Simple Simon

January 1975. I lived in a studio apartment above 3rd Avenue in San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park. There I started a little bookeeping business, and charged $8 per hour, big money. I called it ‘Simple Simon Bookeeping.’

It was a nice little occupation, although annoying in that people tended to call me either ‘Simon’ or ‘Simple’.

It came about in an odd way …

I had decided to become a “freelance” bookkeeper. A library book (1937) from the San Francisco library made it seem clear enough. But how to proceed?

One night about 1 am, sanding mahogany shelving I’d made for my studio apartment on Third Avenue, I was listening to the radio. The radio DJ was talking about recipes.

I called in my Texas Chili recipe, and speaking later with him told him my plan. I don’t remember why. Maybe he asked me.

It turns out, he’s got a friend named Alan, an accountant, and he suggested I go see Alan for guidance. I made an appointment, and explained my plan. My plan was to:

1) Find a client;
2) Get the records from the client;
3) Bring the records to Alan’s office;
4) Pay Alan to show me how to do the books.

Alan said he liked the plan. So that’s what I did.

I put up one handwritten poster in the stairwell at City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. What a dumb place! How ignorant to think that one poster would work!

Then, the next week, Phil Groves called me. He’d seen my poster at City Lights Bookstore. He was starting an ice-cream shop. Could I do their books?

We met at the college cafeteria, because I wanted someplace upscale. Alan had given me a list of what records to ask for, and I’d asked Phil to bring all those things.

Phil asked, “Can you do this? Can you do that?”

I nodded, “No problem. No problem.”

Phil asked, “How much?”

“Eight dollars an hour.”

He agreed.

He gave me all the records.

I went to Alan’s office. Alan showed me how to keep the books. It was simpler than the 1937 library book made out.

Then I was in the bookkeeping business.

So Simple.

That’s me.

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