Son of a Mad Man

Email a Friend

The television series Mad Men concludes its current season this Sunday night at 10 pm. I've been following it closely for its intricate, provocative story, intriguing characters, great acting, and period detail. I feel that Mad Men, set in the New York advertising world of the early 1960s, is the TV equivalent of those "meeting points of Art and Pop" I like to present on Spinning On Air.

That man pictured on the left is not a member of the Mad Men cast in costume. That's my father, Kenneth Garland. The photo was taken circa 1963, the year depicted in Mad Men's current season. Dad was an Ad Man, if not a Mad Man. He was an Account Executive for an advertising agency in Boston during most of my childhood. He's not around anymore to tell of his experiences, but I don't think they included nearly as much alcohol, cigarettes, and secrecy as those depicted in Mad Men.

In fact I just recently came across a few pages he wrote about his career in which he said, "I could not find any real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction through association with the typical 'consumer' advertising characterized by the famous expression from The Hucksters, 'Love that soap.'" So he worked for a firm whose accounts were of the "industrial type." Unlike most of the Mad Men characters, my father had a fulfilling life outside the ad agency, and I think he cared more about his amateur singing and theater work than he did about manipulating consumers.

I'm probably the same age the Mad Men character Sally Draper would be. She's the daughter of the handsome, beautiful, frustrated and flawed main protagonists Don and Betty Draper. My parents, also handsome and beautiful (if I may say so), were Kenneth and Barbara Garland. That's right, Ken and Barbie, like the dolls. And like any kid of the '60s, I grew up an avid consumer, seduced by advertising. But my parents gave me a childhood rooted in the "real" world of creativity and the arts.

I salute the artistry of the creators, cast, and crew of Mad Men. I thank them for a good story well told, and for an adult's view of my childhood milieu.