math problems.
Intelligence is far more involved than that. Special needs often means special coping abilities. It also means being unique in this world. It's a very cool thing, really.
Sometimes we thought we were smart because we succeeded in school but Chickie didn't. Supposedly, he had a lower IQ than we did. But if any of us had truly been smarter than Chickie, we might have figured out what Chickie was thinking as he continually ran away from home. While he was living, it was a mystery.
THREE CHARLEY THE SAINTLY GHOSTS IN ONE IMAGE
It was discovered long after his death that many, and possibly all of the special needs residents in one of the homes he later lived in were sexually abused. However innocent we may have believed Chickie to be, his innocence had been robbed from him. Yet he never said a word about it.
For whatever may have happened in Chickie's private world, there are many wonderful and fun stories that can be told about him. Chickie loved to wrestle with his brothers. He was very strong. And he competed in the Special Olympics for swimming. He liked pretty girls. And it was probably my fault that he kept going to the Sailfish Club to get a hamburger and a coke because I showed him how to do it. Who could blame him for wanting to take rides along that beautiful Palm Beach bike trail and ending the trip with his favorite food and a swim?
The problem was he was doing it at night too. Perhaps, that was the time when his caregivers were known to abuse the residents. We will never know. Suffice it to say here that Chickie was much beloved in life. He brought joy to everyone he met on the island. My friends all treated him with love and respect. I was fortunate to have good friends that way. Others may have stood out because they had bigger yachts and better cars. In a way, Chickie was what made the Carvins special as a family.
Charles Walter , Senior
Charles Sr., or Pop Pop, as his grandchildren knew him, evoked a very different sort of love and respect from his family. He had grown up in Philadelphia but moved out to San Fransisco with his older half brother when he got in trouble with some loan sharks on the East Coast. Eventually they found him driving a taxi cab for a living and he got whacked. Pop Pop was left alone to fend for himself. He joined the air force and fought in World War I and when he returned, he supplied alcohol to the Boardwalk Empire during prohibition and saved up enough cash for a nice house there.
He had a great sense of humor. He told captivating stories, sang and ran business. Not ever getting caught doing anything illegal, and respected by all, Pop Pop kept his racketeering connections well hidden and started a tradition of clean money. The businesses he involved himself in were varied, as were his sons. And this story is already long, so we'll tell most of it elsewhere.
Here are a few factoids about Pop Pop. He was the first tenant in the Empire State Building. He was friends with Winston Churchill. He entertained the 400 at the Waldorf Astoria. The 400 were the 400 wealthiest people in the world. Bob Hope called him the funniest man he'd ever heard. Everyone in New York knew who he was. And his oldest son, Charley, rode on his coat tails.
I will keep this story brief by directing those interested in Pop Pop to my brother Joe, who is a writer and loves including real family history in his work. It's mostly through Joe that I've learned things about my ancestors. In addition to being an avid genealogist, Joe runs a blog dedicated to civil discourse called "We May Be Wrong," and unlike me, tends to actually publish the books that he writes, which you can find on his web site at jwcarvin.com.
I will simply point out here that you may notice from this photograph of Charles Walter Carvin, Sr. (Pop Pop), that the revised version of Charley the Saintly Ghost is in his image. My father, indeed, emulated his father.
As I see it, and I think my father and his father saw it, we do well to both show discretion in uncovering sinful shameful things because doing so is charitable, and finding ways to remember all that is good in people is an excellent habit. I think that these, indeed are the things in life worth celebrating and reliving. And that's why I am happy to honor these fathers of mine with the halo, not of innocence but of the grace that makes it possible.
So, with a bit of a teaser on the life of Pop Pop, I'll end the story of the three Charleys that were the inspiration behind the concept right here. Now that you have a better understanding of what the Ghost Machine actually was, it's time now to continue the saga. On the top home page links of this site, I was sharing with you the struggle I was dealing with in the years from 1998-2002, as we amassed some thirty thousand ghostsufers. The story left off with someone calling themself Anatoly, presumably a Russian who hadn't been paid for the work he had done. He was angry and wanted me to pay him $8,000 to get my data back. The data was my people, our users, the ghostsurfers. I couldn't contact them and he wouldn't let them go ...