Don Sauer's The Girl Watcher's Guide has been removed from this site at the author's request.
Mr. Sauers has graciously given his permission for me to make available here an article he wrote in early 2004 about the events leading to the publishing of his book The Girl Watcher's Guide and the formation of the American Society of Girl Watchers (ASWG).
The Birth of Girl Watching
I moved to New York City from Pittsburgh when the small ad agency I worked for as copywriter was bought by a New York investor. He moved eight of us here with our families. At that time my wife Martha and I had two children, Mary age 2 and Christine 6 weeks. (We're still together with 5 children and 6 grandchilden.)
We were a close group, all dazzled a bit by the big city, especially our offices in the old Squibb Building at 57th and 5th. Bergdorf Goodman was across 5th and Tiffany across 57th. It was early Spring 1954 and we soon became aware that some of the most elegant and attractive women in the world shopped in the neighborhood. My own office window was on the 4th floor opposite Bergdorf's with a clear view of the sidewalk and one day I saw a group of bird watchers with their binoculars and little note pads heading for Central Park only a block north. George Kelly, one of our fellow Pittsburghers, had stopped by to pick me up for our lunch date, and we both watched the birders as they passed by. A couple of others, Bob Fine and Dave Schraffenberger, joined us and we walked up to Reubens for delicious deli sandwiches. As always seemed to happen we couldn't help noticing two or three good looking girls (we didn't think of them as "women" in those carefree days) as we strolled. Kelly mentioned the bird watchers we had seen and said, "Y'know, those people have the Audubon Society, we should have our own Society."
Days passed and then one day at lunch I said, "George, Bob Fine is watching a little too aggressively. Maybe we ought to have a set of rules, like the bird watchers have."
More days passed and Kelly decided to move back to Pittsburgh, but before he left he asked me if I'd written that handbook. When I said I hadn't he said, not jokingly, "Well, if you're not going to do it, I will." I got the message and started to work that afternoon.
It was easy. A pure parody of bird watching books. I completed a first draft in less than two weeks on company time. The agency business was like that in those days. I knew I'd need some illustrations so one of our art directors introduced me to an agent who represented cartoonists. He liked my approach and sent my draft to Eldon Dedini, a terrific artist in Carmel, California. Dedini loved it and sent me a few sketches by return mail. I now had my little package and showed it to Ed Zern, creative director on the Nash-Kelvinator account (we had been acquired by the Geyer Agency). Ed had written a few humorous books about hunting and fishing and knew all about publishers. He also liked my stuff and sent it to his old pal, Even Thomas, then Senior Editor at Harper. Evan called me the next morning and said, "We want to publish your book." Ridiculous but true. Oh, those good old days.
That's when I decided to make the Girl Watching Society a real organization. It would help sell the book -- membership cards and lapel pins, everything but secret handshakes and initiation rituals. The Society never became commercially viable, wasn't meant to be a money maker, but it did get a lot of publicity -- a lot more than the book, and occasionally outside promoters came to me with ideas. For example, IFE, the Italian Film Export Company came to me to help them promote a movie. Expo '67 in Montreal invited us to come up to help them celebrate Girl Watching Week. Would you believe a billboard that said, "Keep Montreal beautiful. Wear a miniskirt." They wrote it, I didn't. Pepsi came to us to help them promote Diet Pepsi as the drink for "girls that girl watchers watch."
But the membership never grew beyond a fairly tight circle of old friends, mostly advertising people. And that's how girl watching was born.
It died, as I explained in an op-ed piece three years ago. But with news (link) from San Francisco about the Girl Watchers Club in the Bay area, I detect signs that we may have survived the slings and arrows of angry feminists and will live on as we started, singing any one of those grand old songs -- from "There is nothing like a dame" to "The girl of my dreams is the sweetest girl..." Thanks to you I feel redeemed.
(copyright 2004 Don Sauers, used with permission)
(See also this article about Aurora Wallace's research on girl watching and the The American Society of Girl Watchers.)