A Little History

A Little History

image

A Little Family History: Like Father, Like . . . Daughter?

“The apple never falls far from the tree” is commonly known to mean that family characteristics will always asset themselves. Proverbs, like this one, were often quoted in the fifties and sixties as universal truths. In addition, they offered advice and pointed out morals or possible outcomes, especially if they weren’t followed. I listened carefully to such axioms, but one that didn’t ring true for me was “like father, like son.”
My father had tremendous influence on my career choice. I wanted to be just like him . . . a chip off the old block. My dad, John J. D’Amico, began his automotive career as a member of the Chesapeake Cadillac Company sales team in Baltimore , Maryland . By the mid-seventies, he had started his own dealership in Have De Grace, Maryland -John D’Amico Pontiac Cadillac. Then, it was every man’s dream to drive a new Cadillac, and Dad was no exception. He purposely chose Cadillac for his dealership and enjoyed driving his cherry red Eldorado with white guts and a white convertible top. He also enjoyed the privileges that came with his success, including membership in the local country club of Maryland , which he visited as often as he could.
Dad’s success brought my siblings and me privileges as well. The country club became our home away from home. I swam in the pool daily, during the summer months, hanging out with Aunt Bee and relishing in the purported ‘high life,” when I wasn’t busy with required activities and chores. My sister and I attended Mount Saint Agnes, a private school, and my two brothers attended Mount Washington Country School , a military academy. Dad made sure we were given the best he could offer, if it concerned our education.
I loved my childhood life and thought often about how I could ensure it would never change. From an early age, I watched Dad conduct his business and tried to copy his activities in my play. Shunning dolls, I joined my brothers in exploring more adventurous places. A stream behind our house became our playground and it offered me my first opportunity to become a saleswoman. If Dad could sell cars, I could sell rocks. I gathered many of them in sundry sizes and colors. I carefully washed them, placed them in a shoe box, and set up my first business in front of our house. I waved down every car that passed by and gave the drivers my best sales pitch. My next-door neighbor was not amused by my newfound career choice, however, and contacted my dad at his office. My rock selling adventure came to a quick end, but not my interest in private enterprise.

image

John D’Amico and Associates From Cheaspeake Cadillac | 1947, Baltimore MD

Dad was the proverbial car guy and earned an excellent reputation for not only his sales abilities but his exceptional expertise in appraising and buying pre-owned luxury vehicles. As I hung around his dealership, he taught me a great deal, including how to dig my heels in the dirt and to never take no for an answer. He also taught me to never give up trying and to always go for what I believed was right. Hard work, determination, and perseverance were code words for him. Although it may seem that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, my dad didn’t believe in giving into my every desire. He insisted I work for everything that he didn’t consider a “need.” For instance, he didn’t present me with a luxury car, when I received my driver’s license, although some of my friends sported such vehicles. My first car was a pre-owned Chevy Malibu. It was built like a tank and was probably one of the ugliest cars on the road-it was an unexciting dull gray-but the eight cylinder engine hummed. It was responsible for a couple speeding tickets, and, of course, Dad made me pay these fines.
Dad didn’t want me to go into the car business. He argued that it was a tough way to earn a living for a man, and it would be an even tougher uphill battle for a woman. He was concerned that I would never be accepted by those in the industry who still considered it a “man’s world.”. He admired Barbara Walters and thought I would make a great TV anchor. But the car business was in my blood. I was determined to make it my career. As I struggled to convince long-time sales managers that the best decision they’d ever make was to hire me, that they could have confidence in my ability to sell vehicles to both male and female customers, my personal convictions never faltered. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination and my dad burst a few buttons along the way. His advice was invaluable to me, and I know that I’ve achieved as much as I have because of his example of resilience, despite many disappointments, and his ability to advise, without stepping on my toes. He passed away sometime ago from lung cancer. I know he is still with me, as I travel throughout the country teaching sales and finance personnel how to improve their own talents and grow the profits of their retail establishments. Dad is likely telling everyone within hearing, in the great beyond, about his daughter, who is a chip off the old block.