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The Picnic Table

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Nineteen eighty nine was a year of hope and great enthusiasm; I was approached by a young man who said, “You should make a board game!” So, one year later, I had a completed a finished prototype of the Master Realm, a game of knights in armor fighting evil skeletons and the winner gets a treasure in the castle they have to reach on the board game in order to win. So after I completed this prototype I then traveled on a bus in the middle of a bus strike, and had people I didn’t know sitting on my lap, and I was standing or laying in the aisles to get 3,000 miles and three days of great joy to show my design to a top manufacturer and spent a bundle to go to “SIN CITY,” Las Vegas! Thirty seconds after the presentation all I got was, “no thanks no interest,” and then, two years later the product is on the shelves and selling like crazy. Not the “Masters Realm,” but “Blank-Masters” And I won’t give the exact name because I don’t want a hassle, but yes, they even took part of the name.

So, now depressed I am back home. I was walking downtown and saw a familiar face from my school days “Sandra Allen,” she lived around the corner from me on Burton Ave, crossing Maple Ave which is the street I lived on and grew up at. Get this, in Ripley, New York’s “Believe it or Not.”  I saw Sandra go into our local restaurant, and the only one in town I should say. One traffic light for the whole town. (Big place, huh.) I approached her and said: How would you like to help me with a new invention? “ / !* !” She was like most people a bit hesitant, and then she said with a smile, “okay, let me take a look at what you have. Why don’t we meet tomorrow?” I suggested to meet at my parents house.

The next day she came to the house and I met her at the front door of an old Victorian style house, and yes, I was still in the nest at that time after leaving it years before and had to go back after losing a job. They acted like I was sixteen again. “You will be in the house before 11:00!” (Gee!) Okay got off track, I’m back, everyone called the house “the ginger bread house” because I had painted it few years before to look just like one it was yellow and brown and white, it was just like a story book. Sorry, got in the moment again, well—Sandra who I now call “Sand” asked me where I wanted to sit. So with drawings in hand she followed me to the back of the house to an old red “picnic table.”  

This was the first time we had a business meeting on (the picnic table), and we would have many other meetings always on that “picnic table.”  I called the product idea: “Key Keeper,” it was a device that made it so when you couldn’t find your keys you pressed a transmitter button, and the key ring had a device on it that would beep and light so you could locate them. I still lose my keys all the time. Well, Sand thought it was great like I said, “we needed a patent” and she said “I don’t know how to make a patent but I’ll go to the library and see if they have any books on the subject.”

Now Sand was a few years older than me, and she was a substitute teacher at the schools in the area, and very smart, so she agreed to do the patent search, and see if we could get it patented. I gave her a contract stating if we could get the idea sold she would make a percentage when we would introduce it to a manufacturer. Well to make a long story shorter, we did everything but where not able to get the design patented or prototyped because I didn’t know how to do the electronics in the design. So we then decided after many months and long hours of work to drop the project and try something else. I had thought up some toy ideas and I thought toys would sell easy. But before I did, I sent a copy of “Key Keeper” to a top company to see if they would be interested in helping us develop it. They first acted like—wow, this is great, but then they said they had done a review of a small group and it was turned down by the public. I was shocked, and thought, “Oh well, if people don’t want it, well, I guess that’s the way the ball bounces.” But two years later guess what, our disclosure document ran out of our design protection, and there it was on the market in a top magazine, and it was the company I showed it to. (GREAT.)

Well that picnic table was an omen that still after seventeen years of working together Sand and I are still struggling to get our first product on the market. That picnic table should have said: This is not going to be a picnic. So if anyone should care about two people who have tried and tried to get started and have been beat ‘n up and dragged through the mud, and if they could help in any way possible.

I have since adopted Sand as my step sister for all these years she has believed in my dream and helped me, and I should say that I was adopted at age seven so it was easy to adopt someone as nice as her. We share a rental house and I have a desk now and a computer! Oh boy! We would love to hear from you and any thoughts of how we could get this going in the right direction. 

Like I said: It hasn’t been a picnic. (The end fable? No, the end table—well kind of.)


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