It’s 5 o’clock in the evening and the warm July sun is bathing the Piazza del Plebiscito in an auburn glow.
Sunbeams cascade off the beautiful Teatro di San Carlo opera house and glance off the Baroque paintings of Morelli and Giacomo Di Chirico hanging in the Neapolitan Academy of Fine Arts. The smell of sea air, Neapolitan pizza bubbling in wood-burning ovens dance with the aroma of Zeppole. Smiling faces fill the open-air farm and fish market.
In a house overlooking the city, an authentic Italian el fresco meal of spaghetti alle vongole, impepata di cozze (peppered mussels), purpetiello affogato (octopus poached in delicious broth), olives and home grown artichokes are being served on long tables.
An American Navy man sits at the head of the table with his wife and seven children.
If he had to be stationed someplace, this is just about the best assignment out there.
What a place to grow up. But, don’t ask Margaret Faintich about it. It’s true she was sitting at the table, but she grew up in Bellevue, Nebraska.
Nebraska, the birthplace of Kool-Aid.
Gone was the aroma of fine Italian food. But, on the bright side they had an Olive Garden.
Truly, it was paradise lost.
Even Newport News, Virginia where she was born, would have been a better choice. Or San Diego where her father was stationed for a stretch would have provided the stimulation that a child needs.
No such luck. Nebraska was her home from the age of six until she graduated from high school.
Without a doubt, it was her unceremonious move to the Cornhusker State that gave her the desire to work hard, so that she could leave and head to a big city — someplace with culture and opportunity.
But until graduation, Margaret would have to stay in the suburbs of Omaha beneath the Cottonwoods and dream big.
She did most of the things girls do in small town USA. She was a flag girl captain. “I loved the energy of game day.” She says smiling. “The marching band music. But, I didn’t care about football.”
She may have been tethered by geography, but she wasn’t about to become a Nebraskan.
She played the flute and was second chair of the high school orchestra and while she played great defense, her basketball career wasn’t where her destiny lay.
When she graduated, she was ready to fly but as always, there were rules.
For the daughter of a Navy man there were always rules.
“We couldn’t go to a college that was more than 500 miles from home. That way you could always come back for holidays and long weekends.” She says.
She visited a college in Chicago and a few other places, but it was Saint Louis University that made her light up and say, “now this is what college is supposed to look and feel like.”
Nebraska felt like it was worlds away…444 miles to be exact.
She thought about majoring in communications, but one of the few things that stuck from growing up in the Great Plains was her love for English.
She worked for the University paper, but not writing articles as she had hoped, instead she sold advertising. The paper led to an internship with the SLU PR Department, and then a second internship with the radio station Y98.
“I helped with promotions, giveaways and even had to wear the duck mascot suit a couple of times.” She says with a slight smile.
After graduation, Margaret grabbed a job at Weber/Shandwick working on brands such as Starbucks, Hard Rock Café and Compaq computers. After 3 years, she felt the need a new adventure. After all, the last bout of wanderlust had carried her away from Nebraska and she had thrived. What else was out there?
Unfortunately, this time her need for adventure imploded as the start-up she joined folded after just a year and she went back to her old job at Weber/Shandwick working on HP printers. But, it wasn’t long until her feet started to itch again. So when the opportunity to go to the Chicago office surfaced, she jumped at it.
For those of you keeping track, Chicago is 473.3 miles from Bellevue, Nebraska—just a hair under the mandatory 500.
However, her experience in Chicago is best forgotten. The company culture was so different and so corporate that she left after a few months and headed back to Saint Louis. But, she learned an important lesson about herself, she was done with PR work. She wanted to try her hand at brand management.
She landed a gig at Brown Shoe and was a brand manager for Dr. Scholl’s. She helped launch two new brands within the master brand and before long she felt that urge to find something new.
It was at New Honor Society (formally Rivet) that she hit her stride. For nine years she managed accounts and did all that account service people do. There was a brief mid-life crisis that caused her to work for a small software marketing agency, but the less that is said about that the better.
Recently, she joined Paradowski —
417.3 miles from the Cornhusker state.