by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Lake Worth, Fla.
September 14, 2002
TABLOID ADVICE FROM THE REAL 'TAILOR OF PANAMA'
EL VALLE DE ANTON, COCLE, Panama, Sept. 13, 2002 -- With apologies to John Le Carré and a grade B movie starring Pierce Brosnan, we take you now to Panama's sleaziest, but largest-circulation newspaper, for advice on business, life, and the human spirit, as told by the real "Tailor of Panama."
First, with due respect to the tabloid La Critica, which thankfully cuts through the daily political pomposity of some other dailies, today they did have the good sense to put the indefinite postponement of the space journey of boy toy Lance Bass on page 30.
Of course, not wanting to simply follow the lead of other newspapers, the same learned editors placed the full-page report on Pres. George Bush's speech to the United Nations regarding Iraq on page 70, opposite the four-color ad from Casa de Carne supermarket.
Page One featured a brewing scandal over the judging in last week's Miss Panama pageant, but teased the big inside feature magaaine spread (we use the word advisedly) of the day. The big feature, with photos, loosely and politely translates to a husband's secret for a happy marriage; "Marry a girl who is a proper lady in public, and a two-bit prostitute in bed!"
All this takes us to a hidden gem of wisdom from a guy who has repaired clothing, designed suits, and trained young apprentices in Panama City for 63 years.
La Critica tells us that the longest-surviving tailor of Panama is 85-year-old Stafford Cole.
Cole's key to business success, health, and happiness is mostly summed up in the word "responsibility."
Now, keep in mind this revelation comes on the day that the German government announced that bankruptcies hit a record 18,500 for the first sixth months of the year; the head of the largest cell phone company in France quit after announcing $12.2 billion in debt, and U.S. stock analysts worried about negative investor sentiment.
Even here in Panama, where Panama Canal traffic and revenue is projected to be up only a weak 1-3 per cent for the next year, and the 80 major banks in the city are laying off workers, a good dose of Stafford Cole philosophy might work some wonders.
Cole goes to work every day, stays fits, practices yoga, doesn't smoke or drink alcohol, does not eat any meats, and looks tall, slim, and handsome.
Does he have any fun?
Well, you decide what is "fun." He and his wife raised 12 kids, all of whom finished professional schools or university programs, and all of whom have successful practices and businesses.
During 63 years in business he trained at least 40 understudies to be master clothing designers and tailors - for free. Many of these apprentices have gone on in turn to serve as fashion designers and fashion instructors in major fashion houses around the globe.
Born in 1917, the son of Jamaican immigrants who were Canal workers, at age 18 he graduated from school and went to work for an English clothing designer in Panama.
With $50 saved up in 1939, in the adjacent Canal neighborhood of Ancon, he opened a shop with his wife, Myrtle Mayla.
Many top international bankers, and local celebrities still visit Mr. Cole, but he always keeps his roots in his local community work, and regular clientele as well.
He told La Critica, "Responsibility and seriousness. If you want to triumph in an endeavor, practice these virtues, and your work and life will always smile upon you."
In the age of corporate greed and fancy bookkeeping on Wall Street, maybe the World Bank should hire Stafford Cole, and La Critica should become the assignment editor for CNN, Bloomberg, and CNBC.
Mark Scheinbaum is chief investment strategist for Kaplan & Co. Securities, and daily commentator for Doug Stephan's syndicated "Good Day" radio show (www.dougstephan.com).