Otto's Night Watch: 'Day of the Magnolia Blossom' ... Flashback Friday
Here’s the next installment in our continuing series of republished “Otto’s Night Watch” columns written by Otto Boutin, which appeared monthly several decades ago in Printing Impressions. In this week’s short story, Otto reconnects with Speedy Smith, a former workaholic employer whose life revolved solely around running his business. He found that Speedy Smith's philosophy about life and the meaning of happiness — after consultation with a psychiatrist — had changed quite drastically from when Otto last saw him.
Just like when Otto penned this column some 50 years ago, finding the proper balance between work and personal family life is a delicate balancing act that's constantly in flux. And — especially with the advent of today's smart phones that keep us connected to our jobs 24/7 — the stress caused by struggling to separate and compartmentalize the demands of our professional lives from those of our personal lives is something that can easily make us feel like we're going crazy.
Day of the Magnolia Blossom
I was back in New Orleans, at the bend of the Mississippi near Thalia Street, looking for a banana boat to take me to Veracruz, where the beaches are wonderful and the water is warm and clear. As I turned a corner, I decided to drop in on Speedy Smith to let him know that I hadn’t starved, as he predicted I would. I had worked for him some 15 years ago.
I remembered him as a man who knew what he wanted and didn’t deviate an inch from his goal. Every minute of his life was devoted to becoming the richest printer in Louisiana, and maybe in the world. He lived in a bachelor apartment above the shop so that he wouldn’t lose any time traveling to and from work. He worked from morning till night, six days a week. On Sundays he did his paperwork, if there wasn’t a rush job on one of the presses. He had his meals upstairs, hurriedly cooked to save time.