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Remembering Faces and Names


I so wish I had the ability to easily remember faces and names.  I have tried.  And I still try … I really do.  But it’s a problem. 

I’ve read some tips … association games … looking the person in the eye and repeating the name (no matter how stupid it seems to be saying, “Really nice to meet you Jim Jones (Jim Jones, Jim Jones, Jim Jones)” … finding a physical characteristic that creates a memory link.  What works best for me is to write down the name and some details as soon as I can.

People who have this ability amaze me.  And I have a favorite story on the subject that was related by Bill Evans, editor and sports columnist of the Fairmont (W.Va.) Times.  I knew Bill during my days in the sports information office at West Virginia University (1965-68).  Here is the story he told me.

It seems that Bill had met first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Mrs. Franklin) and FDR confident (campaign manager and Postmaster General) Jim Farley in Arthurdale, W.Va., in the mid-1930s.  Mrs. Roosevelt had come to show support for coal miners in the poor West Virginia town and Farley accompanied her.  Bill was not to see Farley again for over a decade.

Now, fast forward to 1944.  Bill was a delegate to the 1944 Democratic Convention in Chicago.  He was trying to hail a taxi outside his hotel, the Sheraton Blackstone.  When a taxi pulled up, Jim Farley got out and looked at Bill.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Farley said, “Hi Bill … how are things in Fairmont.”

They met one time … more than 10 years earlier.  Now, Farley takes one look at Bill and greets him with a reference to Bill’s hometown.  Are you kidding me?  No wonder Farley was so good at what he did.


From Wikipedia …


As explained in the book, "How to make friends and influence people," Jim Farley was known for his ability to remember names and details of almost every person he met.  He is said to have used the name-picture association method.


James (Jim) Aloysius Farley (1888-1976) was an American politician who served as head of the Democratic National Committee and Postmaster General. Farley was the campaign manager forNew York State politicians Al Smith's and Franklin D. Roosevelt's gubernatorial campaigns as well as Roosevelt’s presidential campaigns in 1932 and 1936. Farley predicted large landslides in both, and was responsible for pulling together the New Deal Coalition of Catholics, labor unions, and big city machines. Farley was heavily concerned with party issues as well as aspects of policy, and supported the liberal New Deal programs. Farley, and the administration's patronage machine he presided over, helped to fuel the social and infrastructure programs of the New Deal via the Postal Department and WPA/PWA programs. Farley opposed Franklin Roosevelt breaking the two term tradition of the presidency, and broke with Roosevelt on that issue in 1940. Farley, served as the #2 commissioner on the second Hoover Commission, which helped to develop American modern law in regards to executive powers and the presidency. The Landmark James Farley Post Office (James A. Farley Building/former General Post Office Building) in New York City, is designated in his honor.

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