Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"The Padded Sell" by Edward Gottlieb

The Padded Sell and Other Stories:
Memoirs of Edward Gottlieb,
Public Relations Man
by Edward Gottlieb,
edited by Elizabeth Gottlieb

The Padded Sell and Other Stories: Memoirs of Edward Gottlieb, Public Relations Man is compiled by Elizabeth Gottlieb, daughter of Edward Gottlieb. You can read an excerpt below.

The memoirs of Edward Gottlieb, Public Relations man, compiled and edited by his daughter, Elizabeth A. Gottlieb, with additional material by his son, Richard M. Gottlieb, MD, outlines the professional life of the man through the Great Depression, World War 2, and the 1950s, including his account of being a survivor of an American Airlines crash of 1959. In 1995, he was awarded the Pinnacle Worldwide Annual Legends of Public Relations Award. He served in World War 2 in the psychological warfare unit of the OSS (OSS became the CIA), in the Office of War Information (OWI). Among his many clients in Public Relations over the years were the government of Israel, NASA, Andy Warhol, French Champagne and Cognac, and more. He was one of five survivors of the crash in New York's East River of an American Airlines prop-jet, in 1959. His survival and recovery from catastrophic injuries is included in these stories.

I came back to consciousness under the water. It was black. I felt no pain or cold. I was utterly surprised, in total shock. Suddenly I was in the water, and I didn’t know why. I had to have air. I had to get out of the water. I thrashed my arms without aiming in any direction. I beat, pushed, reached and grasped. Then, my head was out of the water. I heard cries of help. I heard voices making sounds and saying words I couldn’t understand. For a second, my eyes cleared and I saw large, unidentifiable, shadowy objects.
I became aware of something heavy and irresistible clutching me around the waist from behind, and pulling me under the water. The cries stopped. The shadows vanished. The air was taken away from me. Everything was black and suffocating again.
I tried to grab whatever it was that wanted me to die. I tore at it but it carried me deeper. Then I recognized it. It was the airplane seat, still attached to me by the seatbelt.
I felt my lungs bursting. I quit the fight with the seat and thrashed my arms frantically to reach the surface. When my head broke the surface of the water again, I gulped some air and fumbled with the seat belt buckle. My fingers wouldn’t work. They seemed useless with cold. Again I sank but this time I kept tearing at the buckle. Finally I succeeded and I felt the heavy weight fall away from me. I rose to the surface more quickly this time. I stayed afloat by moving my arms and hands. The ice cold water and cold air helped me get my mind into focus and now I was conscious of the fact that I had been in an aircraft and it had crashed. This is what had happened but I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t absorb this reality, that this was happening to me. One moment I was comfortable and secure in the airplane and the next moment I was fighting for my life in the water. My world was all water and blackness.
Then, far to my right, I saw a searchlight beam poking sweeping the blackness. I swiveled around and tried to swim toward it. It moved slowly. I noticed, slightly to the left of the beam, a sharp line of light that appeared to mark a boundary on the blackness of the water. I looked again and this time I recognized that the glow of the lights was in two parallel lines. These were the lights bordering the LaGuardia landing strip. I tried to move my hands to the big beam of light which seemed nearer now. Then I heard a voice, a sound sharper than all the others, shout, “Swim over here! This way!”
[For a longer excerpt, click here.]

About the Author and Editor
Editor and Contributor, Elizabeth Gottlieb, has worn many hats: dancer, choreographer, journalist, filmmaker, artist, musician, puppeteer, business owner, college administrator. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, a dog and a cat.