Earnest Elmo Calkins made Phoebe famous

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 8:04 AM

Wonderful thorough bit of research.  Thanks for sharing.

While camp trips and suburban visits had me experience the real DL&W, I had to wait until the EL merger before riding overnight and eating in a diner.  But the experience was positive in every way, and I regreted the demise of the Lake Cities when it occured.

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Earnest Elmo Calkins made Phoebe famous
Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, August 6, 2017 2:17 PM


NY Times, Oct. 6, 1964

Earnest Elmo Calkins, Ad Pioneer Dead

Earnest Elmo Calkins, co­-founder of the former Calkins & Holden advertising agency, died Sunday at his home, 580 Park Avenue, at the age of 96.

The agency, which later be­came Fletcher Richards, Cal­kins & Holden, was merged into the Interpublic group of adver­tising and public relations or­ganizations in 1963. Its billings last year were more than $30 million.

Calkins & Holden, described as the first modem advertising agency, was established by Mr. Calkins and the late Ralph Holden on Jan. 1, 1902. It is generally credited with helping to change the function of an agency from merely the place­ment of ads to the creation of advertising displays and cam­paigns. Calkins & Holden set up a typographical department, whereas earlier agencies had sent the material to newspapers for them to arrange as they saw fit.

The agency also assisted its clients in packaging and dis­playing their merchandise. It created for the Lackawanna Railroad the spotless Phoebe Snow, who rode “the road of anthracite.”

Overcame Early Deafness

Mr. Calkins had been deaf since the age of 6. In a 90th birthday interview, in which he received written questions and gave oral answers, Mr. Calkins credited Mr. Holden with being “the man who made it possible for me to be a success.”

He said:

“An agency then and now must have two ingredients—it must be creative and it must be businesslike. Mr. Holden had the business sense and the ability to help me overcome the handicap of being deaf.”

Five years after Mr. Holden died in 1926, Mr. Calkins retired from the advertising business. He recalled later that “radio was well along in the advertis­ing field, and since I couldn't hear, I thought it was time for me to move out.”

Mr. Calkins, who was bald and wore a goatee, spent his time writing on advertising, deafness and the Middle West. A friend said yesterday that until his death “he could still write a witty letter on his own typewriter,” and as recently as a year ago had a jingle pub­lished in the Saturday Review.

Mr. Calkins was born in Geneseo, Ill., but adopted nearby Galesburg as his home­town. He graduated from Knox College in 1891, and received an honorary Litt.D. degree there in 1921.

Wrote About Ad Periodical

“I really set out in Gales­burg to be a printer and jour­nalist,” he said, “but I soon learned that the ability to hear was a necessity. While editing the school paper at Knox Col­lege, I published a story about Printer's Ink [magazine] and was rewarded with a free sub­scription. That's how I got to know about advertising.”

He received his first job in advertising in 1894 with a Peoria, Ill., department store. Victory in a copywriting con­test brought an offer of a $15­-aweek job in New York, and it was then that he met Mr. Holden.

Mr. Calkins was the author of “The Business of Advertis­ing,” “The Advertising Man,” “Louder Please,” an autobiog­raphy; “Printing for Com­merce,” “Business the Civilizer,” “On the Care and Feeding of Hobby Horses,” “They Broke the Prairie,” “And Hearing Not – Annals of an Adman” and, with Mr. Holden, “Modern Ad­vertising.”

His wife, the former Angie Cushman Higgins, died in 1950. A brother, William C. Calkins, survives.


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