Men At Work In White Shirts


This photograph always makes me hold my breath, as if the sound of my breathing might disturb the man at work. And I was taught never to disturb a man at work.

The man who taught me that is the guy in the photo, my father, seen here at his desk at the Young and Rubicam advertising agency, where he worked for 48 years.

What a shot - the blinds halfway down, the light through the leaves of the plant...It's an image Edward Hopper might have painted, an image that could adorn a collection of John Cheever stories. New York City, back when men wore white shirts to work.

My father's posture is perfect. He hasn't rolled up his sleeves, hasn't loosened his tie. He's like an Italian-American Don Draper, which reminds me - Dad was never crazy about "Mad Men."

"The guys on that show were always drinking and going to lunch," says Tony Carillo. "We didn't do that. We worked."

Work. Growing up, I heard that word a lot.

As far as my father was concerned, you could divide the human race into two categories - people who liked to work, and people who didn't.

My father liked it. And he liked looking good when he worked. You can't see his shoes in the photo, but believe me, they were shiny. He shined them every morning.

And I can still see the row of five white shirts on hangers, perfectly ironed by my mother on Sunday night, ready for Dad's work week ahead.

"Work," my father says, "is a good habit."

It's a habit he's never been able to break, even at age 90. He wakes up early and hits the day hard - cutting his lawn with a push-mower, trimming the hedges with manual clippers, painting this, polishing that.

No more white shirts. But how cool is the white hair, against the blue shirt and blue jeans?


Happy Father's Day, Dad. Once a fashion plate, always a fashion plate.

Charlie Carillo is a novelist and a TV producer. His website is