What did all of that have to do with the color corrections and the print quality? I didn’t even ask.  It fascinated and absorbed me, for here was the treasure trove of incredible word for word guide to How To Make A Perfect Magazine. The Bible, Bhagwat Gita, if you may. Basically paying attention to the tiniest things that can make a big difference. The loose-leaf pages that filled the volume, were dated from mid-Fifties to the late-Sixties. Some definitions contained a page or more, most only a paragraph or two. In the margin of each such item was the initial HMH (Hugh Marston Hefner) and next to them, the dates. I suspect that in the most likelihood, he typed all those pages himself . Such attention to details. Nothing left to interpretation. It became very clear to me that this HMH was an editor par excellence.  And immediately, I became one of his most devoted pupil and then the preacher of his gospel to everyone who worked with me in the next twenty one years. That, as you know, was in October of 1972.

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I would not meet the man for fifteen years whose mantra I had chanted to a whole slew of editorial teams from all across the globe. I saw him face-to-face for the first time on October 7, 1987. A busload of us arrived at the back parking lot of his famed Mansion  to meet with and pay our respect to the capo dei capi – the highlight of the International Publishing’s conference being held that year at El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California.

First we were given a grand tour of the Mansion and its fairy tale surroundings that included tennis court, swimming pool, the now all too talked about Grotto, traipsing birds and strolling exotic animals and the wedding cake of the house, reminiscent of The Great Gatsby’s fictional home on the Long Island, three thousand miles (4800 km) away. You can’t help but be in awe of it all. More amazed than envious, because we could as well be visiting the Disneyland. But we had  fallen into the Rabbit hole and into the wonderland which was our own.

Having already been treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch, we are clustered around the pool, drinks in hands, awaiting eagerly the Man of the house. We are imagining him to walk out of the front door in his trademark  silk pajamas and the long flowing robe. Perhaps with his ubiquitous pipe in one hand. The image we all behold. Anxiety rising, we indulge in small talks with each other but our eyes can’t help but wander back and forth between where we’re standing and the front door of the house. First we see our boss, Bill Stokkan – the divisional President – in his navy blue slacks and the mottled grey silk sports jacket over a white shirt. Then we see him. Both of them walking towards us, arms around each other. And we gasp. Whatever happened to his silk pajamas and the robe?  He is smartly and causally dressed in a white linen suit over an open collared white shirt sans tie, looking like Jay Gatsby in his informal mode. His hair thinning his lanky frame makes him look younger than his 61 years. As he approaches us, he seems to be as much in awe of us as we are of him.

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