Madison and 44th Street wasn’t strictly Camelot during the early 1960s. The thriving menswear retail neighborhood attracted swaths of shoplifters.
A daytime nightmare occurred on an otherwise uneventful early spring morning when a perpetrator entered the store brandishing a weapon advising everybody to lie down and toss their wallets on the floor. As he bent down to pick up the loot, heroic (if not foolhardy) sales member, Ralph Lauren-WASP archetype Ken Trommers, grabbed the thief’s arm. He took off with Ken in hot pursuit eventually pinning him against a wall across the street at Brooks Brothers. Turned out the weapon was a water pistol.
Fighting the scourge J. Press hired a Pinkerton detective to secure the premise. Bill Ward filled the bill. Unobtrusive and vaguely professorial, he looked like a customer parading around the tie counter. Bill became so besotted with repps and tweeds he left Pinkerton and became the J. Press official floorwalker advising grateful Squeeze clients regarding their haberdashery choices.
This all occurred during The Beatles Era. Turns out their manager lived above my apartment on 3rd Avenue and 73rd Street. The Liverpool sensation utilized the residence as a hideaway from riotous screaming Beatles lunatics. Returning through the lobby one afternoon with my then 4-year-old daughter Jennifer, we were greeted by Bill Ward, assigned by Pinkerton to safeguard the group.
“Mr. Press,” Bill asked, “How would your daughter like to meet The Beatles?”
Strawberry Fields Forever