Life Mimicking Sailing* Constant Changes of Direction... Moments of High Drama!

Nov 18, 2022 by John Lockton

Perhaps because my life has been one of adventure and drama, I have always been interested in novels of excitement that explore the adventure of being alive, and from early adulthood have wanted to write novels about my extraordinary life. My first wife encouraged me. Impetus was lost when she jumped out of a window of the Waldorf Astoria in front of me. Couldn’t grab her in time. A sad novel awaits about that. 

Then after a number of years a second wife encouraged me. She died three years ago in a horrible example of malpractice at the leading hospital of Northern California. Another sad novel. Recently a lovely woman joined me in a third marriage, happy man, and presently in retirement. 

I was determined to finally complete what I have started too many times. My new book, "Odyssey’s Child," is the first in a series of three. The second book, "The Child of Lot," is ready for publication, and a third book is in the offing. I find myself writing with joy. The stories have been gnawing at me for years, demanding to be told. Now that I am growing old, hard to admit it, I find in writing I can continue the adventure and drama that has been life.

My soul has always been entwined in sailing, and I made sailing a central theme in "Odyssey’s Child." Was there ever a time I wasn’t in love with sailing? I don’t think so. I have some Danish blood and perhaps there's an old Norseman hiding there. My first sailboat, a Beetle Cat, came to me at nine years old, a boat almost as wide as it was long. Wasn’t supposed to be able to tip over. But it did, didn't scare me, but intead I was joyful that the boat was unsinkable and could sail half full of water. After that there were many other boats and many other near sinkings. The amazing voyage in my book, across the Caribbean at thirteen years old in 1951, was part of a life direction already established.

My life has mimicked my sailing, constant changes of direction, moments of high drama. As in the book my mother died tragically when I was eleven. Went to Harvard Law School intending to be a trial lawyer and practiced successfully at a leading Wall Street firm. One litigation partner I worked with committed suicide. Less than a month later I discovered the other partner I worked with comatose in his office, the burdens of a major case too much for him. Wrong kind of adventure. 

Then House Counsel of a major corporation where I had to deal with my discovery that the corporation had been bribing Congressmen to gain contracts. Then President of Moody’s Investor Services when Moody’s proclaimed New York City bankrupt. You may recall the headline, “Drop Dead New York.” President of Dun & Bradstreet International and personally involved in spiriting employees out of Iran when the Shah fell. Cloak and dagger stuff, not my cup of tea, with two of our people ending on the hangman’s noose.

President of Warner Amex Cable Television (now Warner Cable), winning cable franchises in major cities of America and having to find a way to get people to pay for TV previously delivered free, and also at the start of MTV at Warner. Executive Vice President of Pacific Bell at the start of cellular radio then viewed as a “rich man’s toy.” Head of an international cellular corporation with operations around the world including a drama filled partnership in China with the People’s Liberation army. Then a number of drama filled startups in Silicon Valley. Always tacking, tacking, tacking upwind against the norm, seeking new challenges and new adventures. And always, whenever possible, sailing and exploring the Caribbean.

All the terror filled trials at sea and the odd and remarkable people in Odyssey’s Child actually existed. I lived them all in my 1951 voyage and later voyages. When you read my book you will live them with me. If you don’t know the Caribbean you will know the Caribbean. If you don’t know how to sail you will learn to sail. If you believe in fighting evil you will have an opportunity to join with those who are doing so.

*Adapted from Long Bio