Seven years ago tomorrow, March 8th – Martin Stein, Founder of RMI Direct Marketing passed from this life yesterday after a losing a battle with cancer. Martin and I shared a love of the arts and as such sat on the board of a little performing arts center in Danbury, CT and enjoyed many a warm summer evening under the stars listening to artists as varied as The Three Tenors, Willy Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Loggins and Melissa Etheridge and greats like BB King, Steve Winwood and Jerry Garcia.
Martin had a great love for food and wine and his tent at these Ives Concert Park events always gathered the most people, Martin loved to share.
There was a side to Martin that some did not see, but I had the pleasure of witnessing first hand. The humor and boyish glee that rose within him as he yanked the release valve on the “Pumpkin Chucking Cannon” he built with two close friends and dragged out each autumn to the joy of all his Roxbury, CT friends and neighbors.
This thing would launch a gourd or pumpkin skyward with a rush of air and send it 500 yards over field and meadow to the hoots and hollers of the gathered crowd. A cookout and picnic was always set out and whether you brought something or not Martin would not let you leave hungry. “Have a hot dog, a glass of wine … eat something,” He would say as he prepared to load the cannon again.
The last time I attended one of Martin’s events; my son went with me and will remember the day for the rest of his life. One of the attendees had parked his convertible Jaguar E-Type down range along the fence row about 400 yards from the cannon. An ill wind, an odd shaped pumpkin or Martin’s aim (we will never know) caused the projectile to drift wide. We could all see where it was going, could calculate where it would land, but were helpless to do anything but watch as 20 pounds of liquid pumpkin painted the white leather seats of the classic automobile, unfortunately, parked at ground zero.
Martin was horrified of course, but with a glint in his eye and a smile on his lips, he turned to me and said … “Did you see the height on that one?”
I will miss Martin, it was a pleasure to have known him. But to this day, every time I hear thunder, I hear Martin say “Did you see the height on THAT one?”
Paul Evans is Director of Agency Services at The Ad Buyer.